When it comes to operating a chainsaw, safety should be your top priority. Skipping on it is a big no-no. According to the CDC, on average, 36,000 people fall victim to chainsaw injuries yearly. This shows cutting tools are unpredictable, and you never know what can happen.
Therefore, you need to be prepared, and that means protecting your hearing, hands, legs, and feet from potential injuries. Lucky for you, we’re here to break it all down for you. In this article, I’ll delve into each piece of must-wear safety equipment.
You’ll also learn the international standards they must comply with, so you can rest easy knowing they’re tested and safe for use.
What Safety Equipment Should Be Worn When Operating a Chainsaw?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all chainsaw operators should wear a hard hat, visor, goggles, hearing protection, and gloves. They should also wear chainsaw safety gear like protective trousers and jackets, chaps, and steel-toe boots.
Here’s why you need each chainsaw PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) item:
When using a beastly machine like a chainsaw, wearing a hard hat is a must. It’s all about keeping your head safe from accidental falls if you’re climbing a tree for cutting purposes. A hard hat also prevents injuries from potential chainsaw kickbacks and flying debris like branches and twigs while cutting.
So, grab an approved helmet, preferably an ANSI Z89.1-2014 compliant hard hat with side protection and a chin strap to stay put. Moreover, a hard hat with a visor for eye protection would be great.
But keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear and replace the visor every 2-3 years because the UV light can weaken the plastic. And if your hard hat starts emitting crackling noises when you squeeze it, it’s time to trade it in for a new one.
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Eye Shield and Goggles
If you’re using a hard hat with no visor, you must use a separate visor/eye shield or goggles. The eye protection you should wear depends upon your environment, but it would be best to use both as goggles offer additional protection.
While the visor protects against harsh sunlight, the goggles shield your eyes against flying wood chips from the chainsaw.
You must get eyewear with side protection that complies with the ANSI Z87.1-2010 or later. Safety equipment that uses this standard undergoes rigorous testing before being available in the market.
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Chainsaws are crazy loud, especially the ones with gasoline power. Some even come with whopping 110-120 dB noise levels. Just think about it, our human ears can start getting damaged at 80 dB of noise.
But if you’re exposed to 115 dB, you can kiss your hearing goodbye instantly. That’s why it’s crucial to protect your ears.
Make sure you wear some proper ear protection that can bring down the noise. According to OSHA, your hearing protection should be good enough to reduce noise exposure below 90 dB. But some experts say it’s even better if the ear protection can keep the noise level below 85 dB.
According to the official standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), earmuffs need to meet the ANSI/ASA S12.6-2016 standard. This standard states that earmuffs must have a minimum Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22 dB.
So, if your chainsaw emits noise at 110 dB, grab a pair of earmuffs that can provide a 25 dB or 30 dB attenuation level. That way, you can reduce the noise to a safe level of 85 dB or lower. You can also explore some latest ways to make your chainsaw as quiet as possible.
Furthermore, get yourself the best hearing protection for chainsaw use!Recommended by Patrick McMann
While dealing with a cutting machine, you must have chainsaw chaps on top of your protective pants to save your legs from getting deep cuts. When it comes to choosing the right trousers for the job, you have two main types: Type A and Type C. But both should comply with the ANSI Z133.1-2020 standard.
Type A protects the front of your legs and can be worn as chaps over regular work clothes or as regular trousers. Type C, on the other hand, offers all-around leg protection and is usually worn as standalone trousers, not over anything else.
This type of chainsaw chaps is ideal for wearing by arborists and loggers when they are cutting in tight spaces. Generally, the outer layer of chainsaw chaps is tough and slippery, designed to take the brunt of minor damage and shield the inner layers. Underneath, you got polyester, Avertic ballistic nylon, or Kevlar layered up.
