Are Chainsaws Dangerous?

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Are you a beginner chainsaw user, and you’re worried about it being dangerous or not? If yes, then this is definitely the right place for you to be.

Are chainsaws dangerous is a common question that beginner chainsaw users have. Yes, chainsaws are powerful machines, and they’re considered to be among the most dangerous power tools out there. Remember, you should not be using a chainsaw without receiving proper training and wearing authentic protective equipment, or else you might end up injuring yourself. Some of the common accidents that could happen if you’re not careful with your chainsaw include kickback, pushback, pull-in, or chain slips.

In this article, you’ll get all about the dangers of using chainsaws, are chainsaws dangerous, what safety equipment will you need to avoid accidents, and other safety precautions to take when using a chainsaw among others. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

Are Chainsaws Dangerous?

If you are a beginner, and you are thinking of purchasing a chainsaw, many questions will pop into your mind. One of the many questions that pop into your head will probably be how dangerous a chainsaw is. This is a valid question and quite common.

professional logger cutting down tree branches using chainsaw

Yes, chainsaws are considered to be among the most dangerous power tools out there. However, you shouldn’t try to use a chainsaw without proper chainsaw training and wearing protective equipment. Otherwise, you might end up injuring not just yourself, but others too.

Therefore, before you begin working with a chainsaw, you should ensure that you have proper know-how of it. Also, taking training and courses on using a chainsaw properly will make this easier and safer for you. Thousands of injuries and deaths are reported each year as people don’t follow the proper guidelines.

People try taking shortcuts or don’t follow the safety measures and end up risking injuries. The consequences of this time saving could end up costing big, as you might end up losing an arm or a leg.

To avoid any major accidents, you need to follow all the safety measures and avoid trying to take shortcuts. Moreover, before you deal with a gas-powered chainsaw, you’ll have to attend training for using and operating the chainsaw.

What Makes Chainsaws So Dangerous?

While purchasing a firewood chainsaw or working with one must have got you thinking about how dangerous this machine is. It isn’t that hard to imagine why a sharp-bladed chainsaw spinning at high speeds can be a dangerous prospect. In fact, a fast-moving chainsaw blade can result in fatal injuries. If a chainsaw can cut through wood with ease, chances are that it can easily do a number on your limbs too.

Despite the safety precautions and safety protocols, an average of 36,000 chainsaw-related injuries take place each year in the United States alone. This is a massive number, but most of them could have been avoided if you used proper technique and wore protective gear. Some of the common causes for chainsaw-related injuries are kickback, pull-in, and pushback – 

1. Kickback

Chainsaw kickback is one of the most common accidents that can cause huge trouble, including injuries to you and the people around you. If you’re cutting wood and the chainsaw chain gets stuck in hardwood, then it’ll generate pressure in opposite direction. Kickback is a sudden opposite pressure of a chainsaw that happens when the tip of the chainsaw blade comes in contact with a hard surface or suddenly gets stuck in a piece of wood. This redirects the force of the chain in the opposite direction and towards the user.

Moreover, if the blades come in contact with metal or stones or any hard surface, the chainsaw can bounce off the material. Consequently, it could reach your face directly as the force will be in the opposite direction, which is also your face’s direction. 

To avoid such types of incidents, the chainsaws now come designed to have a kickback mechanism. Even though this is a good step to overcome dangerous issues, it isn’t entirely safe. With this mechanism, your chainsaw will stop moving when kickback occurs. However, it can still hit your face, while steady blades could cause injuries.

2. Pushback and pull-in

Aside from kickback, there are other dangers to a chainsaw too. Pushback and pull-in could happen when your chainsaw’s blade hit a hard surface or suddenly get stuck. In such cases, your chainsaw will either get pulled toward the wood or get pushed back in the direction of the user. This can easily result in a loss of balance. In the worst-case scenario, the user could fall onto their chainsaw while the chainsaw chain is still moving. 

Using a high-quality mini chainsaw can easily prevent this issue. Moreover, you need to use proper chainsaw safety gear to make sure you’re safe from chainsaw injuries.

3. Chain slips

The causes mentioned above are the most common, but other types of accidents are worth mentioning too.

For instance, the chain could fall off the guide bar if it isn’t properly tensioned or if it gets too loose during operation. It can easily result in the chain spinning out of control and hitting your arms or legs. 

Even though chain slips aren’t frequent and rarely take place, they can still cause major injuries. This doesn’t happen when you’re avoiding low-quality chains and tensioning them properly before using them.

