Mill Site Chainsaw Safety
A growing area for Forest Applications Training is our MSCS Program. Since the rise of OSHA awareness in the use of the chainsaw at all worksites, mills and woodyards across the USA are looking to improve training of their saw handling employees. The MSCS program is directed at these employees.
Forest Applications Training, Inc. , P.O. Box 429, Rome, GA 30162
Ph. 770-543-9862 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mill Site Chainsaw Safety Topical Outline:
Personal Protection Equipment Requirements
8. Good fitting work gloves or saw mittens.
Springs and Jams
One day training program 8:00am - 4:15pm for full class. Six hour class time
The class should consist of 12 persons or less per instructor. The training will be
hands-on, so the participants need to have eye and ear protection and leg protection to be
passed through the group.
We would like to have a chainsaw per every two participants for the maintenance.
They could bring their own personal saws for this if more saws are needed. They should
bring correct saw file and bar wrench tool for the saw. These tools can be supplied but an
accurate equipment list must be provided.
Classroom or shop area is needed for one to two hours of the program if weather is
The following materials are needed for the training:
2ea 10' x 16" log (clean if possible) (any species)
1ea per participant 4' x 16"-20" (any species)
1ea per participant gum, hickory or other bend-able saplings.
(3"-4" at base 25' tall/long [ this is not mandatory but better
illustrates pressures] )
All wood should be not be dried. As "green" as possible.
Training is performed in the unique CRT format. Competition achieves results in the
training. Points are applied to areas of safety and skill to make the training process
measurable as well as enjoyable for the participants. Small award prizes are given to
Please also remember that training to prevent accidents on the job also works to reduce accidents off the job. Firewood, storm damage, and chain saw use off the job cost the company time and money in downtime and sometimes insurance costs. Training pays in many ways!
The following is for your improved understanding of the training materials covered.
Helmets are necessary equipment when working in the forest, or when trees, construction, etc., are overhead.
Eye glasses and face screens are a necessity when working with chain saws and other forest equipment.
Safety glasses should comply with the ANSI Z.87.1 1979 standards for eye protection. Face screens should not replace safety glasses. OSHA does recognize the face screen as adequate for most saw operations. Face screens are designed to deflect or stop small particles such as wood chips from the face. These screens can assist the glasses or goggles in protecting the eyes, but they are not designed for projectile eye protection.
Hearing damage caused by exposure to loud continuous noises can be reduced with the use of hearing protection. Working around chain saws and other forest related equipment can be harmful to your hearing. Authorities say noises louder than 85 dbA can over an extended time cause permanent hearing loss. Remember, any hearing loss is permanent.
Warning: Chain saws, skidders and loaders are noisy. The best way to limit the noise is by reducing the volume at the ear.
Hearing protection should comply with the ANSI S3. 19-1974 standards. You should look for another rating to match your noise conditions also. For most saw operations an NRR. Rating, (Noise Reduction Rating) factor should be a minimum of 22dB. The higher the rating, the more noise is limited from your ear.
There are many types of hearing protection available. Check for the NRR before you choose a product because of price.
Other than price the factors are:
Without question, the most frequent chain saw accidents involve the legs. The severity of many of these accidents could be reduced if the chain saw operator would wear leg protection.
The purpose of leg protection is not to be cut-proof! Leg protection is only designed to lessen the severity of an accident should it occur.
The materials used in leg protection garments vary by manufacturer. Two most used and well-known materials are Dupont Kevlar and the Nylons of Engtex. Both materials perform in providing ample protection if they are of sufficient layers, and are sewn into the garments properly.
The major difference between the two materials is the washing and drying requirements. Make sure your protective garment, as with any equipment, is easily maintained. This is very important. In the case of protective clothing, you must be able to wash and dry the material easily to retain the protection built into the garment. A soiled material reduces the amount of protection. Check the washing and care instructions before you purchase leg protection for your use. Look for something that is easily cleaned and dried.
Chaps are the most widely used form of leg protection. Chaps are offered in many styles and materials from thin nylon, to blue cotton denim, to very abrasion resistant Dupont Cordura. Most chap designs have buckle snaps in the rear of the legs and a buckle snap on the waist strap. All of these straps are usually adjustable to assure a comfortable fit. It is important that the straps be pulled tight to insure the leg cover doesn't twist when coming in contact with a turning saw chain. Chap designs also have become available in full wrap around versions. These wrap versions offer more leg area covering in areas where some accidents occur, the calf area of the leg. These full wrap versions should be considered in your purchase.
Many people purchase chaps with the idea of getting low cost leg protection, later finding that leggings or pants are more comfortable and easier to care for, especially in professional applications.
Leggings offer removable protection with coverage areas much like pants. A legging style usually looks much like a pant's leg that has been cut off at the crotch area. The leggings are then pulled over the leg. The top of the legging usually has a strap or VELCRO flap to adjust the length and fit of the legging. A zipper is usually placed in the inside area of the leg to aid in removal and installing the leggings over your boots and existing pants. These are usually a little more comfortable than the strap style chaps because of the fit behind the legs. There is less chance of hang-up in brush, etc.
