What I learned About Chainsaw Safety
Kevin Felts 02.11.17
January 2014 I learned a couple of things about chainsaw safety. While using a chainsaw to cut down small trees, I had a temporary lapse of attention that resulted in a trip to the emergency room. The gash in my pants leg was 5 inches long. Thankfully, the cut in my leg was only 3 inches long.
I got in the vehicle, drove home (which was only a quarter mile away) and applied first aid. At first, I did not want to go to the hospital. However, chainsaws leave a jagged cut with pieces of loose flesh. I knew that if I did not get medical attention, infection was sure to set in.
Trip to the Emergency Room
The people at Christus in Jasper Texas were quick to get me into a room. A nurse walks in, evaluates injury, took my vitals, and asked a few questions.
It had been about 15 years since my last tetanus shot. You can guess what happened next. The nurse left the room and came back a few minutes later with a tetanus shot. I do not know which one hurt worse, the shot or the thee inch long gash in my leg.
A little while later another nurse came into the room with a needle full of lidocaine, scissors and a staple gun.
The absolute worst part were the injections of lidocaine. Once numb the pieces of jagged flesh were cut away, the wound pulled closed and stapled.
Common Chainsaw Injury
While the nurse was doing her part to fix my leg, we talked about chainsaw injuries. She told me leg injuries were the most common type of injury the emergency room sees with chainsaws.
What happens? As people finish the cut, they swing the chainsaw to the side of their body and then reach to move something. As the person bends over, the chain is pushed into the persons leg.
The nurses description is exactly what happened to my leg.
Chainsaws and Small Brush
I was using the chainsaw to cut small trees about an inch in diameter. I reached down to grab one of the small trees, and the saw went into my leg.
Chainsaws are not intended for small brush. They are intended to cut trees, and for the bar to be held straight out away from the body.
When we use chainsaws for brush, the chain moves close to body parts, which is a recipe for disaster.
The honest truth is, I was over confident. At the time, I was 46 years old and had been using a chainsaw for decades. All it took for an injury to happen was that split-second of not paying attention.