If the chainsaw chain is loose, and you begin working with it, it could slip off. As a result, it might hit your face, arms, or any other body part. To avoid such accidents, many chainsaws can be upgraded, and they feature a chain catcher underneath the chainsaw. This is used for catching the chain as soon as it slips from the guide bar. You should always remember to take precautionary measures by checking the tension of the chainsaw chain before use.

There are also accidents, such as the user cutting into his leg or arm, slipping and falling onto the chainsaw, and more. Most of these accidents happen because the user wasn’t paying attention to the surroundings. For that reason, it is important that you always be well-rested and taking regular breaks when using the chainsaw.

Where Can You Learn To Use a Chainsaw Safely?

There are numerous companies that offer impressive chainsaw training – from general maintenance and safety to advanced chainsaw-cutting techniques. You will be able to find them if you search around on the internet, or you can also take the word-of-mouth route. Further, you can also find a few government-sponsored courses depending on your area of residence. If this isn’t an option for you, it is advised that you can ask a relative, friend, or neighbor who has experience with the chainsaw to teach you the basics.

It isn’t advised that you should try to teach yourself how to use a chainsaw. Once you know the basics, you will be able to do the simple tasks. Say that you only need the chainsaw for cutting some firewood or some basic limbing, then you can do just fine. You should ensure that you’re reading everything mentioned in the owner’s manual and watching a few tutorial videos on YouTube. There are many good ones out there and even though they might not be as good as having an experienced chainsaw user teach you in person, it’ll still be better than nothing.

However, if you’re intent on doing a heavy project like felling trees in your backyard, you should look for help from someone with enough experience. There are many things that could go wrong and if something happens, you might not be able to call for help if you’re working alone.

Safety Equipment To Use When Using a Chainsaw

Safety equipment will be essential when you are working with a chainsaw. If you’re trying to keep yourself safe from all sorts of troubles and accidents, there are a few chainsaw hazards and control measures to keep in mind. Here is the safety equipment that you need to use when working with a chainsaw – 

Chainsaw chaps

If your chainsaw suddenly kickbacks or cause any type of trouble, it could result in an imbalance of body weight and you might fall down. In such situations, chainsaw chaps will save the day. Chainsaw chaps are specially designed pants made for stopping the chainsaw chain from rotating if it cuts into the chainsaw user’s leg. 

What happens generally is that an active chainsaw can also fall on you and injure you. Legs are commonly subject to such injuries. You can avoid this by wearing chainsaw chaps while cutting. It has the material that stops the moving chain while also preventing the blade to reach your body.

Chainsaw chaps are filled with different types of fibers, usually ballistic nylon or Kevlar. If they come in contact with the chain, they get stuck to it and clog the engine in a split second. With chainsaw-related injuries being such a common occurrence, you must always wear one of them, even for smaller tasks. 

Hearing protection

When you’re using a chainsaw for various cutting projects, it makes a lot of noise. Moreover, chainsaws aren’t just loud and annoying, but they can also result in permanent damage to your hearing ability. It could have mild effects on your hearing ability, but it could also be as high as losing your hearing ability.

To avoid that, wearing some sort of hearing protection will be important. Some people use ear plugs, but they don’t always block sound as effectively as ear muffs. There are many good options specifically designed for chainsaws and other loud power tools. Using ear muffs will be far more protective compared to air plugs. You can purchase one that is specially designed for providing protection from the loud noises of machinery.

Protection for eyes

Protecting your eyes will be a must when you’re dealing with any chainsaw-related work. You don’t necessarily require safety goggles for protecting your eyes from the chainsaw itself. However, safety goggles are more important for protecting your eyes from the tiny splinters and wood fragments generated while cutting. Even a small piece of wood can get into your eyes and cause varying types of injuries. Moreover, some splinters might arise when cutting wood, and you need to protect your eyes from them too. 

If you aren’t wearing safety goggles, your attention might get diverted to protecting your eyes from small splinters and scraps of wood, causing a distraction that can lead to other accidents. 

Some chainsaw users also use sunglasses as an alternative, but it isn’t a smart idea. Sunglasses don’t offer as much protection as a quality pair of safety glasses, and they can also hinder your vision.

Safety helmet with face protection

As a whole, you’ll have to protect your face from splinters and scraps of wood that get generated during cutting and also from potential misconduct by chainsaws. In both situations, to protect your face, you’ll need to be wearing a protective helmet with face protection on your face.

