In this article, we will be looking at ten safety features that are worth being aware of when operating a chainsaw. While the safety features on a chainsaw are not restricted to what is on this list, most modern chainsaws will be sold with them included.
As with all things, a chainsaw is a dangerous tool that should be handled correctly, so read the instruction manual that comes with your chosen chainsaw. Get familiar with each feature and know what your options are in the event of a failure.
For two average-priced chainsaws that come with most of the safety features listed in this article, see below.
10 Safety Features on a Chainsaw
1. Chain brake
A chain brake is an important safety feature as it helps avoid kickbacks when the chainsaw is in use. One of the main risks when using a chainsaw is the chance of the chainsaw kicking back.
Kickback happens as a result of contact with the upper quadrant of the tip of the bar. The tip of the saw bar is then pulled upwards, and the chainsaw is thrown backwards by the force of the rotating chain. The chain brake works by stopping the chains movement and applying a steel brake band around the clutch drum.
To be safe, it is always better to ensure the tip of the chainsaw bar does not come into contact with anything when in use, and never try to cut with the kickback sector of the bar.
This is one of the main reasons the chain brake is an important safety feature of the chainsaw. If activated, it can stop the chain in a fraction of a second in the case of a kickback.
Linear kickback occurs when the wood on either side of the bar closes in on it, resulting in the chain being ‘pinched’. Again, the chain stops momentarily before the force is reversed and the chainsaw bar thrown back towards the operator.
Pull in occurs when the moving chain on the bottom of the bar makes contact with something solid in the wood. The chain stops and is then thrown forward resulting in the potential loss of control by the operator.
2. Throttle Lock
The throttle lock is designed into modern chainsaws to prevent accidental throttle advance. As an additional safety feature you must activate the throttle lock to operate the throttle. The throttle will only work if the lock is pressed in. So you have to hold the rear handle of the chainsaw with a firm grip while in use.
3. Chain catcher
When chainsaws are not properly maintained, there’s always a chance that the chain may break or come flying off while in use. The chain catcher is designed to catch the chain and protect the operator. In effect it stops the chain from flying backwards and hitting the chainsaw operator in the face, if it derails.
4. Right Hand Guard
As the name implies, the right hand guard is designed to protect your fingers if the chain happens to derail or fail while in use. The right-hand guard is designed to protect the user’s hand, if the chain should break off.
5. Top Hand Guard
Similar to the right hand guard, the top hand guard is strategically placed at the top of the chainsaw, in front of the handle on the engine. These would often be found on top-handle chainsaws and aHire situated there to protect your hand from a loose or broken chain whipping back
6. Dead-Man’s Switch
An aptly named trigger that is connected to the throttle that is depressed during use. When this is released, the chain brake is activated in turn, deactivating the throttle.
7. Centrifugal Clutch
This is a device that disengages the chainsaw when the engine has been idling for a number of set minutes. It then only allows the chain move when the throttle is fully squeezed and it stops it from doing damage in the event of the chainsaw operator getting distracted.
8. Marked/Different Colour Caps For Fuel And Oil
As with most cars today, many chainsaws also come with different colour caps for fuel. Nothing can be much worse than an overeager operator mistakenly pouring diesel into a petrol chainsaw.
9. Anti-Vibration Technology
This counts as a huge benefit to have on a chainsaw since there can be quite serious health consequences from being subject to intense vibrations over extended periods. Frequent use of power tools can cause health problems to the operator due to continuous vibration.
It can also affect blood circulation and cause debilitating effects as well as the development of conditions such as ‘vibration white finger’ and ‘hand-arm vibration syndrome’. As a result, good quality chainsaws generally have in-built anti-vibration systems included to reduce the any potential strain and discomfort.
There are various types of anti-vibration system, ranging from the separation of the rigid bar and engine from the outer casing, the use of metal springs and rubber bushes to absorb vibration shocks and really high-end Chainsaws will can even be fitted with heated handles, which encourage good blood circulation. Some machines will have all these features.
10. Muffler Feature
This safety feature works by directing dangerous exhaust fumes away from the breathing airways of the chainsaw operator. As expected it is one of the main safety features on a chainsaw that relies on petrol – in most cases this is a professional chainsaw. It is not applicable to cordless or electric chainsaws. Electric chainsaws would have their own cut out features but those are not covered within the scope of this article.
Irrespective of the number of chainsaw safety features you have or the level of advanced technology that has gone into the chainsaw you decide to buy, nothing beats good old common sense and staying out of harms way. Whenever you grab a chainsaw to use, think of what could go wrong and take the necessary precautions.