How to minimise chainsaw risks
Over 120 people sustain serious injuries every year when using chainsaws, so basic training and safety checks are vital when handling these powerful tools
I was a bit taken aback recently when I saw that the British hill walking magazine Trail had republished a very controversial picture of Everest summiteer Bronco Lane's amputated frost-bitten toes floating in formaldehyde.
That reminded me of the chilling scene I saw when I drove into a farmer's yard some years ago.
The farmer was cutting up a tree log on a concrete yard surface. Wearing an overall and rubber wellingtons, he had one foot on the tree log and was using the tip of the chainsaw to split the log lengthwise towards his foot. That scene gave me the heebie-jeebies: so many things could easily have gone wrong.
Chainsaws are undoubtedly an excellent and indispensable tool on the farm but they are also dangerous and accidents do happen.
Contrary to what most people believe, the major cause of timber-related accidents is being struck by falling trees or branches while felling trees. Appropriate training in chainsaw use and the wearing of suitable protective clothing to protect against these injuries is essential.
The Health and Safety Authority is very clear: "If you find you cannot meet the competency/training requirements or don't have all the personal protective equipment for chainsaw work activities, then you must engage the services of a competent chainsaw provider."
So, what does this entail?
First of all, complete a written risk assessment prior to starting work.