Chainsaw Safety & Advice

What you should know

Chainsaw Advice

Be aware of the reactive forces of a saw. When you cut with the bottom of the bar, the chain can pull you into the work. When cutting with the top of the bar, it can push you away from the work. Your body stance and grip are determined by which part of the bar you are using.

You can experience a kickback almost every time you use a chain saw. Most are easy to control. But a severe kickback can cause one of the worst accidents you can have working with a chain saw. Kickback happens when the chain saw is suddenly thrown violently back towards the operator. It can happen while removing limbs from a tree that is on the ground or while cutting the trunk (bucking).
Kickback occurs when the chain is suddenly forced to stop. The most common way this happens is when the upper tip of the bar touches a tree, log, or branch. Another way the chain can be stopped suddenly is when a log or a limb pinches the top of the bar and chain while cutting from below with the top of the bar. Here are ways kickback can be prevented:

  • Keep upper tip of bar in solid wood.
  • If cutting a log from below, do it in two stages: first cut from above, then make another cut from below to meet the first cut.
  • Hold the chainsaw with both hands.
  • Grip the handle by putting your thumb around it.
  • Keep your elbow locked.
  • Never cutting above shoulder height.
  • Keep the saw close to your body.
  • Using a saw with chain brake.
  • Starting every cut under full throttle.
  • Keep the chain sharp.

Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaws are potentially one of the most dangerous tools that can be used in the garden and they can cause catastrophic injuries, especially if you're not familiar with using one. Whilst it's not compulsory to be formally trained in how to use a chainsaw for use in your own garden, it is highly recommended as many competent gardeners have been known to sever limbs and suffer other unimaginable injuries as a result of not being properly trained in how to use one properly by an expert. It is one of the few pieces of equipment that, no matter how carefully you follow the manufacturer's guidelines; it cannot make up for proper training.

Wear Protective Clothing

A safety helmet, eyes and ears protection, appropriate steel toe cap boots and both upper body and lower limb appropriate clothing made from protective material should be worn at all times, no matter how small the job. Your garden centre will be able to advise you on the types of protective gear that's favoured by those who use chainsaws regularly.

Consider the Job Carefully

Before powering up the chainsaw, consider the job carefully to identify any areas of difficulty. For example, if the job you're doing might possibly bring down another large tree, make sure you have the knowledge and any extra special equipment to do the job safely. Watch out for any overhead power cables or telephone lines and make sure there are no gas pipes, power cables etc. running beneath the ground onto which a heavy branch or tree you're cutting down may fall onto and damage.

Using the Chainsaw Safely

cs1Never operate a chainsaw if you're feeling tired or if you've been drinking alcohol. Some of the worst chainsaw accidents have occurred due to fatigue. You need to be alert at all times and have quick reactions. Kickback injuries are responsible for the majority of injuries to the face and parts of the upper body where it's difficult to protect yourself fully. Kickback occurs when there is a sudden upward deviation of the guide bar which is hard to control when the guide bar comes into contact with an object so ensure that the nose of the guide bar is kept well away from any possible obstruction, make sure you're not over-reaching when using the chainsaw, keep the saw below the level of your chest and always cut on full power.
Also, ensure that people are kept a safe distance away from where you're working and that the chainsaw is kept well away from children and stored safely after use.

There are different ways in which to use a chainsaw depending on what you are cutting down. For example, you'd adopt quite different techniques when felling a tree to simply cutting a few sturdy branches but you should get trained in how to use these different methods of cutting before tackling a job.
It cannot be emphasised too greatly just how potentially dangerous chainsaws can be if you're not properly trained and have experience in using one. If you're in any doubt at all, there are plenty of tree feller's and other gardening services providers which you can find in your local Yellow Pages, who can tackle the job for you.

Maintenance

Proper regular maintenance is crucial to ensuring the safe use of a chainsaw. Unlike some other tools, you need to carry out your maintenance checks every time you use a chainsaw. Things you should check include the silencer, side plate, front and rear hand guards, the chain catcher, chain links, drive sprocket, guide bar and anti-vibration mounts and these should all be checked for excessive wear and damage each time you use the chainsaw.
You should also ensure the tension of the chain is correct and sharpened to the correct specifications as recommended by the manufacturer. Check that the power switch works correctly and that all screws and nuts are secure, the chain brake mechanism is working correctly and that the safety catch is working properly so that you cannot throttle up the chainsaw until the safety catch has been released.

Without carrying out all of these checks, the chainsaw might be difficult to control at best and, at worse, it could cause serious injury.
Secure the fuel cap once you've filled the chainsaw and wipe away any petrol residue before starting it up.

