Chainsaw Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Selecting the right PPE equipment to help minimize the risk of injuries while operating a Chainsaw can be a little bit tricky. This is especially true if you haven’t had the need to use this type of handheld powered equipment until now. The reality is that you are legally responsible for your own safety and indeed that of your coworkers, if you are an employer as well as other members of the public.
What does PPE stand for? Well the term PPE is used as an acronym that stands for Personal Protective Equipment. This is a coverall description however in a chainsaw context it covers the safety wear and safety equipment that reduces and prevents injury to humans while carrying out tasks relating to chainsaw use or where a certain level of risk is involved.
The most important thing to be aware of is that PPE equipment isn’t like a superhero’s cape. It’s not a case of when you put the safety wear on you are now cloaked in some suit of invincibility!
Remember one falling branch, one slip of the chainsaw or even one flying woodchip or splinter can have life changing consequences in a split second.
With ppe equipment it’s more of a case that if there is a likelihood of an injury occurring while you are operating a chainsaw, you will at least reduce the impact of many hazards by using the correct PPE Equipment.
It doesn’t matter how much effort the manufacturing company puts into ensuring that a chainsaw is safe to operate straight out of the box, there is a responsibility on the user’s behalf to educate themselves on the safe and secure operation of such a useful yet powerful machine.
Many modern chainsaws include certain safety features to reduce any adverse events while in use, but the reality of the matter is that no one will be there to protect your lungs, your ears, your hands your eyes from damages caused by the operation of these machines. It is up to you to ensure that you are equipped for the task.
The other thing that people don’t realize is that no matter how many precautions we take and even how many measures include to reduce or even completely eliminate hazards, there is still a chance we will still get hurt. The best we can hope for is to reduce the risk as close to zero as possible.
Some hazards will always remain regardless of the precautions taken, and so it is up to you to ensure they are either reduced or eliminated as much as possible. Some of the hazards involved in chainsaw use which can impact the body in different ways include;
- The lungs which can be damaged from the fumes and the dust you breathe while the chainsaw is in operation.
- The Head and the body are also under risk of injuries from falling trees and branches. Even low hanging branches can pose a risk of impact while walking around.
- The eyes can be damaged by flying particles or even the splashes of corrosive fluids.
- The skin is also at risk of splashing by chemicals and corrosive fluids
- The body-it can get hurt by the extreme heat or extreme cold from the environment and indeed the heat the saw emits while in operation.
The Importance of PPE
According to Safe Work Australia, Personal Protective Equipment refers to anything that can be worn or used to reduce the risk of harm in the work place. The many various types of PPE equipment available play a significant role in reducing the likelihood of getting your eyes, ears, skin, body, hands, lungs and any other part of your body from getting hurt.
They are responsible for eliminating health risks in the work place and ensure that the workplace is safer and healthier to work in. Using correct PPE will help you to avoid any long term health issues while using a Chainsaw.
The other role that PPE plays is that it will reduce the costs associated with healthcare, in the unfortunate case where you need to avail of it. The saying often goes you can put a price on health. Well yes that’s absolutely right in one context where having the use of your full faculties both mentally and physically is priceless however if you do need emergency medical attention expect to fork out a pretty penny financially as well as suffer the associated pain that goes with many injuries.
Although PPE is considered an added expense at the time of purchase when buying a chainsaw or other power tool. It will almost certainly cover itself somewhere down the line by preventing eye injury, cuts and other impact injuries that much is true and undeniable.
It’s amazing to think some people will choose to avoid a small outlay initially on essential PPE equipment while risking emergency medical bills that can run into multiples of the cost of the equipment in the first place.
There is no doubt that if you choose to ignore PPE equipment then medical bills will be an additional operation cost somewhere down the line, which will in one way or another impact your financial pool.
PPE equipment exists to safeguard the wellbeing of the worker. That might be you, your professional gardener or even those whom you are working with.
What Personal Protective Equipment is Available for Chainsaw Users?
