Professional chainsaw users know just how dangerous these valuable tools can be. Unfortunately too many professionals have learned the hard way that any time you are close to a chainsaw you are at risk of injury. The typical chainsaw combines the brute strength of 3 horses with seventy five razor sharp knives. All this dangerous potential is literally in your hands when you pick up a chainsaw. Before you pick up a chainsaw you should make sure you have the right saw for the job.
First if your chainsaw is older it may lack any of the modern safety features like inertia chain breaks, hand guards and a host of other improvements. Drain the fuel and oil and donate it to your local museum. NEVER use older style chainsaws.
Home owner saws that you buy from the local mega mart may no meet the strict safety standards required by professional users. Why should you put yourself at risk?
A common and potentially deadly event when using a chainsaw is kickback, Kickback occurs when the upper portion of the tip of the chainsaw comes in contact with an object. The teeth on the tip of the bar stop abruptly and direct all of their energy back into the chainsaw. This results in it rapidly and uncontrollably spinning in an upward arc towards the user. Modern chainsaws have safety features like inertia chain breaks, to reduce the chance of injury from kickback.
Professional chainsaws come in two basic styles and a myriad of sizes. Saws are broken down into top handle and rear handle styles. As the name suggests top handle saws have the rear handle moved to the top of the saw to allow easier range of motion while climbing in the tree with the saw. If you are not climbing in the tree do not use this saw.
Even if you have come down from the tree, switch to a rear handle saw to cut up branches on the ground.
Rear handle saws, with their trigger handle in a much safer position at the rear of the saw, direct kick back energy up and away from the user. When kick back occurs a top handle saw will rotate your wrist and hit you in the head or chest. The operative work is WHEN kick back occurs, not IF.
The largest chainsaw available may be good for your ego but it will not be good for your safety in the long run. A small to mid sized professional chainsaw will provide years of trouble free safer operation. If you really think about what you are cutting a small sharp chainsaw with a 15 to 17 inch bar will do 99% of your work. Typically these saws are in the 50 to 60cc size range. Most users should not use a top handle saw.
A chainsaw safety training class should be mandatory for chainsaw purchase. I doubt it ever will be mandatory for the home owner. Industry has been forced to provide training through legislation and increasing workers compensation costs. If you use a chainsaw you should make it your mission to get at least the basic safety training. Your life literally depends upon it.