Chain saws can be dangerous. Some of the most serious injuries occur when the saw’s chain snags and kicks back toward the operator's chest and head. Chain saws now have safeguards, including an automatic chain brake, that are designed to reduce the hazard of kickback. But even models fully loaded with safety features must be used carefully.
Start with snug-fitting clothing and sturdy work boots, preferably steel-toed. Shield your legs with cut-resistant chaps and the backs of your hands with protective gloves, and wear a helmet with a face shield. You'll also need hearing protection, since practically all saws, including electric models, exceed the 85-decibel level at which hearing damage can occur.
Get a Grip and Stay Grounded
Grip gas-powered saws firmly when pull-starting and keep the saw on the ground; most handles include a spot for securing the saw with one foot while pulling the starter cord. Never saw while on a ladder or use the saw above shoulder height. And never saw using the tip of the chain and bar, where kickback can occur.
Maintenance is Key
Upkeep is also an important factor in chain-saw safety. A chain that's properly sharpened, tensioned, and oiled speeds cutting and helps prevent kickback while reducing wear on the chain and the bar on which it rides. A chain that's too loose can also slip off the bar and toward the operator as it spins.