It is common knowledge that you are recommended to use safety clothing and PPE equipment that is most appropriate for the task that you are performing in order to reduce the risk of injury. The clothing should be suitably fitted and specifically for the task in hand, and prevent entanglement with the chainsaw. The PPE Equipment and clothing listed below are highly recommended for you when operating a chainsaw.
We all know that operating a chainsaw can be a dangerous task. In reference to the sharp, heavy and dangerous equipment being used in this operation. Ideally you should have high quality trousers or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads. You should choose trousers that protect up to the belt line. These are the most preferred because they offer more protection than those that stop at the upper thigh.
The professionals working in the tree industries and even those using chainsaws for home gardening needs are required by professionals to wear the appropriate safety clothing which includes trousers and a range of other accessories. They are also required to wear appropriate leg protection while using chainsaws.
The reality of the matter is that you should also consider the appropriate leg protection while using chainsaws. There are two types of trousers that you can use to protect your legs-Type A and Type C chainsaw Protective Trousers.
Type A Protective Trousers only protect the front side of the leg and not the back side of it. It has a protective sheath in that area only. The good thing is that you can either wear them over your work clothes or as standard trousers. They are especially important for chainsaw users that are doing ground work such as Logging wood. You can also use this type of trousers if you are working on level ground alone.
The main reason why people prefer Type A leg protection trousers is because they are lighter than Type C and they can be worn over conventional work clothes. They are also cheaper than Type C trousers and are ideal for a professional grounds man.
The only drawbacks are the fact that they only protect the front side of the leg and are only recommended for someone working on ground level and not climbing trees. They are a perfect option for the hobby gardener, farmer and beginner alike.
Type C leg Protection Trousers provide security for the entire leg and are more suited to professionals involved in the tree cutting world. They are worn as regular trousers and they cannot be worn over conventional work clothes. They are better than Type A trousers because they offer a significant amount of protection. They will protect you when you are climbing trees and while operating the chainsaw at some awkward angles.
These trousers are in most cases worn by Professionals such as Arborists who deal with heavy duty equipment and work at heights. Their pros are many compared to Type A trousers. They offer all round leg protection, and they are ideal for climbing trees and operating on heavy duty tasks, and they are more expensive than type A trousers.
Eye Protection PPE
Working with chainsaws can be risky and it can hurt your eyes. There are several health and risk management organizations that require the use of both eye and facial protection. OSHA requires that where there is Sawdust, flying particles and chips posing health hazard to the operator the employee, the employer-in simple terms the operator should have high quality face protection guards.
There are several options out there that offer face and eye protection when operating a chainsaw. They include:
These are extremely helpful in protecting your eyes from flying particles such as sawdust. They ensure that even if a tiny stray particle is projected towards your eyes, it will be blocked from hitting your eyes. Cheaper goggles do have the tendency to fog up so you are best to select a goggle that offers you good eye protection and ventilation characteristics.
Eye Protection Mesh Visor
This type of equipment offers similar protection like the Goggles. An eye protection mesh protects your eyes from flying particles, saw dust and chips when you are operating the chainsaw. However, these eye protection gadgets can be a source of risk too. When you are selecting an Eye Protection Mesh Visor, ensure you select the one that cannot affect your field of vision. What this means is that you should use the clearest mesh possible. This is important for improved visibility.
These are worn together with headgear and will especially protect the operator from the hazards caused by the cutter bar in case of a kickback. In case the chain nose hits a hard object, it is likely to kickback and it can hurt you. They generally utilize a clear plastic screen that flips up and down and is placed out from the head so offers good ventilation much like the mesh visor. The face shield is a completely enclosed sheet so even the smallest particle will not pass through.
One thing that people don’t understand is that hand protection is equally important when operating a chainsaw. Failing to wear chaps and gloves and several other hand protective gear when operating a chainsaw is not only unsafe but can also be a fatal mistake. It goes without explanation that when operating a chainsaw, you should protect your hands against injuries too. Gloves provide adequate grip and vibration dampening properties essential when operating a chainsaw. Gloves also give the user confidence that they are in control of the saw instead of the other way around.