Pants are recognized by professionals as the most desirable form of leg protection. The pants offer a cooler and more comfortable working environment than that of pull over or strap on protection. The pants are usually a little easier to maintain and generally last longer than other types. When choosing protective pants look for sewn in protection. Inserts tend to pull out or bunch up during use and are generally rough on your exposed skin.
Foot protection is usually considered at the bottom of the personal equipment list. Many people overlook the need for proper foot wear, protection, and support when working with the chain saw. When working around moving objects or lifting objects in our work tasks, it is important to cover and support our feet and ankles when possible. There are three areas to consider when purchasing foot protection. The first is quality material suitable for your job conditions. Second is the support and protection they give. Third, is good traction.
Quality boots will last and provide comfort regardless of your work conditions.
Leather in dry weather is superior, and even damp conditions support the light weight and comfort of leather. When the conditions become wet, it is necessary to choose a waterproof boot, such as one of heavy duty rubber with adequate support for the ankle area. When the conditions are cold and wet a good insulation is a necessity. Check all combinations available from sources. Don't try to meet all the element needs with one pair of boots. Take into consideration drying time. A spare set of boots will extend the life of your footwear and make your feet more appreciative.
Hand Guard / Chain Brake
Chainsaws should be equipped with a hand guard and chain brake for all mill operations. The chain brake can be used as a parking brake when starting and moving with the saw between cutting positions. This offers increased security from personal injury. The chain brake can assist in reducing injury from kicks and pushes by stopping the chain rotation when activated by hand or inertia.
Throttle Trigger Lockout
The trigger lockout is a system to assure the operator's right hand is in the throttle use position before the saw can be accelerated. A stick or limb cannot enter the trigger area and accelerate the saw unknowingly.
The chain catcher is designed of a soft material such as aluminum or
nylon to resist saw chain tooth damage and still collect the chain in the front of the saw
crankcase should it break or derail. This catcher helps to eliminate injury by shortening
the derailed or broken chain, keeping it from contacting the operator.
The stop switch should be operative and should be found within "thumbs reach" of the operators hand.
The choke lever assembly should be operable. Application of the choke mechanism should be simple and used when the engine is cold only. A warm or up to operating temperature engine should not require choking.
The width, length and height of the chainsaw power head should be
considered for proper task application. An awkward design can sometimes increase fatigue
and thus effect safety.
The chainsaw should be equipped with a sprocket nose type guide bar with a small reduced kick-back end radius. Bow guide bars are not suited for conveyor and yard applications and increase the risk of reactive forces possibly causing injury. Bar lengths for specific tasks are important and should be matched to the power of the chainsaw.
Saw Chain Selection
The most important part of any chainsaw is the saw chain and its maintenance. The proper chain should be mounted and used as recommended by the chainsaw manufacturer. Saw chain meeting ANSI low-kickback requirements should be used whenever possible in conveyor jam and mill site applications but should not replace proper training of the reactive forces and the selection of planned technique for the task.
There are three reactive forces that should be understood before one attempts to operate a chain saw.
Push Back occurs when the chain, turning under power, becomes bound on the upper side of the cutting guide bar. This can also be caused by the chain coming in contact with a solid item or wood when cutting with the top of the bar. When this occurs the saw and guide bar are thrust backward possibly coming in contact with the operator. This reaction can happen in conjunction with kick-back causing a backward and upward thrust of the saw.
Kick back occurs when the rotating saw chain comes in contact with a solid object, or the chain is pinched in a cut, in the upper 50% of the saw bar tip. This can be a very violent action.
This is the third and most overlooked area of reactive forces. When cutting normally with the lower side of the guide bar, with the pulling chain, the operator can find him or herself off balance very quickly. It is important to be in a good stance with feet apart and equal weight balanced to insure you will not be pulled forward into the work. If the saw becomes bound while cutting in the pulling condition, the saw could be pulled forward very rapidly causing the operator to lose control or fall over the saw. It could also happen that the bar tip is pulled through the wood, exposing the tip and hitting another object. That causes a combination kick-back.
The system we use is the "RDT" system. The letters stand for Reduced Down Time. A repair is not the largest expense of a failure. It's the downtime that costs, when an accident occurs or production is being lost. "RDT" is the overall goal of any preventative maintenance program. Safety is directly related to the proper upkeep and service of the chainsaw. A chainsaw not cutting or performing correctly means pressures must be applied by the operator which increase a major cause of injury, fatigue.
The place to start on setting up any system is to do a quick study of the situation. Some of the areas to observe are:
This information can be compiled to help you understand when and why preventative maintenance needs to be performed. I would suggest that a systematic cleanup and checkup be performed on the units. This starts with a daily inspection.
It has proven to be most effective to rotate items such as saw chain loops, guide bars, and air filters. The initial cost of stocking (putting into your running stock) these items is far out weighed by the overall savings.
Here is a list of information about the saw and the operation of it that should be reviewed often. It is important the operator be aware of himself and his saw at all times.
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