A Guide to Chainsaw Safety

Electric Gardening Tools are becoming powerful every day and more efficient too. Like many power tools, a Chainsaw is one of the greatest tools compared to an ax. Along with efficiency, these advanced tools have become very powerful. This also leads to taking safety measures before, while using, and after too. The technology in chainsaws has also allowed for electric chainsaws to become very popular.

A chainsaw is a powerful tool, but they are dangerous too, especially if you keep it sharp. One might find themselves using a chainsaw in many environments, from simple to complex. Regardless of the situation, there are safety measures one needs to take to ensure the safety of themselves and the safety of the people around him.

The power of chainsaw allows the chain or the cutting link to rotate around the bar at 60 miles per hour; even the slight miscalculation or wrong use can result in fatal accidents. That’s why it is important to take safety measures and wear protective gear. 

man holding chainsaw in garden
Man Holding Chainsaw

Chainsaw Safety

There are many things you should check and consider before using any kind of chainsaw. Those are: 


Before planning to use a chainsaw, you should know about the chainsaw you’re using and consider your skills. Not everyone is used to using a chainsaw; it takes skills. But there’s no shame in not knowing how to use one. If you don’t have the skills, it’s always better to call in a professional; it’s better than risking fatal injuries, even death. 

Not everyone is skilled in cutting down a tree. But if you’re planning on using a chainsaw, you need to know your tool too. Chainsaws come in different sizes, and in accordance with their size, you will get power.

Smaller chainsaws have less power and easy to use. If you’re learning to use a chainsaw, then you should start with a smaller chainsaw, albeit being capable of cutting down specific kinds of trees. The size of your chainsaw should be compatible with the kind of task you’re going to use it for. 

For cutting down a tree, you need to use a larger chainsaw. But, if you’re planning on cutting branches, then you’ll require smaller chainsaws. Larger ones are for feeling. 


How you hold the chainsaw and your posture is also a part of chainsaw safety. A chainsaw pulls itself towards the object you’re cutting, so without standing properly or having a bad posture can cause accidents.

Before you start using a chainsaw, stand properly. The proper posture for using a chainsaw resembles that of a boxer. So, for right-handed people, your left foot will be in the front, at a forty-five-degree angle, and your right foot slightly back from your left foot.

Your feet should apart parallel to your shoulder and bent at the knees. For left-handed people, its right foot front at a forty-five-degree angle and the left foot slightly back. 

For the upper part of the body, hold the chainsaw with both of your hands on the chainsaw and never look away from the bar. The bar is the part that holds the cutting links or the chain; people usually call it the blades. You’d want to hold the chainsaw closer to your body and the chainsaw bar close to whatever you’re trying to cut.

Also, never cut above the height of your shoulders. Firstly, you won’t be able to see what you’re cutting, and secondly, cutting in that manner will introduce more kickbacks. Lastly, due to having no balance, anytime a kickback can cause a major accident.

Check the Chainsaw

It’s vital to check the chainsaw before using it. Many times, accidents happen for lack of maintenance. A dull chainsaw is of no use; rather, it can cause harm to the user. Also, not only is using a dull chainsaw dangerous, but it consumes more fuel without getting any work done. 

That’s why before working with a chainsaw, you need to ensure that it’s in optimal condition. Ensure if the chainsaw is properly lubricated and the cutting link is well tensioned. Unless those requirements are met, the chainsaw will produce smoke. 

The next thing you want to ensure is that the teeth of the blades or the cutting edges are sharp and the depth settings are correct. Even though chainsaws are powerful tools, at the end of the day, these are still cutting tools, and cutting tools will get dull with the course of time. 

That’s why, based on your usage, you will need to sharpen the chainsaw. There are different ways to do this; you can do it manually with a filing tool or can choose to use an electric chainsaw sharpener. There are various models of electric chainsaw sharpener, ranging from novice users to daily professional use. 

Dull cutting edges and the wrong depth can cause accidents, from giving kickbacks to the cutting link rattling when you’re using it. With a dull cutting edge, the chainsaw loses all its efficiency. 

Next, you want to ensure that there are no loose screws or parts. If you detect any part that is missing or fitted to the chainsaw incorrectly, don’t use that chainsaw. In such cases, you must take it to a professional to get it checked. 

