10 Ways to make you stay safe with saws

If not used properly, chainsaws can cause horrendous injuries and even death. Here we examine the many modern features that make them as safe as possible

According to Tree Care Ireland's Kevin Birchall, there are 10 safety features on a modern chainsaw, many designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.

1 Chain brake and front hand guard: If the chain does move when the brake is on, then the brake is defective. There is an inertia trip mechanism integrated into the brake as well so, if you get a bad kick-back, it triggers the brake to stop the chain, reducing the risk of serious facial or body injuries if the saw strikes.

2Rear hand guard: This is not just for standing on while you start the saw. It also prevents the chain from hitting your hand and fingers if it comes off the bar and whips back. Kevin pointed out that it also prevents branches hitting your hand during work.

3Chain catcher: This prevents a broken chain from flying off and hitting the operator or co-worker. It works like a Bolas with the momentum of the escaping or derailed chain causing it to wrap on the chain catcher lug.

4Safety throttle: This is a two-piece throttle mechanism. You have to compress the top piece with a proper grip on the handle to allow the user to operate the finger throttle.

5On/off switch: This is also a safety device -- the alternative of using the choke to stop it is not a safe way to stop a saw.

6The exhaust: You might not be thinking safety when looking at this but it is also a safety device because it directs the fumes away from the operator.

7Safety stickers: If these are damaged or missing, the saw is deemed unsafe in the eyes of the law.

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8Shock absorber on handle: This reduces the transfer of vibration to user and loss of blood flow to fingers that leads to white knuckle, plus other occupational injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome.

9Plastic guard that slides over the chainsaw bar and chain: This protects it from damage and prevents it from damaging anything around it, particularly when it is lumped into the boot of the car or back of the jeep or van.

10Low or no-kickback chain: These are designed to do exactly what it says on the tin so you don't have a saw coming towards your head or body at speed. Kevin described in detail how chain manufacturers achieve this from rounded profile depth guides to protective links between the teeth.

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