Safety with Chainsaws


The chainsaw is an indispensable labour saving aid used by thousands of New Zealand farmers, firewood gatherers and other non-vocational users. It makes light work of felling and cutting up trees, but a chainsaw deserves to be treated with respect. Carelessly used, inadequately maintained or incorrectly equipped, a chainsaw can be a lethal weapon.

The Department of Labour is concerned at the number of accidents involving chainsaws in the workplace, and has produced this guideline for anyone who is an occasional chainsaw user. It is not intended for professional forestry workers as their work is already governed by detailed safety codes.

In this guideline you will find information on chainsaw safety devices, protective clothing and equipment you should wear, and advice on safe working methods. It also gives tips on maintaining your chainsaw and other ways you can protect yourself and other people.

If you have just bought a chainsaw, you should read the manufacturer’s instruction manual carefully and familiarise yourself with your chainsaw’s operation. If you have not used a chainsaw before, practice the cutting techniques on a stump or log before you attempt more serious work.

If you use your chainsaw sensibly, follow correct techniques and maintain your saw to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will provide you with safe and trouble-free service.

If you’re a chainsaw novice, it’s an excellent idea to get training from a qualified person. This way you learn by hands-on experience and avoid developing unsafe habits right from the start. Your chainsaw dealer may be able to provide this instruction or put you in contact with a qualified instructor.