Check the Work Environment

When using a chainsaw, protecting those around you is just as important as protecting yourself. You want to ensure that there’s no one around you when working with a chainsaw. There shouldn’t be anyone three to five meters from you. You also want to ensure that there are no hazardous materials or wires lying around for you to trip. Besides these, ensure that nothing will fall on you while you’re working. 

Starting a Chainsaw

Never drop start a chainsaw. Chainsaws are powerful tools with a chain of bladed rotating at high speed. If you drop start a chainsaw, you run the risk of severe injuries. If you were to drop start it, it could swing in an arc, causing said injury. It’s always the best option to cold or warm start your chainsaw. 

Planning the Cut

When using a chainsaw, it’s ideal that you plan your cut. What it means is that you want to do the math of where the chainsaw’s bar will come out when you’re done pushing it through the log. Where the bar will exit is more important than where it starts to cut. You don’t want a chainsaw coming out of the log and going for your leg. 

Chainsaw’s Pull

When using a chainsaw, you will most likely be pressing the object to be cut against the bottom part of the chainsaw’s bar. When doing so, don’t get startled when the chainsaw starts pulling. The way a chainsaw works is the bottom of the bar pulls itself to the object being cut due to the rotation of the chain. So, don’t get startled when the chainsaw starts pulling itself. 


Kickbacks are the worst thing that can happen when using a chainsaw, and it can cause fatal injuries too. As mentioned before, the chainsaw works in pull motion, but that just at the bottom. It also has a push motion, and that happens on the top edge.

When the top edge of a chainsaw hits something while you’re using a chainsaw, gets pinched, the chainsaw will throwback towards you and can become unstable. Besides that, kickback can also occur if the cutting link isn’t tensioned properly or the depth is too low. 

While most chainsaws come with mechanisms to prevent it from happening, you should take precautions too. Some of the precautions are that, when using a chainsaw, hold it firmly with both hands. Then you’d want to ensure that the tip of the chainsaw’s bar doesn’t come in contact with the object being cut, and when you’re using it on a previous cut, be extremely careful.

When doing maintenance, don’t file the depths too much. Lastly, before you start working, ensure the chain brake is working. If you’re not a regular of the chainsaw, it’s best to use a saw chain that reduces the kickback. While it may cut slower, you’re ensuring productivity without any kickback. 

Maintaining the Chainsaw

Chainsaws are cutting tools, and they will get dull over time; it won’t be the way you brought it forever. But with proper maintenance, you can increase its lifespan and ensure your safety. Based on how much you use the chainsaw, the frequency of these maintenances will differ.

First, you need to maintain the chain. To do so, you will need to ensure that the cutting angles are in the right shape; this will make the chain sharp. Before use, ensure the machine is properly lubricated, and the chain is well-positioned. When using a filing tool or an electronic sharpener, be sure to consult the chainsaw’s manual. 

Every chainsaw has a different kind of chain, and with the chain, the depth and gauge also differ. That’s why you must consult the user manual before sharpening it. 

Aside from that, after every use, make sure that the air filters, sprockets, and the chain brake is free of sawdust. You should also clean the guiding grooves on the bar. And Lastly, before every use, lubricate properly and ensure that all the bolts and parts are in place. 

Safety Gear

When working with any kind of tool, safety gear is a must. Safety gears have saved many lives. There are incidents where people lived only because they had proper safety gear. It might seem unnecessary, but that few dollars of investment might save your life. 

The best part is safety gears are widely available, and you can purchase them from your local hardware store. One of the safety gear you will need is a chainsaw boot. Chainsaw boots come with firm and protective materials and also includes a reinforced ankle. These protective layers stop the cutting edges and links from going through your feet. 

Some of these boots also come with ballistic grade protection. So, the best practice is to buy the best pair you can purchase. The next item on the list is chainsaw trousers. These trousers are built with layered protection on the outside and loose Kevlar on the inside. 

If you were to fall while using the chainsaw, the protection layers of the trouser would jam the cutting link, minimizing injury. That’s why it’s best to purchase a pair of these trousers. 

