Autumn is here and the winter is coming. After the hunting season, many forest owners go to the forest to cut their wood, either firewood for themselves or saw logs and pulpwood to sell. If you are not a full-time logger, it could be easy to forget some details. So, let us remind you.
Logging season is coming – get ready!
Working with a chainsaw could be dangerous, even lethal, so it´s important to have the right equipment and clothing. Normally your chainsaw dealer knows exactly what you need, and if the dealer represents any of the known chainsaw brands, like Stihl and Husqvarna (Husky), he will for sure have the right equipment for you. But never forget that you yourself always are responsible for your own safety.
Make sure that you are fit for the job before you start your chainsaw. You shouldn´t be under influence of alcohol or any kind of drugs and medication. If you are not feeling well or if you are tired for some reason, you should not work with a chainsaw.
The chainsaw has to have some safety items.
Front handguard and chain brake
The front handguard is to protect your hand from slipping down on the chain. This handguard is also connected to the chain brake, so if you slip with the hand, the chain will stop running. The chain brake should activate if you get a kickback. You can check if the kickback function is ok by holding the saw approx. 0,5 meters above a stump or a log with both handles and let go of the front handle so that the tip of the saw bar hits the stump (or log). Then the brake should activate.
Throttle trigger lockout
Placed on top of the rear handle and designed to prevent accidental operation of the throttle.
Rear hand guard
The lower part of the rear handle also protects the hand if the chain breaks and swings to the back.
Located at the front under the chain. Designed to catch the chain if it breaks or jumps off the bar.
The stop switch must be easy to reach with one hand, the right hand, and must be functioning.
Muffler and spark arrestor
The muffler is to decrease the noise. The spark arrestor is a net that minimizes the risk of sparks flying out from the muffler.
The gas and oil tank caps have to be tight so that no gas or oil leaks out.
Proper clothing for working with a chainsaw is intended to protect you from potential hazards such as falling branches, thrown objects and hearing loss. It should be comfortable and adapted for the current outdoor temperature. Let´s start at the top:
A lightweight helmet with built-in earmuffs, a face shield and a rain cover at the back. It´s better to have these items in one piece than having to put everything on separately. The rain cover does not only prevent water from flowing down your neck. There could be needles, leaves, small branches insects and even snakes falling down when you start felling a tree.
The earmuffs could be equipped with radio and blue tooth. The blue tooth could be connected to your cell phone which also is a safety aspect, especially if you work alone in the forest.
The jacket has to be reflective for at least two reasons; 1. It´s easier to see each other when you are working in a team. 2. If you get stuck under a tree etc. a rescue team can search with flashlights to find you, either from the air (drone or helicopter) or the ground.
Pockets on the jacket are important. You can have a small first aid kit in one (in many countries, like Sweden, you are obliged to have a first aid kit on your body when working in the forest). A special pocket for the cell phone is good to have, preferably a waterproof one. Best is, however, if you have a waterproof telephone.
Special heavy duty gloves are to prefer. Even if the risk of injury on the hand from the saw chain is quite small, there are many other obstacles that can damage your hands, like branches, thrown objects, etc…
When you are working with a chainsaw, the chain is as good as always close to your legs. To wear good protective pants is probably the most important rule/recommendation of all. A saw chain at full speed can easily cause serious injuries to, or even cut of, a leg.
The protective material in “saw pants” consists of several layers of synthetic fabrics. It is very efficient and stops a running saw chain in a split second. If you shouldn´t believe that, you can read about it here and have a look at a film about it here. If not before, you will realize after seeing this film that a good pair of protective pants is cheap insurance.
Boots with saw protection and steel cap over the toes are necessary to wear. It´s not only for the risk of sawing yourself in the foot, which could happen during delimbing but also the risk of dropping heavy items on the feet, like a log. It happens, believe me, and when it does you will thank yourself for investing in those boots.
First aid kit
If you have an accident, despite all the protection that you wear, it´s important to be able to e.g. stop bleeding. Even a small scratch can turn nasty if you don´t take care of it at once. As mentioned above you should therefore always have a first aid kit on your body – in a pocket or in the belt. This is for the first action in the forest. Then you should also have a more complete first aid kit in your car or in your rest cabin.
Those things are something that hopefully will just lay around for years and years, which is good. But, it´s important to check on a regular basis that they are still there, just in case …
If you go out to work in the forest without tools, you will soon notice which tools you should have brought.
For the chainsaw, you will need a T-wrench, for tensioning the chain, and a good round file, for sharpening the chain. You probably don´t have to adjust the carburetor every day, but a small screwdriver is handy to have somewhere close. On many modern saws, the carburetor adjusts itself and you don´t need the screwdriver. A flat file is also good to have to adjust the depth gauge. Of course, you will need cans for gasoline and chain oil as well. A spare chain is good if you happen to damage the chain beyond what you can fix with a file.
For felling, some wedges in different sizes are good, at least two, preferably non-metal ones as they are easy to hit with the chain during felling. An ax to bang the wedges in with could be handy, just like a felling lever (with which you can also hit the wedges).
A grip tong and a hook to wear in the belt is good if you want to make the forwarder operator happy by piling up the logs. If you intend to bring the wood out yourself, it´s even more important.
A logging measuring tape is necessary for countries like Sweden where we use many precise lengths for sawlogs.
A fire extinguisher and a shovel – if something catches fire.
There could be more that you will need when you go to the forest. If you as for an example have any allergies or need some medication during the day you should have that within reach.
It´s important to let someone know where you are and can direct a rescue team to the place if needed. A good map and GPS coordinates should be available. To have contact with someone, by phone, radio or IRL sometimes every day you´re in the forest is also good to minimize the risks.
Forest work is heavy and can make you sweat, so make sure to have enough to drink (nonalcoholic) with you. You will probably also need something to eat …
Ready to go
Now you´re ready to go. As mentioned above, your chainsaw dealer will know what you need (if he doesn´t, get yourself another dealer).
Husqvarna has a safety manual that you will find here.
Stihl has a good chainsaw guide that you will find here.
Take care out there!
Photos: Carina Johansson, Per Jonsson
Sources: Stihlusa.com, Husqvarna.com