Chainsaws are potentially dangerous machines which can cause fatal or major injuries if not used correctly.

It is essential that anyone who uses a chainsaw at work should have received adequate training and be competent in using a chainsaw for the type of work that they are required to do.There are many training providers throughout the country. Teagasc have a brief overview at https://www.teagasc.ie/news–events/daily/forestry/are-you-competent-to-operate-a-chainsaw-safely.php

You don’t need to be certified to use a chainsaw in your garden but there’s a lot you can learn from the professionals. Several people are killed and many are seriously injured each year while pruning trees and cutting logs. Some of these are domestic users, though many are landscaping professionals who have received training.

Battery-powered chainsaws and their petrol counterparts are powerful and effective tools but they can be dangerous if not used in the correct way. Here’s an overview of safety considerations that will help you prepare to operate your chainsaw the way the professionals do and minimising injury.

  • Making sure you’re physically fit and mentally alert enough to operate a chainsaw

  • Buying low noise, low vibration tools (cordless chainsaws easily meet this criteria)

  • Maintaining your chainsaw for safe and optimal performance

  • Using appropriate protective clothing including for eyes, ears and limbs

  • Assuming a balanced and comfortable position for cutting and using both hands

  • Risk assessing overhead power lines, public rights of way and other environmental features

  • Only using chainsaws from a ladder if you’ve received training – use a cordless pole saw instead

  • Transport your tool safely so it doesn’t get damaged or harm anyone in transit – our chainsaw bag has an oil tray and scabbard for safe transportation.


A common cause of injury is known as kickback, where the chainsaw nose comes into contact with an object. Kickback is “the sudden uncontrolled upward and backward movement of the chain and guide bar towards the operator” (HSE).

Kickback can be avoided by:

  • Maintaining the chain brake

  • Keeping the nose of the guide bar away from obstructions

  • Not over-reaching

  • Keeping the saw below chest height

  • Correct hand position

  • Appropriate chain speed

  • A chainsaw fitted with kickback protection

Protective Clothing and Equipment

It’s advisable to wear some degree of protection when you’re using a chainsaw, even for jobs that you think will be quick. Choose protective clothing of a high standard. Your other clothing should be close-fitting so it doesn’t get in the way.

  • Ear defenders – the professional standard is EN 352-1. We recommend these even if you’re using an EGO low-noise battery-powered chainsaw.

  • Eye protection – either a mesh visor (EN 1731) or safety glasses (EN 166).

  • Gloves that will protect you from cuts from splinters and thorns. Professional standard chainsaw gloves are EN 381-7.

  • Leg protection (EN 381-5).

  • Feet and ankle protection – gaiters with steel-toe-capped safety boots.

Arbourists might also use a battery Backpack Harness to power their cordless chainsaw. This balances the weight of the battery, making the chainsaw itself lighter and easier to handle.

Remember that even if the job is a quick one and you feel confident that it will be easy, make sure you’re fully prepared, protected and have completed a risk assessment before you start.

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