Chainsaw safety operations are essential for the safety of the operator and objects and people in the surrounding area. Before using the saw, conduct a visual safety inspection of the chainsaw to ensure that the chain is properly adjusted, lubricated and sharpened. Ensure that there is no physical damage to the chain brake, chain catch and muffler and that the saw has no damages based on the manufacturer's manual. Having properly fitted personal protective equipment to include cut-resistant steel-toed boots, chainsaw chaps, a hardhat with face shield, hearing protection, safety glasses and gloves is essential for operator safety. Inspect all personal protective equipment, or PPE, for damage and immediately remove damaged PPE from service. Be sure to use the manufacturer's recommended instructions for cleaning PPE. It's common to see torn or ripped chaps, excessive dirt or grease on the PPE.
After the initial visual inspection, operators should add a gas and bar chain lubricant before starting the chainsaw. If the saw needs to be refueled during the cutting operation, allow the saw to cool down before refueling. The saw should be started on the ground or in a location where the saw is firmly supported. Drop starting a chainsaw should be prohibited. The chain saw must be started with the chain brake engaged and using the thumb wrap method on the handles during operation.
Before starting the felling operation, or cutting down the tree, inspect the area around the tree to include the path of retreat and clear any brush or other potential obstacles away from the tree. Make sure that no other employee is within 200 feet of the tree. Proper cutting techniques must be used while cutting and never allow chainsaw operations above shoulder height or directly overhead. Be cautious of saw kickback. To avoid kickback, do not use the tip of the saw. The hinge method is the safest tree cutting technique.
A first aid kit must be provided at each worksite and the minimum required elements for the first aid kit are in Appendix A of the Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.266. Fire extinguishers must be provided and maintained during felling operations. Felling operations near overhead electric lines must be done in accordance with the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.333(c)(3).
Remember that preplanning is the best technique for safe operations. The approach for removing the tree can differ if the tree is dead, hung or just in a dangerous location. Safe and proper planning can eliminate most of the hazards before the operation begins.
For information on Occupational Safety and Health Standard 1910.266, visit https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.266.