Chainsaw safety: everything you need to know

Before you turn your machine on, take a moment to reflect on the risks

Chainsaw Safety Awareness Week kicks off from May 23, highlighting just how important it is to rev up your protection to reduce the risk of injury.

Leading battery-powered chainsaw retailer STIHL NZ reports there has been an increase in women customers in the past few years. But although there are plenty of light and manoeuvrable, cutting-edge battery chainsaws in the market, it’s still important to take five minutes to get ready before you start your DIY or gardening adventure.

So far this year, ACC has already amassed 895 new chainsaw-related claims. Soft-tissue injuries and lacerations are the most common. Women chainsaw users make up a much higher proportion of these claims, increasing by more than 16 percent from 2022 to 2023, and 2024 is expected to follow a similar trend.

STIHL’s Stace Hall explains it’s vital all users handle their machines safely. “Despite the battery-run machines being quieter and easier to handle, they are still very powerful tools,” he warns.

Tips & tricks for chainsaw safety

Check that your protective clothing fits properly

Your clothing should be snug-fitting, with no loose elements getting in the way and include:

  • Trousers with a reinforced cut-retardant layer or front leg protection.
  • Protective cut-retardant footwear, with non-slip soles and steel toecaps.
  • Heavy-duty, non-slip gloves, preferably in leather.
  • Proper head, face and eye protection, as well as ear plugs or mufflers.

Visit your local STIHL Specialist Retailer to view their extensive range of Essential Protective Wear.

Before you start up your chainsaw, check:

  • That all parts are intact and secure.
  • The chain is the right tension.
  • The chain cutters are sharp.
  • The depth gauge settings are correct.
  • All safety devices are in place and working.
  • There are no loose bolts, screws, nuts or covers.
  • If anything’s missing or damaged, don’t use the chainsaw. This is especially important if you weren’t the last person to use it.

Check your work area

Make sure your work area is free of tripping hazards and electrical cables. Also, keep an eye out for anyone who could enter your work area and check to make sure nothing is going to fall on you while you’re working (like tree tops, etc). Watch the weather – some conditions could make your work area hazardous.

Hold and use the chainsaw correctly

Keep two hands on the saw and hold it close to your body, with the body of the saw close to what you’re cutting. Plant your feet firmly and slightly apart for balance. Never try to adjust your chain or machine while the engine is running.

Maintain your chainsaw

Good maintenance will extend the chainsaw’s life and ensure it’s safe to use. When you finish a job, make sure the air filters, sprocket cover and chain brake mechanism are free from sawdust; clean the guide bar groove; oil the holes and check everything is in place.

STIHL shares more chainsaw safety tips and to learn more about their chainsaw and safety gear range head to

Win a STIHL safety bundle

One lucky reader will win a STIHL safety bundle, worth $627.50, including protective chaps, safety glasses, earmuffs and a petrol-powered chainsaw (MS162 12”). Enter your details below and you are in the draw. Entries close 11:59pm, Sunday 23 June 2024.

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