Warning!

Read and follow all safety precautions in the Safety Manual. Improper use can cause serious or fatal injury.
Chainsaw Safety Manual
This manual contains the safety precautions and recommended cutting techniques outlined in Grizzly chainsaw Owners Manuals. Even if you are an experienced chainsaw user, it is in your own interests to familiarize yourself with the latest rules and regulations regarding safe use of your chainsaw.
Please note that the illustrations on page 2 show the common parts found in a Grizzly chainsaw.
You should therefore always refer to the Owners Manual of your particular saw model.

Warning!

Because a chainsaw is a high-speed wood-cutting tool, some special safety precautions must be observed as with any other power saw to reduce the risk of personal injury. Careless or improper use may cause serious or even fatal injury. Read and follow all safety precautions in current Owners Manual or Safety Manual.

Always use two hands to operate the chainsaw.

Warning!

Avoid contact of bar tip with any object. This can cause the guide bar to kick suddenly up and back, which may result in serious or fatal injury.

Technical

Definitions

1. Fuel Pump. Fills carburettor with fuel to simplify starting.
2. Twist Lock. Lock for carburettor box cover.
3. Chain Brake. A device to stop the rotation of the chain if activated in a kickback situation by the operator's hand or by inertia.
4. Saw Chain. A loop consisting of cutters tie straps and drive links.
5. Guide Bar. Supports and guides the saw chain.
6. Front Chain Tensioner. Permits precise adjustment of chain tension.
7. Side Chain Tensioner. Permits precise adjustment of chain tension.
8. Adjusting Wheel. Permits precise adjustment of chain tension.
9. Chain Sprocket. The toothed wheel that drives the saw chain.
10. Chain Sprocket Cover. Covers the clutch and the sprocket.
11. Bumper Spike. Toothed stop for holding saw steady against wood.
12. Chain Catcher. Helps to reduce the risk of operator contact by a chain when it breaks or comes off the bar.
13. Decompression Valve. Releases compression pressure to make starting easier.
14. Muffler. Reduces engine exhaust noise and directs the exhaust gases.
15. Starter Grip. The grip of the starter, for starting the engine.
16. Spark Plug Terminal. Connects the spark plug with the ignition wire.
17. Oil Filler Cap. For closing the oil tank.
18. Fuel Filler Cap. For closing the fuel tank.
19. Master Control Lever. Lever for choke control, starting throttle, run and stop switch positions.
20. Throttle Trigger Interlock. Must be depressed before the throttle trigger can be activated.
21. Throttle Trigger. Controls the speed of the engine.
22. Front Handle. Handle bar for the left hand at front of saw.
23. Front Hand Guard. Provides protection against projecting branches and helps prevent the left hand from touching the chain if it slips off the handle bar.
24. Rear Handle. The support handle for the right hand located at or toward the rear of the saw.
25. Rear Hand Guard. Gives added protection to operator's right hand.

Guide Bar Nose

The exposed end of the guide bar. (not illustrated, see chapter "Tensioning the Saw Chain".)

Clutch. Couples engine to chain sprocket when engine is accelerated beyond idle speed. (not illustrated).

Anti-Vibration System. The anti-vibration system includes a number of buffers designed to reduce the transmission of engine and cutting attachment vibrations to the operator's hands. (not illustrated).

Safety Precautions
The use of any chainsaw may be hazardous. The saw chain has many sharp cutters. If the cutters contact your flesh, they will cut you, even if the chain is not moving. At full throttle, the chain speed can reach 45 mph (20 m/s). It is important that you read, fully understand and observe the following safety precautions and warnings.

Read the Owners Manual and the safety instructions periodically.

Pay special attention to the section on reactive forces.

Warning!
Reactive forces, including kickback, can be dangerous. Careless or improper use of any chainsaw may cause serious or fatal injury.

All safety precautions that are generally observed when working with an axe or a hand saw also apply to the operation of chainsaws. However, because a chainsaw is a high-speed, fast-cutting power tool, special safety precautions must be observed to reduce the risk of personal injury.

Have your Grizzly dealer show you how to operate your chainsaw. Observe all applicable local safety regulations, standards and ordinances.

Warning!
Minors should never be allowed to use a chainsaw. Bystanders, especially children, and animals should not be allowed in the area where a chainsaw is in use. Never let the saw run unattended. Store it in a locked place away from children and empty the fuel tank before storing for longer than a few days.
Do not lend or rent your chainsaw without the Owners Manual. Be sure that anyone using your saw reads and understands the information contained in this manual.

