Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Katie Tuttle

Katie Tuttle, GCI


Stay safe

Online Extra

Manufacturers are constantly evolving when it comes to chainsaw safety.

September 30, 2014

With more technology available, chainsaw companies are continually coming up with more safety features to ensure your crew members are as safe as possible when out in the field.

User comfort sometimes leads to a safer environment, which is why both Husqvarna and STIHL offer features focused on reducing vibration. Higher vibration levels mean more work for the user, so minimizing those levels also cuts down on user fatigue. “Fatigue is the leading cause of injury,” says Gent Simmons, handheld product manager for Husqvarna.

Another feature Husqvarna has for safety is the Trio Brake. “The Trio Brake is an additional rear-handled chain braking system,” Simmons says. “By having that rear brake back there, it gives the extra guard in case of a slow kickback. It also encourages the operator to use the saw in the proper position. If you try to use it over your hand, your hands are in the position to engage the chain brake. You’re less likely to put yourself in an unsafe situation.”

Simmons says this is especially important for landscape professionals who aren’t using chainsaws every day. “One of our customers has a 90-day policy (with his crew members) where in the first 90 days you use the Trio Brake saw. It’s a great saw to learn on because it trains you to operate the saw and keeps you operating in the proper position.”

Extra safety.

Some of the safety features companies offer are standard, but some, such as the Trio Brake, are additional features. They’re not necessary, but they help make your crew members safer.

“It is important to factor in all of the chain saw features available on the market,” says John Foster, product compliance manager for STIHL.

“STIHL recommends consulting with a local servicing dealer who can offer advice based on the customer’s specific needs, rather than generalizations, to ensure that the right tools and accessories are selected.”

Although these safety features may cost more, in the long run Simmons says you’ll be saving money.

“The easier the products are to use, the more efficient the operators are, which is money in your pocket,” he says. “The less injuries you have, the lower your insurance rates will be. At the end of the day, every injury that occurs, from workman’s comp, downtime and insurance costs, it can hit you pretty hard.”

As technology continues to improve, more features for added safety may be created, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. “There are definitely things that you can do to a chainsaw to reduce the immediate risk in certain situations, but we have to make sure that that feature, whatever it might be, doesn’t create a new situation,” Simmons says.

For example, Husqvarna doesn’t put tip guards over the tip of the chain on their saws. The reasoning is that with the tip guards in place, the chainsaw can’t bore cut, which creates a situation where the operator ends up doing more cutting in the back of the tree, potentially causing the tree to release too early and the wood to split.

“We can shield things, we can put a lot of added stuff, but is that added stuff going to create even more issues?” Simmons says.

If the price of these extra features concerns you, don’t worry. Both companies make sure all their equipment is up to date in regards to safety. The extra features are just that -- extra. They’re not necessary, but can be a big help to users who aren’t 100 percent comfortable around chainsaws every day.

“Our products are built from high quality components, and we don’t compromise on that quality for cost,” Foster says.

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