Since last week’s major storm up in Northern Michigan, tree clean-up is the task at hand for a great many of residents. Obviously, caution is paramount when operating a chainsaw. Kickback is the most common and seriously harmful consequence of either inexperienced or careless operation. Understanding the correct way to operate a chainsaw and avoid kickbacks is relatively straightforward.
Kickback Prevention Pointers
Here’s a shortlist of additional guidelines for preventing kickback:
- Perform Only Cuts You Are Trained For
Boring cuts and other techniques where the nose of the saw is used or at high risk to make contact with material should only be attempted with the right instruction and experience.
- Keep Your Eyes on the Saw
Often, chainsaw users will be very careful while cutting, but then temporarily shift their attention from the saw between cuts as they’re moving between cutting positions. It is very common for users to nick the upper nose of the saw on a branch or other object between cuts, resulting in kickback or other loss of tool control.Keeping eyes on the saw at all times will prevent this kind of kickback accident.
- Be Material-Minded
Kickback often happens when the nose of a chainsaw gets pinched during a cut.For example, if a log or board is propped up off the ground, a simple down-cut straight through the material will cause the material to lean into the kerf about halfway through the cut, pinching the nose of the chainsaw. When cutting material is elevated, the down-cut should only be continued a little less than halfway through. Then, an up-cut from the bottom should complete the cut, allowing the two halves to fall without pinching the saw and risking an accident.Other kickback accidents occur that involve the material itself, not just how thematerial shifts when cut. Some logs or wood are violently twisted and holding a lot of tension, especially naturally fallen logs. Cutting through these areas will sometimes release the tension and quickly change the orientation of material around the working end of the saw. There are several hazards associated with kind of situation and kickback is one of them.The idea is to be aware of what’s happening with the material. Get a feel for it before making major cuts, and think about how the cuts will affect how it falls, its orientation, and how it might pinch the saw.
- Understand and Use Available Safety Features
Chainsaws are available with a number of features for reducing the risk and severity of kickback accidents. These safety features include: chainbrakes, hand guards, throttle lockouts, and low-kickback chains.For more information about Chainsaw Chains and Features–Click here.
- Re-Enter Cuts Very Carefully
This is another time when it is very easy for kickback to occur.
- Use Caution When Cutting Small Material
Smaller material can get caught in the chain, or be easily overlooked and cause kickback.
- Keep Chainsaws Well-Maintained and Follow Other Safety GuidelinesMaintenance is especially important to kickback prevention, as a loose chain or incorrectly-set depth gauge can also cause kickback accidents.
If resources permit, it is advisable to hire expert tree service companies to clear fallen trees and debris; there are multiple reputable and local tree service companies here in Northern Michigan permitting you to “keep it local” too.
Authored by L. Page Graves
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Page Graves now helps members of the same community who need legal help with Michigan No-Fault Automobile Insurance Law, representing medical service providers and severely injured people in collecting unpaid and underpaid no-fault benefits. A partner with Smith & Johnson in Traverse City, Mr. Graves has been repeatedly included in the annual Best Lawyers since 2012.