These safety precautions and warnings apply to the use of all Grizzly chainsaws. Different models may have different parts and controls. See the appropriate section of your Owners Manual for a description of the controls and function of the parts of your model saw.

Safe use of a chainsaw involves
1. The operator
2. The saw
3. The use of the saw.

THE OPERATOR

Physical Condition

You must be in good physical condition and mental health and not under the influence of any substance (drugs, alcohol) which might impair vision, dexterity or judgement.
Do not operate a chainsaw when you are fatigued. Be alert If you get tired while operating your chainsaw, take a break. Tiredness may result in loss of control. Working with any chainsaw can be strenuous. If you have any condition that might be aggravated by strenuous work, check with your doctor before operating a chainsaw.

Warning!
Prolonged use of chainsaws (or other machines) exposing the operator to vibrations may produce white finger disease (Raynauds phenomenon) or carpal tunnel syndrome. These conditions reduce the hands ability to feel and regulate temperature, produce numbness and burning sensations and may cause nerve and circulation damage and tissue necrosis.
All factors which contribute to white finger disease are not known, but cold weather, smoking and diseases or physical conditions that affect blood vessels and blood transport, as well as high vibration levels and long periods of exposure to vibration are mentioned as factors in the development of white finger disease. In order to reduce the risk of white finger disease and carpal tunnel syndrome, please note the following:

Many Grizzly models are available with an anti-vibration (AV) system designed to reduce the transmission of vibrations created by the engine and cutting attachment to the operator's hands.
An AV system is recommended for those persons using chainsaws on a regular or sustained basis.

Wear gloves and keep your hands warm.

Keep the saw chain sharp and the saw, including the AV system, well maintained. A dull chain will increase cutting time, and pressing a dull chain through wood will increase the vibrations transmitted to your hands. A saw with loose components or with damaged or worn AV buffers will also tend to have higher vibration levels.

Maintain a firm grip at all times, but do not squeeze the handles with constant, excessive pressures.
Take frequent breaks.

All the above mentioned precautions do not guarantee that you will not sustain white finger disease or carpal tunnel syndrome. Therefore, continual and regular users should monitor closely the condition of their hands and fingers. If any of the above symptoms appear, seek medical advice immediately.

Proper Clothing

Warning!
To reduce the risk of injury, the operator should wear proper protective apparel.
Clothing must be sturdy and snug-fitting, but allow complete freedom of movement. Avoid loose fitting jackets, scarf's, neckties, jewellery, flared or cuffed pants, unconfined long hair or anything that could become entangled with the saw or brush. Wear overalls or jeans with a reinforced cut retardant insert or cut retardant chaps.

Protect your hands with gloves when handling saw and saw chain. Heavy duty, nonslip gloves improve your grip and protect your hands.

Good footing is most important in chainsaw work. Wear sturdy boots with nonslip soles. Steel-toed safety boots are recommended.

To reduce the risk of injury to your eyes never operate a chainsaw unless wearing goggles or properly fitted safety glasses with adequate top and side protection complying with your national standard.

Wear an approved safety hard hat to protect your head.
Chainsaw noise may damage your hearing. Always wear sound barriers (ear plugs or ear mufflers) to protect your hearing. Continual and regular users should have their hearing checked regularly.

THE SAW

Parts of the chainsaw; for illustrations and definitions of the parts see the chapter on Main Parts of Saw.

Warning!
Never modify a chainsaw in any way. Only attachments and parts supplied by Grizzly or expressly approved by Grizzly for use with the specific Grizzly saw models are authorized

THE USE OF THE SAW

Transporting the chainsaw
Warning!
Always stop the engine before putting a chainsaw down or carrying it. Carrying a chainsaw with the engine running is extremely dangerous.
Accidental acceleration of the engine can cause the chain to rotate. During operation, the power-head muffler and the material around it reach extremely high temperatures. Avoid touching the hot muffler, you could receive serious burns.

By hand: When carrying your saw by hand, the engine must be stopped and the saw must be in the proper position. Grip the front handle and place the muffler away from the body. The chain guard (scabbard) should be over the chain and the guide bar, which should point backwards. When carrying your saw, the bar should be behind you.

By vehicle: When transporting in a vehicle, keep chain and bar covered with the chain guard. Properly secure your saw to prevent turnover, fuel spillage and damage to the saw.

Preparation for the use of the saw

Take off the chain guard and inspect for safety in operation. For assembly, follow the procedure described in the chapter Mounting the Bar and Chain of your Owners Manual.

