Man using chainsaw to cut tree

Chainsaw Safety

DF Safety Workplace Safety

When you see the power with which a chainsaw can cut down a tree, it’s not hard to understand why operators must respect their tool. A healthy respect for and knowledge of your chainsaw’s limits and hazards will help you effectively mitigate accidents and keep yourself and others safe. Whether you will be cutting trees or construction materials like HDPV pipe, you want to ensure you have the necessary preparations, safety measures, cutting techniques, and post-operational procedures you need to safely complete your work. 

When operating a chainsaw, there are some dangers that the user should be aware of: 

Kickback: This is one of the main dangers when using a chainsaw and happens when the tip of the guide bar contacts an object, or if the chain gets pinched, and causes the chainsaw to jerk back towards the operator. Kickback happens forcefully, and often quickly, which can result in losing control of the machine and causing injury. 

Cuts and injuries: As you know, chainsaws have very sharp, fast rotating chains that can cause severe cuts or injuries if not used safely and properly. Direct contact with the moving chain may result in deep wounds, amputations, or other serious injuries. 

Airborne objects and debris: When cutting trees or branches, the risk of falling objects and flying debris is high. Branches, or pieces of a tree, may fall and wood chips, bark, and other debris can also be propelled into the air, which can lead to potentially injuring the operator or bystanders. 

“Each year, approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws.”  


To minimize injuries, let’s discuss some ways you can use a chainsaw to ensure your work is done safely. 

Wear proper safety equipment 

When operating a chainsaw, you should always wear appropriate safety gear. This includes:  

  • Hard hat 
  • Safety googles or full-face shield 
  • Hearing protection 
  • Protective gloves 
  • Steel toed boots 
  • Chainsaw chaps or pants 

Wearing the necessary protective gear will minimize the risk or injury from debris, noise and cuts or lacerations. 

Understand the machine 

Prior to using a chainsaw, you want to ensure you are familiar with the machine, and how to use it correctly. Read the manufacturer’s manual so that you have a clear understanding of the operating instructions, safety guidelines, and proper maintenance procedures. Make sure you know how to use the controls properly, how to utilize safety features and handle the chainsaw safely. 

Be aware of surroundings 

As we mentioned, flying debris and objects are common when using a chainsaw. Therefore, you want to clear your work area of obstructions as well as any tripping hazards. You also want to ensure bystanders are cleared from the work area. Any kind of flammable materials should also be removed to minimize the risk of fire. 

Understand technique 

Correct cutting technique is key to safely operating a chainsaw. Hold the chainsaw firmly with both hands, while keeping a tight grip on the handles. Ensure you stand with your feet shoulder width apart, cut at waist height, and avoid cutting above shoulder height or above your head to maintain control. Whatever job you are doing, use the appropriate cutting technique to ensure it’s completed correctly, and safely. 

Be aware of kickback 

Kickback can lead to serious injury. Therefore, always maintain a tight grip on the chainsaw, ensure the machine is properly maintained, never cut with the tip of the chainsaw, and ensure you keep a safe distance from the rotating chain. A sharp and well tensioned chain is essential, so avoid using a chainsaw that has a dull chain. Inspect thoroughly before use to avoid injury. 

Chainsaws are powerful and should always be used safely. If you are unsure about operating a chainsaw, we have several courses that can help ensure you understand how to operate them properly. Please contact us if you have any questions or require additional information.