When purchasing helmets, you are offered two options: one is for ground use, another for climbing. Sometimes chainsaws can kickback and come for your head. These helmets will prevent the chains from reaching your skull. Besides that, the helmet gives protection from things falling on you and falling to the ground. 

When using these helmets, it’s wise to replace them every three to five years. These helmets come with a sticker on them, and it fades away with time. When the sticker fades away, you must replace it. 

After that, you should put on some chainsaw gloves. Chainsaw gloves come equipped with the same material as the chainsaw trousers, albeit most of the protective layer is on the left hand. Records show that most injuries happen on the backside on the left hand, hence the protection on the left hand.

Besides these, you must carry a first aid kit at all times. Your first aid kit should come fully equipped to help you initially from any injury and trauma. The next time on the list is a whistle. Although it’s not a must-have and it’s not a part of the chainsaw PPE, it good to have one.

Having this whistle will help you alert others about your situation. When investing in a whistle, make sure it’s high pitched, as your colleagues might be around you, but the sound of their work might prevent them from hearing the whistle blow.

The next item on the list is a chainsaw jacket. These jackets come with pads that are cut-redundant. These pads will keep the injuries to a minimum. When it comes in contact with the jacket, the pads will burst, and the inner materials will eventually stop the cutting link.

These jackets aren’t as popular because it can get hot wearing these. But it’s worth investing in to enjoy another day of great weather. Up next is the head torch. As mentioned before, when handling a chainsaw, you need to grip it firmly. That’s why to keep your hands free; you need one of these torches. These torches come in two models, some are for close up work, and some can illuminate far away objects too. 

Electric Chainsaw Safety

Electric chainsaws are great tools, but with that power comes great risks too. Because of the lightweight of an electric chainsaw, we forget how powerful the motor inside can be. This can be the reason behind our demise; that’s why when using an electric chainsaw, you need to be equally careful. 

Since it’s an electrical chainsaw, using it without any insulation, you run the risk of being the shortest circuit for the electricity to travel through. The risk increases when you’re surrounded by highly conductive elements. To minimize this risk, the first step is to wear durable and rubberized boots. 

When purchasing such boots, ensure that there are no metal parts on them. Then you need to invest in some insulated gloves. These gloves will protect you from getting zapped with electricity. If your electric chainsaw pulls power from an outlet, ensure that you’re using a GFCI outlet.

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These outlets are designed in a way that when the out detects that electricity is passing through another medium, it shuts down. 

Another safety guide is to never use your electric chainsaw in a wet condition. When working, make sure the cord isn’t in contact with any wet surface. If there’s even the slightest chance of raining, don’t use the electric chainsaw. 

Always remember to turn off your electric chainsaw. Unlike gas chainsaws, electric chainsaws don’t make any constant sound when it’s running. So, it’s best to ensure that it’s not running to remove any chance of shorting or shocking you. 

When you’re running maintenance, make sure the cord is not plugged it. If the chainsaw comes equipped with a battery, remove it. After removal, press the button a few times to be sure. 

After you’re done with maintenance, wait for it dry before attaching the battery. 

Additional Safety Measures

Here are extra points on safety measurements:

Avoid Working Alone

Never work alone with a chainsaw, have a colleague to help you if you need it. If you must work alone, then ensure someone knows about where you’re working and your emergency contacts. You should also have a vehicle inside the forest, so if needed, you can get out of there quickly. Besides these, always check out your working area for possible hazards. 

When Moving

If you’re traveling with your chainsaw or just moving from a place to another, you need to ensure that the cutting link or the chain isn’t moving. If you’re moving further, make sure the chain brake is activated and turn off the chainsaw. If you’re traveling with a chainsaw, ensure that the guide bar guard is fitted. 

Bottom Line

In conclusion, being safe and taking safety measures is vital when working with a chainsaw. There’s no use in taking risks with a chainsaw; it’s better to stand the heat of the jacket than to suffer fatal injuries. That’s why always be careful when using a chainsaw. 

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I've been raised in a family of international gardeners spanning multiple generations, from vegetable growers in Germany to fruit tree growers in Iran. I hope you find the information you read useful to using electric gardening tools in gardening.

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