Grizzly chain, guide bar and sprocket must match each other in gauge and pitch.
Before replacing any bar and chain, see the sections on Specifications, "Kickback".

Warning!
Proper tension of the chain is extremely important. In order to avoid improper setting, the tensioning procedure must be followed as described in your manual. Never start the saw with the sprocket cover loose. Check chain tension once more after having tightened and thereafter at regular intervals (whenever the saw is shut off). If the chain becomes loose while cutting, shut off the engine and then tighten. Never try to tighten the chain while the engine is running!

Fuelling
Your Grizzly chainsaw uses an oil-Petrol mixture for fuel (see chapter 'Fuel' of your Owners Manual).

Warning!
Petrol is an extremely flammable fuel. If spilled or ignited by a spark or other ignition source, it can cause fire and serious burn injury or property damage. Use extreme caution when handling Petrol or fuel mix.
Do not smoke or bring any fire or flame near the fuel or the chainsaw. Note that combustible fuel vapours may be vented from the fuel system.

Fuelling Instructions

Warning!
Fuel your chainsaw in well-ventilated areas, outdoors only. Always shut off the engine and allow it to cool before refuelling. Petrol vapour pressure may build up inside the fuel tank of a two cycle engine depending on the fuel used, the weather conditions, and the venting system of the tank. In order to reduce the risk of burns or other personal injury from escaping fuel vapour and fumes, remove the fuel filler cap on the Grizzly product carefully so as to allow any pressure build-up in the tank to release slowly. Never remove fuel filler cap while engine is running.
Select bare ground for fuelling and move at least 10 feet (3 m) from fuelling spot before starting the engine. Wipe off any spilled fuel before starting your saw, and check for leakage.

Warning!
Check for fuel leakage while refuelling and during operation. If fuel or oil leakage is found, do not start or run the engine until leak is fixed and spilled fuel has been wiped away. Take care not to get fuel on our clothing. If this happens, change your clothing immediately.

Warning!
Unit vibrations can cause an improperly tightened fuel filler cap to loosen or come off and spill quantities of fuel. In order to reduce the risk of fuel spillage and fire, tighten fuel filler cap by hand with as much force as possible.
The screwdriver end of the Grizzly combination wrench or other similar tool can be used as an aid in tightening slotted fuel filler caps.

Starting
The chain brake must be engaged when starting the saw.

Warning!
Your chainsaw is a one-person saw. Do not allow other persons to be near the running chainsaw. Start and operate your saw without assistance. For specific starting instructions, see the appropriate section of the Owners Manual. Proper starting methods reduce the risk of injury. Do not drop start. This method is very dangerous because you may lose control of the saw.

There are two recommended methods for starting your chainsaw.
With the first method, the chainsaw is started on the ground. Make sure the chain brake is engaged (see Chain Brake chapter in your Owners Manual) and place the chainsaw on firm ground or other solid surface in an open area. Maintain good balance and secure footing.
Grip the front handlebar of the saw firmly with your left hand and press down. For saws with a rear handle level with the ground, put the toe of your right foot into the rear handle and press down. With your right hand pull out the starter grip slowly until you feel a definite resistance and then give it a brisk, strong pull.

The second recommended method for starting your chainsaw allows you to start the saw without placing it on the ground. Make sure the chain brake is engaged; grip the front handle of the chainsaw firmly with your left hand. Keep your arm on the front handle in a locked (straight) position. Hold the rear handle of the saw tightly between your legs just above the knees. Maintain good balance and secure footing. Pull the starting grip slowly with your right hand until you feel a definite resistance and then give it a brisk, strong pull.

Warning!
Be sure that the guide bar and chain are clear of you and all other obstructions and objects, including the ground. To reduce the risk of kickback, always engage the chain brake before starting. Never attempt to start the chainsaw when the guide bar is in a cut or kerf.

Warning!
When you pull the starter grip, do not wrap the starting rope around your hands. Do not allow the grip to snap back, but guide the starter rope slowly back to permit the rope to rewind properly. Failure to follow this procedure may result in injury to hand or fingers and may damage the starter mechanism.

Important adjustments

Working Conditions
Operate the chainsaw under good visibility and daylight conditions only.

Warning!
After adjusting a chain, start the saw, let the engine run for a while, then switch engine off and recheck chain tension. Proper chain tension is very important at all times.

Warning!
Your chainsaw produces poisonous exhaust fumes as soon as the combustible engine is running. These gases (e.g. carbon monoxide) may be colourless and odourless. To reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury from breathing toxic fumes, never run the chainsaw indoors or in poorly ventilated locations. Ensure proper ventilation when working in trenches or other confined areas.

