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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Chainsaws in the workplace - friend or foe?

Maralyn Kastel - Friday, May 31, 2013

A chainsaw is the one of most dangerous hand tools that can be purchased on the open market. It requires no license and no formal training to own or operate.

Each year hundreds of Australians are injured in both backyard accidents and work related tasks using chainsaws and approximately 40,000 injuries were reported last year in the United States due to chainsaw accidents...and most could have been prevented.  Whilst fatalities are low, loss of limbs, amputations and severe lacerations to hands and lower extremities account for approx. 90% of injuries with 10% involving the head and neck.

Chainsaw wounds can be found in all parts of the body, especially the thighs and fingers.  The typical chain-saw wound is a multiple superficial laceration, soft tissue wounds are usually heavily bruised and jagged, and bone lesions are rare and superficial.

The most common causes of these accidents is “kickback”. This occurs when the rotating chain is stopped because it has hit a solid object, such as a nail or a knot in the timber. As the chain is moving at a very high speed the whole saw is thrown straight back at the operator with force, often hitting the operator and causing very serious wounds.

Personal protective equipment
Chainsaws produce noise in excess of 100 decibels so hearing protection must always be worn.

Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing, including hard hat, safety glasses, strong work boots (steel cap and above the ankle preferred), close fitting clothes and leg protection (cut resistant trousers or chaps).

Consult with your workers
In the workplace, make sure you talk with your workers about the hazards and risks of using a chainsaw and safe work methods for using a chainsaw.

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