Gloves & Mitts
Chainsaw gloves should be strong and durable. They will help to protect your hands against any high-speed moving particle which could otherwise harm your hands. You should consider leather gloves which are naturally tear-resistant and suitable for heavy duty tasks. Leather gloves offer more protection and they also maintain a high level of grip in wet conditions to reduce the chances of accidents.
Gloves should be the last accessory to put on your hands before firing up your chainsaw. Also look for anti-vibration gloves because they are ideal for long time operations. They reduce the chances of an accident occurring substantially. There are several brands out there that you can choose from.
Some of them include: Youngstown Chainsaw Gloves which are designed to protect you in case of an accident and also give you a tight contact with the handle to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Husqvarna Functional Chainsaw Protection Gloves-They are lightweight and also offer the same protection as those other gloves out there. They are comfortable to wear and at the same time offer protection from vibration, moving particles and offer maximum protection against kickbacks.
Head Protection PPE
According to OSHA, 243 workers died in 2012 while engaging in unsafe tree-trimming in the US alone. The statistics also revealed that some of the incidences would have been reduced if the specific operators had used safety PPE. The main cause for their deaths was head injuries and spinal injuries.
Just like an egg, your brain is Fragile and it can be destroyed by even the slightest impact of moving/ falling tree limb or branch. Head Injuries is and will still remain the leading cause of deaths especially for the chainsaw operators. It is also the main cause of fatal injuries during a tree-trimming process.
Head Protection is vitally important because it protects the head from impact injury and also protects the scalp and the jaws. The protective role that head PPE provides can sometimes be underestimated but it is a crucial part for a chainsaw operator. Some of the most common head protection PPE includes:
These offer protection to the head against chainsaw kickback and other head related impact injuries. They offer maximum protection against falling objects. Helmets also provide protection against eye and injuries to the face. These are the dangers that a chainsaw itself poses that people usually underestimate.
Ear Protection PPE
If you are a forester or just a home gardener, then you may be aware that long exposure to high noise levels can be risky to your ears and damage your hearing irreparably. According to research a gasoline powered chainsaw is the loudest small engine machine available. What this means is that if you are operating a gas powered chainsaw, you should at all cost avoid using it without appropriate ear protection PPE.
Before selecting the best ear protection PPE to use for your gardening needs, you first of all need to determine your noise levels. In some of the machines, you can find the dB level in the user manual, or marked on some newer machines. The best ear protections are the ones that you can wear all the time when you are working under loud noise.
There are hundreds of different styles of these devices. What this means is that you should look for the one you are comfortable with. Some of the best ear protections PPEs include:
- Ear-plugs which are inserted in the ear canal.
- Semi-insert ear plugs-they consist of two ear plugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a headband.
- Ear Muffs which consists of sound material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear.
Foot protection PPE
If you operate a chainsaw, then ensure you also protect your feet from falling trees, logs and branches. In addition, ensure that you are not working alone. The other thing is that you should never operate a chainsaw if you are standing on a ladder. Wear approved chainsaw footwear while operating the machine to protect your ankles, toes and soles. You can wear caulked safety boots when operating chainsaws or even choose from several other types of footwear including steel toe capped boots that will also provide ankle protection to protect you from injuries while walking on logs, pilings, poles and other round timbers. There are several caulked safety boots that can protect you from the impact of a falling or a moving log.
To Wrap Up
In conclusion, use a fall protection system when operating at heights over 3m or 10ft above ground level, we will cover the best solutions and options for cutting tall branches in another post.
Hopefully this article will serve to make you aware of the basic safety PPE equipment you should use while using a rechargeable chainsaw or indeed any type of chainsaw for that matter.
Using the PPE equipment outlined above will greatly lessen the risks involved in using a rechargeable chainsaw. Remember it’s not about being over cautious when using a chainsaw it’s about having a certain level of assuredness that you are adequately prepared and that any risk has been minimized through careful consideration and planning.
Remember the phrase it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Well don’t be that person! Take the time to ensure you are fully protected each and every time you use a chainsaw!
We hope you found this article useful! If you did please let us know in our blog section. Also if you have any questions or indeed any questions please feel free to drop us a line and let us know!
Thanks Folks and Happy Cutting!