Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Using a rear handled chainsaw

The use of petrol driven chainsaws can be very dangerous if the operator is not trained and practised in its use. We have put together some information on using a chainsaw to help people to understand how one should be handled and some of the regulations that have to be followed.

Firstly there are two types of chainsaw, rear handled and top handled. Top handled chainsaws can only be used when working off the ground i.e. climbing or working on a mobile elevating platform. We will be presenting information on the use of the top handled chainsaw in a later article.

So the use of rear handled chainsaws is for groundwork i.e. felling, clearing of windblow, snedding (removal of small branches from a felled tree) and sectioning of trunks and large branches.

All chainsaw users must be aware of the weather conditions that they are working in and also the dangers of being cut by a saw, hit by falling timber, vibration and noise.

Therefore the first area we will look at is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is required. It should be understood that no PPE can actually protect you 100% against cuts and therefore it is important to remember this and not just rely on the protection but ensure that you are minimising any risk by the application of common-sense and good practice learned during training and from experience.

Items of Equipment:

Leg Protection: The trousers or leggings should incorporate chain clogging material complying with EN 381-5 Class1 you will find these on the Granite Workwear site under Forestry Clothing, we stock a number of items from the SIP range including Hi Vis in both Orange to GO/RT 3279 for use on or near railways and also Yellow, both colours comply with EN 471 class 2.

Outer clothing: These items should be non-snag and in certain cases Hi Vis, the jackets may or may not have cut protection, although that is advisable.

Safety Helmet: this must comply with EN 397 these can be found under Forestry Tools & Accessories.

Eye Protection: this can be either a mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses complying with EN 166.

Hearing Protection: This protection must comply with EN 352; the best way is to use helmet mounted ear defenders for example the Sordin or Peltor products found on the Granite Workwear site.

Gloves: The type of glove required will be dependent on the Risk Assessment and the type of machine being used. Areas to be considered are; protection from cuts from the chainsaw or thorny material cold or wet conditions as well as vibration. For protection against chainsaw cuts the gloves should comply with EN 381-7, for example the Timberland Protimber L available on the Granite Workwear site.

Protective Boots: These must have a good grip sole and also protection in the front vamp and instep complying with EN 20345. We recommend the Haix range to be found under Forestry Footwear on the site.

First Aid Kit: Each person must have a first aid kit on them to include a large wound dressing; we also recommend carrying a pouch of Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Machine Checks

The machine should be checked for the following before use:
  • The stop switch is clearly marked and works.
  • The front hand guard, chain brake, chain catcher and anti-vibration mounts are all undamaged and working.
  • The throttle opens only when the throttle lock is depressed.
  • The saw is fitted with a chain type recommended by the manufacturer and is designed to reduce kickback.
  • The exhaust system and silencer are in a good state of repair.
  • The saw displays the mandatory hearing protection symbol.
  • The equipment is available for sharpening, maintenance and adjustments and a chain cover for use during transportation.
Preparing for work

Operators should not work alone, a risk assessment has been carried out and any significant points are recorded. All personnel involved in the worksite are aware of and comply with the controls in place.

Ensure that a safe method of work has been agreed including a 5 metre distance is maintained between workers and any ancillary equipment.

Ensure that everybody understands the information needed to contact the Emergency Services including directions to the site and access information. Also ensure that the appropriate signage is in place to warn that this is a hazardous worksite.

Ensure that fuel is stored in appropriate containers with non-spill spouts and that it is stored away from direct sunlight and any possible source of ignition. Do not start the chainsaw within 4 metres of the refuelling point.

Starting the Saw

Make sure you are a safe distance from other people and that the saw is clear of obstructions.

When starting from cold, put the saw on the ground and set the controls following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Place one foot on the rear handle and your left hand on the front handle, then pull the starter cord firmly.

From hot the safest way is using a ground start but without using the choke or the half throttle stop controls, however you can use a thigh or knee start; grip the rear handle firmly between the knees grip the front handle with your left hand and then pull the starter cord firmly.

Using the Saw

The saw must be used with the right hand on the rear handle; the thumb of the left hand must be under the front handle.

Check that the chain brake works correctly, use the chain brake when walking on the site or if the saw is not being used for more than 15 seconds. The brake should be applied with the back of the left wrist.

Stop the saw if it is not in use for longer periods.

Be wary of kickback, this is where there is uncontrolled upward and or backward motion of the guide bar. It is usually caused when the nose of the guide bar comes in contact with a log or branch, when the wood being cut pinches the saw chain while cutting, or when the chain catches a piece of metal that may have been ‘buried’ in the wood such as a nail.

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