Safety Bulletins

Avoiding Kickback Hazards!

“Kickback is a potential danger whenever you use a chainsaw. You need to know why it occurs and how to reduce it - WorkSafe NZ

Kickback occurs when the upper part of the bar tip (the kickback danger zone -  see images) contacts a solid object or is pinched. This causes a reactive force that may throw the guide bar in an uncontrolled arc towards you, causing injury.

To the chainsaw operator, the rule about not using the kickback danger zone is like the rule that says not to point a gun at someone. If you do, and it goes off, the results will be dire!

How to Reduce Kickback - Operating Techniques:

Using proper operating techniques will invariably reduce the likelihood of kickback!

Irrespective of how experienced we are, there are a few well-known techniques and practices that we should always follow and respect:

  1. Always hold the chainsaw firmly with both hands.
  2. Ensure your thumb is wrapped firmly under the front handle and in the mitt if fitted.
  3. Be vigilant and always aware of the location of the guide bar tip.
  4. Refrain from using the guide bar tip don't allow it to make contact with any objects.
  5. Be especially careful when cutting lighter limbs that can flex and/or catch the chain.
  6. Do not over-reach or cut above shoulder height, this substantially reduces control!
  7. Always use extreme caution when re-entering cuts.
  8. Maintain your chainsaw - importantly the chain brake and other safety devices.
  9. Make sure that the side-cover bolt is secure and that the nut is properly tightened.
  10. Use a guide bar that is the correct length.
  11. Keep the chain sharp and set the depth gauges by using the correct gauge.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 103