Chainsaws Hurt

At 9 am this morning in Sydney, a worker  was cut in the neck with a chainsaw. It is understood the chainsaw had kicked back, striking him in the neck and shoulder. The 32-year-old victim was working with a group of people to cut down a tree and is a stable but serious condition.

Chainsaws are dangerous:

  • Each year almost 1,000 Australians are badly injured while operating a chainsaw.
  • A 1989 USA study provided the amazing statistic that the average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches, and incurred medical costs of US$5,600 on average.
  • A further comprehensive US study on chainsaw injuries undertaken between 2009 and 2013 reported a total of 115,895 hospital visits stemming from chainsaw use over this period. Most injuries were to males (95%) who were predominantly aged between 30–59 years.  The majority of injuries were lacerations (80%).
  • In April, Film Director John Clabburn was using a chainsaw to cut his garden hedges when he cut into his own arm by accident. He fell three metres off a ladder and on the way down suffered a severe laceration to his right arm. In a tragic twist of fate, John’s wife revealed he had bought the chainsaw earlier that day. He later passed away in hospital.
  • In January, a tradesperson suffered significant blood loss when a chainsaw kicked back and slashed his neck and shoulder while doing construction work in Sydney’s north.
  • Last year, a groundsman in the UK was killed when a chainsaw kicked back and cut his neck. He was found by his wife with the chainsaw sitting on his chest still running. His father said, ” He was very aware of safety measures and would warn others, but it just seems he was complacent on this occasion and wasn’t wearing safety clothing. All I can say is that you can never be complacent with this kind of equipment.”

Chainsaw Kickback:
Kickback is the leading cause of the most severe and traumatic chainsaw-related injuries typically to the head and neck. It happens in only tenths of a second and occurs when the chain abruptly stops as a link comes into contact with the wood.

Safety Information:
A study – Kickback risk of portable chainsaws while cutting wood of different properties, reported that in order to reduce the risk of chainsaw kickback, it is necessary for the operator to be fully trained and competent BUT to also account for the properties of the wood to be cut. The study recommended the following information could be used in users’ manuals.

  • Extra attention is necessary when softwood logs are cut because of the large kickback angle caused by the saw chain cutting links catching wood and sudden slowing down.
  • The risk of kickback is lowest when wood is cut across log fibres; it increases when wood is cut along wood log fibres.
  • Extra attention is necessary when wood with elevated humidity is cut because of an increased risk of kickback.
  • It is very important to maintain chain brake efficiency. The brake not only stops the chain (at kickback) but it also decreases the kickback angle by dispersing kickback energy in the chainsaw (chain brake) mechanisms.
  • The greater the diameter of wood logs cut across fibres, the higher the risk of kickback. The risk of kickback is greatest when guide bar tips are in contact with a flat wood surface

A video hosted on Youtube shows the speed of  a chainsaw blade in a kickback episode. WARNING – This video shows a kickback – there is no injury shown, but some may still find this video confronting. VIDEO

If you need any further information or advice from epar on chainsaw safety, please contact your epar Area Manager or send us an email to [email protected] or call our free Hotline 1300 471 175.