Storm debris? Chainsaw safety tips from SCFC

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) has shared some safety tips for those facing the task of cleaning up storm debris.

Although widely available to the general public, chainsaw's are quite powerful and potentially deadly if used incorrectly by unskilled hands.  Even the South Carolina Forestry Commission requires its foresters, firefighters and forest technicians to complete its chainsaw safety classes before they are allowed to operate one on the job.

The danger lies not only in the blade of the machine, but the energy in a large tree you unleash when a cut is made.

Here are some safety tips and chainsaw techniques from Paul Watts, Forestry Commission Fire Chief:

  • Protective equipment includes more than just goggles. Chaps, gloves and hearing protection should be worn at all times.
  • Downed trees and limbs can be under a lot of stress. Watch for moving pieces when your chainsaw relieves that stress. A chainsaw operator can be pinned or injured from suddenly moving limbs.
  • Watch for "kickback" from the chainsaw. Your operator's manual offers tips on how to avoid this.
  • Avoid cutting over your head or from a ladder.
  • If you don't know how to tackle a clean up or if the job is too big, hire an experienced and insured professional from the phone book.
  • Children should never be allowed to operate a chainsaw and should be kept away from downed trees.
  • Be aware that a fallen tree may have taken a live power line with it.
  • Never operate a chainsaw alone. Have a buddy or responsible family member on hand in case something goes wrong.

Paul Watts teaches chainsaw safety to South Carolina Forestry Commission employees as a part of the agency's regular technician training curriculum.

Posted by Bryce Mursch