January 5, 1999 | By: Haven Miller

Storm-damaged trees on your property may prompt you to get out the chain saw. But before you pull the start cord, remember one word - safety.

"Chain saws are useful tools, but if not used correctly and with respect they can quickly cause injury or even death," said Larry Piercy, Extension safety specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

According to Piercy, a frequent cause of serious injury from chain saws is called "kickback."

"Kickback is when the top half of the saw nose hits an obstruction and flies back at lightning speed," Piercy said. "A person can't react fast enough to avoid a blade coming toward them that fast."

To avoid kickback, Piercy said operators should use a saw equipped with a chain brake or kickback guard. A low kickback type of chain is also a good idea. The saw should be held firmly with two hands, with the thumb gripped tightly around the top handle. The operator should stand slightly to the side of the saw placing their face out of direct line with the blade. The saw should be running at high speed when entering or leaving a cut.

"You should never reach above your shoulders to cut," Piercy said, "and you should never operate a chain saw when you're tired or have consumed alcohol."

Piercy offered these other suggestions for safe operation:

  • wear safety glasses to protect your eyes while cutting
  • wear gloves, hard hat, and hearing protection if possible
  • don't cut trees or branches that are taller or larger than your skill level
  • never operate a chain saw while on a ladder

Piercy said no matter how long you've owned the saw, it's still a good idea to read the owner's manual before using it.

"It's never too late to read the manual," he said. "In addition to safety procedures, it will also tell you how to check and adjust chain tension, and how to keep the saw in good running condition."

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Contact: 

Writer: Haven Miller
(606) 257-3784

Source: Larry Piercy
(606) 257-3000, ext. 107