The winter months present many situations where the use of a chain saw is necessary, including cutting firewood and removing storm-damaged trees after winter storms.
Chain saws are important and useful tools used by workers in many industries but they are also inherently dangerous and present some significant risks if they are not used correctly.
Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys believe that both employers and employees need to be aware of chain saw safety requirements and tips in order to avoid a serious chain saw accident. Ultimately, however, employers have an obligation to train their employees and to enforce safety rules and precautions so that chain saw accidents don’t happen.
Safe Operating Tips for Chain Saws
Operating a chain saw safely can be a challenge, even for experienced and skilled workers, since saws are dangerous by their nature. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has provided some guidance on safe chain saw use and their tips address several different aspects of working with saws.
According to OSHA, in order to operate your chain saw safely, you need to exercise care even before you turn it on. Prior to starting the chain saw, you should:
- Check the tension of the chain, all of the controls on the saw, and all handles and bolts.
- Check that the chain saw is sufficiently sharp.
- Confirm that the lubrication reservoir is full.
- Refrain from drop starting. Always start the saw when it is placed either on the ground or on some other solid support.
- Do not start the chain saw within ten feet of the fueling area.
- Engage the brake on the chain saw before starting.
These tips will help to ensure you don’t get hurt even before you begin. OSHA also provides some safety guidance on both fueling a chain saw and on general chain saw safety. For example, when you obtain fuel for the saw, it should always be transported in approved containers. The fuel should also be dispensed no less than 10 feet from any source of ignition.
Once the saw is fueled and operational, tips center on keeping your hands on the saw’s handle; avoiding loose-fitting clothing; clearing a debris-free path to walk in when using the saw and paying attention to the specific features of the items being cut (such as tree limbs that don’t bend when cut or branches that could spring back and hit you when they are under tension).
Ensuring the Safe Operation of Chain Saws
By following the safety tips provided by OSHA, employees can reduce the risk of a serious chain saw accident that could result in amputation, as other serious injuries including death. Employers should also ensure that safe practices are used and that they only hire trained workers to do chain saw work.
Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken, there is no way to completely eliminate the dangers of using a chain saw. Workers should remember that negligence is not a factor in making a workers’ compensation claim against their employers. This means that even if all precautions are taken, if an accident happens and a worker is injured by a chain saw at work, he or she can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits.
If you or someone you love is out of work and facing a workers’ compensation claim, Lee Law Offices, P.A. offers free appointments to discuss your rights.
Protecting Your Rights as a N.C. Employee, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, Sept. 11, 2012
Construction Workers at Risk of Workplace Accidents During Holiday Travel Season, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, Nov. 18, 2012