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Chainsaws & Brush Saws in Forestry

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

July 14th, 2020

Authors: Marketing Manager, Rylee Armstrong, with information from Forteck Safety Coordinator Cathy Wolf

Chainsaw Safety, and Some Good Ol' Forestry

Let's Talking About F-E-L-L-I-N-G

Tree felling is one of the most dangerous jobs required by foresters. BUT what more capable person than a forester or arborist? It is of our utmost importance to make sure that our Forteck foresters are safe and educated before going into the field. Our highly educated crew is certified with their chainsaw ticket to ensure proper handling of equipment on the job.

Follow the ABC's - Always Be Careful

We can't say it enough, safety always comes first. The best place to start? Having the proper gear. Below, we've outlined a list of equipment needed to complete the most dangerous tasks safely. SOURCE:

Helmet: Helmets are designed to protect you from falling branches and impacts. Before going into the field, make sure your helmet is equipped with hearing protection, visor and protective glasses. The visor should cover all of your face to protect against scratches and sawdust spray and the protective glasses provide additional protection for your eyes. Hearing protection protects against harmful loud noises. The inserts and cushions for your hearing protection will eventually become worn, so it’s important that you replace them regularly. [1]

DID YOU KNOW: It’s important that you replace the helmet itself according to the recommendations in the manual and care instructions for your specific product. This is because the plastic in the helmet ages and becomes fragile, mainly due to UV light.

Proper clothing: Proper clothing including long-sleeve shirts and jackets are important to keep you protected from falling debris. Make sure to also wear apparel with high-visibility safety standards and with good ventilation to keep you happy when working in extreme heat.

Protective chaps: Foresters must wear protective chaps fitted with saw protection that meet international standards as well as local demands. According to Husqvarna, saw protection in certified clothing consists of a lining with several layers of very long fibres that become entangled in the chain and can stop it in a fraction of a second.

TIP: If you cut into the protective layers, the trousers must be discarded.

Protective boots: We can't express the importance of proper footwear in Forestry. Boots with ankle support should be fitted with protective toecaps, saw protection and deep treaded soles (anti-slip protection) in accordance with national standards.

Gloves: Gloves created to safety standards will protect your hands from cuts, scratches, oils & fuels, similar to the protective chaps stated above.

Always make sure that a first aid kit is readily available in the event that it's needed. It's the times that you don't think you'll use it are the times that you'll need it the most. Remember, Always Be Careful.

Chainsaw Safety Operation

Once you've got the proper gear to keep you safe when working with chainsaws, follow these steps to continue operating safely in the field. SOURCE:

How Sharp is Your Chainsaw? A sharp chainsaw can work wonders when cutting trees making the chainsaw more efficient and easier to handle making it safer with less effort to control. First, check for teeth that have more damage. Mark the tooth so you know where you started. Apply even pressure on the file and push from one side to the other. Check to make sure the teeth are straight & sharp. Repeat till all are the same size.

Check the Tension of your Chainsaw: Having the chain the proper tension makes cutting faster and safer. When checking tension, the chain should allow being lifted slightly then snap back into place.

Make Sure the Chain Brake is in Operational Condition: Double-check before you start that your chain brake is operational in the event you need to stop the chainsaw at any point during the job. Always engage the chain brake when you're not cutting or moving around with your chainsaw. 

Make Sure You Clear the Area from any Trip Hazards or Debris: Fallen branches, logs, and other obstacles are hazards to stability and your safety. Check your surroundings at all times and know where the obstacles are to minimize your chances of getting hurt. 

Assess your Stance when Operating a Chainsaw: Make sure your feet are should width apart, knees slightly bent, weight evenly dispersed and your body offset from the line of the bar. Never stand directly behind the chainsaw, looking from the side, never from directly above. 

Start your Chainsaw Safely: There are two ways to start your chainsaw safely. 

  1. The first method: Place the saw on the ground, put your right foot on the rear handle to secure its positioning. Make sure to check that the chainsaw break is activated. 

  2. The second method: Grip with the left that, make sure the chain brake is activated, place the rear handle between your legs and pull the start cord.

When cutting, the safest location on the chainsaw bar is near the engine. If you place the tip of the chainsaw on the tree, it creates a kick-back putting yourself at risk of getting injured. Let the chainsaw pull you closer to the wood and apply slight downwards pressure. Remember to ease off on the pressure as you near the end of the cut. 



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This article is about risk control methods specific to chainsaws and chainsaw operations. When personal safety is an issue, or the tree is being removed, tree felling Pretoria may use 'spikes', (also known as 'gaffs' or 'spurs') attached to their chainsaw boots with straps to ascend and work

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