Chain Saw Chaps Prevent Leg Injury
On a warm spring weekend in the Appalachians, a forester was using a chain saw to thin out some of the trees in a stand that had regenerated naturally approximately 30 years ago.
The forester was in his mid-forties and had completed and taught basic chain saw safety training classes. On this day, he and another individual were working on their own property, cutting down unwanted hardwoods and pines that were competing with the more desirable oaks in the stand. The forester was wearing all personal protective equipment, including chain saw chaps.
The forester had been working for a long time without taking a break and was tired. After felling a tree, he began walking toward the next tree to cut. He did not apply the chain brake. The chain on his saw was still running but slowing down as he stepped over the branch of a felled tree.
As he stepped over the branch, his saw bar dropped downward, and the still-moving chain tore into the chaps covering his left inner thigh. The forester saw the moving chain choking up and spewing out the protective material inside the chaps.
The chaps prevented the saw from cutting into his leg. There was no injury.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
- Always inspect chain saws before use to ensure all safety features, including the chain brake, are functioning correctly.
- OSHA regulations state that the chain saw shall be shut down, or the chain brake shall be engaged whenever a saw is carried further than 50 feet—or less than 50 feet if conditions such as terrain, underbrush, or slippery surfaces may create a hazard for an employee. It is a good practice to engage the chain brake whenever walking with the saw, or one hand is off the saw when the motor is running.
- When operating a chain saw, wear all recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), including head, ear, eye, foot, leg, and hand protection, and hi-vis clothing. Wear ASTM/UL labeled chain saw chaps or protective pants that provide cut-resistant protection down to the boot-top level and back-of-lower-leg wraparound protection. Failing to use all PPE—the last line of defense against an injury—even once could have disastrous consequences.
- Work at a comfortable, steady pace, and rest and drink plenty of fluids as needed. Many injuries happen when a person is in a hurry or tired.