Many people like to skip this equipment when using chainsaws at home. However, it isn’t a smart idea to skip wearing a safety helmet with face protection whether you’re working in your backyard or in the woods. This might not be obvious, but many types of injuries happen due to the twigs and branches falling from trees that you’re going to cut down. This is a common occurrence when working in the woods. If you’re really unfortunate and a tree falls down on you, having a sturdy helmet could save your life.

Chainsaw gloves for hand protection

Chainsaw gloves are slightly different from regular protective gloves. You will notice that the material is quite thin between the fingers, so it doesn’t spread out on your hand as much. This makes sure that the grip is always firm on the handlebar of your chainsaw.

There are two main things that make wearing chainsaw gloves essential. Firstly, if you’re working for a long time, your hands are bound to get sweaty. This can easily loosen your grip on your chainsaw. As a result, you could meet a fatal accident. Secondly, if there is a kickback or chainsaw slip, your hands will be protected from the chainsaw. You can purchase high-quality chainsaw gloves and ensure that you’re wearing them when working with a chainsaw.

The Dangers of Using a Chain Saw

Are Electric Chainsaws Less Dangerous Than Gas-Powered Chainsaws?

Generally, yes, electric chainsaws are safer than gas-powered chainsaws. However, this is largely due to the fact they aren’t as powerful as gas-powered machines. Further, the occasional kickback will be easier to control.

With that said, the kickback can still happen if you’re using an electric chainsaw. Although this will still be relatively dangerous, it wouldn’t be as dangerous as a gas-powered chainsaw.

What is a Good Chainsaw Option for Beginners?

It will depend on your needs, but for home use for a beginner, it is recommended you should use a battery-powered one. You can also use a medium-sized gas-powered chainsaw. 

Regardless of the chainsaw you use, you should buy one with a guide bar that isn’t longer than 16 inches. A chainsaw having a smaller guide bar will be easier to control and you can always upgrade to a bigger bar later on.

Tips to Keep in Mind When Using a Chainsaw

Chainsaw operators put themselves at great risk when trying to perform beyond their capabilities. Higher-risk chainsaw operations generally include cutting trees that are on unstable ground, working with a heavy lean, working on steep slopes, or working with root rot. Here are some of the safety tips to remember when working with a chainsaw – 

1. Operate at your skill level

Operating the chainsaw above shoulder-length or when working from a ladder will always be riskier. It is important to operate the chainsaw within your skill level to have maximum safety.

2. Avoid working alone

Make sure you’re trained and experienced enough to operate a chainsaw. Further, it is recommended that you should not operate the chainsaw alone.

3. Plan ahead before working

Before you operate the chainsaw, take time to plan ahead to make sure that the work area is secure, and the chainsaw is in the proper operating condition.

4. Clear the obstacles

Make sure that there aren’t any people in the immediate area. Clear out any obstacles that might interfere with your ability to have stable footing, or it could block your retreat path. Further, you should identify the electrical lines in and near the work area.

5. Wear the necessary safety gear

Chainsaw operators need to wear personal protective equipment when working. This could be the difference between a minor abrasion and a deadly injury. Further, you should also protect your head, face, eyes, hands, legs, and feet.

6. Check the condition of your chainsaw

You should check that the switches, controls, and safety devices work smoothly. It would help if you don’t operate a chainsaw that is damaged or has disengaged components. Check the handle, bolts, and chain for damage and proper tension. You should ensure that the chain is sharp and that the lubrication reservoir is full. You must fuel the chainsaw at least 10 feet away from the ignition sources.


How common are chainsaw accidents?

Chainsaw injuries are quite common, and the biggest reason is kickback. The other reasons that could cause accidents are pushback, pull-in, and chain slips. Among them, chain slips are the rarest. Although chainsaw-related injuries are common, deaths due to such accidents are very rare.

Is chainsaw kickback dangerous?

Chainsaw kickback can cause a wide range of problems, from a mild cut to a huge accident. For a daily user, this might not be a big issue, as you’ll know how to tackle this situation easily. However, a beginner might face great danger when there is an accidental kickback.

How many people die because of chainsaw injuries each year?

It has been reported that more than 250 die yearly due to chainsaw incidents in the U.S. alone. Aside from that, thousands of people suffer from chainsaw injuries when working with chainsaws. Most of these injuries come as a result of chainsaw kickbacks.

Can a chainsaw cut through the skin?

Yes, a fast-moving chainsaw blade can easily cut through the skin. Moreover, it can also cut through bones with little to no difficulty. Although cutting bones could dull the blades of the chainsaw chain, it is possible to cut bones.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.