When your cutting tool makes contact with the trousers, the outer layer gets cut through right away. But the inner layer gets pulled out and wraps around the saw’s drive sprocket, locking it in place and stopping the chain. This minimizes the damage to your leg. Learn more about how do chainsaw chaps work here!
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When picking a protective jacket for your chainsaw adventures, make sure you find one that meets EN-381-11. This standard means the jacket is durable and can shield you from cuts to your torso and arms caused by the chainsaw.
Don’t forget to grab yourself a pair of safety gloves for handling a chainsaw. Look for safety mitts with an ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 and performance level rating of PL0-PL6. PL 0 represents the lowest level of protection, while PL 6 signifies the highest.
These ratings mean the gloves have been tested for their resistance to cuts, abrasions, punctures, and heat. Apart from the ANSI standard, there are a few other things to consider when choosing chainsaw gloves. You want them to fit just right – snug but not too tight so you can move your fingers freely and comfortably.
Cutting tool gloves come with special cut-proof fabric protection, similar to what you find in protective trousers. They even have reinforced ballistic nylon on the back. But only on the back of the left hand, as most chainsaw hand injuries happen to the back of the left hand.
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Steel Toe Boots
If you’re operating a chainsaw, remember to wear steel-toe boots with special layers of protective fabric on the front surfaces. They are designed to shield you from cuts, not just from the front but also from the sides.
Regarding standards, the ANSI-approved standard for chainsaw boots is the ASTM F2413-18. This standard includes resistance to impact and compression, metatarsal protection, and electrical hazard protection.
Plus, they’re great for preventing foot injuries caused by heavy debris falling on your feet. It’s also a good idea to go for boots with rubber soles for those wet and snowy conditions. And if you’re working on uneven ground, consider boots with cork soles for an extra grip.
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Additional Safety Equipment for Chainsaw Users
Besides the must-have safety equipment mentioned earlier, there are a few other items that can come in handy depending on your chainsaw operation:
High Visibility Vest
Wearing a high-visibility vest that complies with ANSI/ISEA 207-2011 is a good move, especially when working in low-light or dark conditions. The bright colors and reflective materials on the vest make you stand out, so others can easily spot you.
This is super important, especially if you’re working in places with traffic, like construction sites or near roads.
Remember to gear up with some fall protection if you will be working at heights.
Dust Mask or Respirator
When dealing with a dusty environment, it’s important to keep your lungs protected. Pop on a dust mask or respirator to keep that air clean and your breathing in check.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the OSHA requirements for chainsaw safety equipment?
OSHA requires chainsaw operators to wear the following safety gear:
- Earplugs or earmuffs to reduce noise below 85 decibels.
- Shatterproof goggles with side shields.
- An ANSI-approved hard hat.
- Chainsaw chaps to protect against cuts.
- Steel-toe boots to protect feet from cuts and other hazards.
- Vibration-reducing gloves to protect hands from scratches.
Are chainsaw chaps necessary for safe chainsaw operation?
Yes, chainsaw chaps are considered necessary for safe chainsaw operation. They are designed to protect the legs in case of accidental contact with the cutting tool chain. Moreover, they are typically made with cut-resistant materials to reduce the severity of injuries caused by chainsaw cuts.
What safety equipment should be worn when operating a chainsaw in a forest?
When operating a chainsaw in a forest, it’s crucial to wear the appropriate safety equipment to minimize risks. Start by wearing a hard hat to safeguard your head from falling branches or objects and earplugs to shield your ears from the noise.
Furthermore, protect your eyes with safety goggles with side shields to prevent any debris from getting into your eyes. Lastly, ensure you have leg protection with chainsaw chaps to reduce the chances of severe cuts or injuries.
What safety equipment should be worn when operating a chainsaw is not just a question—it’s a must-know for every responsible chainsaw user. Operating a cutting machine without the proper safety equipment is a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, adhere to ANSI standards and choose equipment that meets these safety requirements. This will ensure you’re well-prepared and protected while working with a cutting tool. Stay safe!
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