Many chainsaw injuries are caused by careless use, but a large number result from poorly designed or defective chainsaws and parts, inadequate warnings, or incorrect operating instructions from the manufacturer. Under products liability law, chainsaw manufacturers, sellers, and distributors can be held liable for injuries and deaths that are caused by dangerous chainsaws.
Three Causes of Chainsaw Injuries
- Kickback: results when the chainsaw hits a solid object (i.e., an object it is unable to cut through) and bounces back at the operator. On the bounce-back, the chainsaw can cause serious injury to the operator.
- Pull-in refers to when the chainsaw is suddenly stopped because it is pinched in a tight spot or encounters a hard surface. The hard surface causes the chainsaw to suddenly pull forward which can result in loss of control over the chainsaw.
- Pushback: happens when the chain in the saw stops suddenly because it is caught on an object which can cause the chainsaw to push back toward the operator rapidly. Unlike kickback, the chainsaw does not bounce, so much as push back toward the operator.
Safeguards to Prevent Injury
The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) recommends the following advice to reduce the dangers associated with using chainsaws. The CDC recommends checking that the teeth are sharp and adequately lubricated. Also, during operation, users should periodically halt work and check the tension on the chain to ensure it isn’t too loose.
People should only use the appropriately sized chainsaw for the job. There could be a temptation to use the biggest, fastest chainsaw under the mistaken assumption that it will get the job done faster. However, owners should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to operate, adjust, and maintain the saw.
Hard surfaces or objects can result in chainsaw accidents. Therefore, the CDC recommends operator’s check their work area, including the word (or another object) they are working with to ensure that there are no errant nails or other unknown materials that could result in a loss of control over the chainsaw.
The CDC also advises operators to clear their work area of branches and tree limbs, to allow for an easy escape route in case the operator loses control over the chainsaw. Also, operators should only cut at waist level or below to ensure maximum leverage and control over the saw.