Warning!
The muffler and other parts of the engine (e.g. fins of the cylinder, spark plug) become hot during operation and remain hot for a while after stopping the engine. To reduce risk of burns do not touch the muffler and other parts while they are hot. Don't work alone. Keep within calling distance of others in case help is needed. Sponginess in the feel of the saw, increased vibration or increased bottoming during normal operation may indicate damage, breakage or excessive wear. Buffers should always be replaced in sets. If you have any questions as to whether the buffers should be replaced, consult our Grizzly servicing centre.

Warning!
Take extreme care in wet and freezing weather (rain, snow, ice). Put off the work when the weather is windy, stormy or rainfall is heavy.

Warning!
Avoid stumbling on obstacles such as stumps, roots or rocks and watch out for holes or ditches. Clear the area where you are working. Be extremely cautious when working on slopes or uneven ground. There is increased danger of slipping on freshly debarked logs.

Warning!
To reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury to the operator or bystanders, never use the saw with one hand.
You cannot control reactive forces and you may lose control of the saw, which can result in the skating or bouncing of the bar, and chain along the limb or log. Even for those compact saws designed for use in confined spaces, one-handed operation is dangerous because the operator may lose control.

Cutting Instructions

Grip: Always hold the saw firmly with both hands when the engine is running. Place your left hand on front handle bar and your right hand on rear handle and throttle trigger. Left-handers should follow these instructions too.
Wrap your fingers tightly around the handles, keeping the handles cradled between your thumb and forefinger. With your hands in this position, you can best oppose and absorb the push; pull and kickback forces of your saw without losing control (see section on reactive forces). Make sure your chainsaw handles and grip are in good condition and free of moisture, pitch, oil or grease.

Warning!
Never touch a chain with your hand or any part of your body when the engine is running, even when the chain is not rotating.

Warning!
Do not cut any material other than wood or wooden objects. Use your chainsaw for cutting only. It is not designed for prying or shovelling away limbs, roots or other objects. When sawing, make sure that the saw chain does not touch any foreign materials such as rocks, fences, nails and the like.
Such objects may be flung off, damage the saw chain or cause the saw to kickback.

Warning!
In order to keep control of your saw, always maintain a firm foothold.
Never work on a ladder, or on any other insecure support. Never use the saw above shoulder height.

Warning!
Never work in a tree unless you have received specific, professional training for such work, are properly secured (such as tackle and harness system or a lift bucket), have both hands free for operating the chainsaw in a cramped environment and have taken proper precautions to avoid injury from falling limbs or branches.

Position the chainsaw in such a way that your body is clear of the cutting attachment whenever the engine is running. Stand to the left of cut while bucking.
Don't put pressure on the saw when reaching the end of a cut. The pressure may cause the bar and rotating chain to pop out of the cut or kerf, go out of control and strike the operator or some other object. If the rotating chain strikes some other object, a reactive force may cause the moving chain to strike the operator. Reactive forces including kickback.

Warning!
Reactive forces may occur any time the chain is rotating. Reactive forces can be dangerous! In any chainsaw, the powerful force used to cut wood can be reversed (and work against the operator). If the rotating chain is suddenly stopped by contact with any solid object like a log or branch or is pinched, the reactive forces may occur instantly. These reactive forces may result in loss of control which may, in turn, cause serious or fatal injury. An understanding of the causes of these reactive forces may help you avoid loss of control.

Reactive Forces

The most common reactive forces are Kickback, Push-back, and Pull-in.

kbKickback may occur when the moving saw chain near the upper quadrant of the bar nose contacts a solid object or is pinched. The reaction of the cutting force of the chain causes a rotational force on the chainsaw in the direction opposite to the chain movement. This may fling the bar up and back in an uncontrolled arc mainly in the plane of the bar. Under some cutting circumstances the bar moves towards the operator, who may suffer severe or fatal injury.

Kickback may occur when the nose of the guide bar is pinched unexpectedly, unintentionally contacts solid material in the wood or is incorrectly used to begin a plunge or boring cut.

It may also occur during limbing. The greater the force of the kickback reaction, the more difficult it becomes for the operator to control the saw. Many factors influence the occurrence and force of the kickback reaction. These include chain speed, the speed at which the bar and chain contact the object, the angle of contact, the condition of the chain and other factors.

The type of bar and saw chain you use is an important factor in the occurrence and force of the kickback reaction. Grizzly bar and chain types are designed to reduce kickback forces.