Chainsaw Kickback: A Serious Injury

Chainsaw Kickback: A Serious Injury

Even though the large, spinning blade of a chainsaw can make tough jobs easier, it can also lead to severe injuries in the blink of an eye. Because of this, everyone who works with a chainsaw should make sure that they have been adequately trained to use it safely.

According to a research study published in the Journal of Forensic Science:

  • Every year, around three million new chainsaws are purchased in the United States.
  • These chainsaws are in addition to those which are already in use.
  • Combined, these chainsaws account for more than 28,000 injuries every year.
  • The vast majority of chainsaw injuries are to the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
  • About 10 percent of injuries involving chainsaws involve the neck and head.

The study goes on to explore chainsaw injury causes. The most common chainsaw injuries are due:

  • Pull-in: A chainsaw pull-in injury occurs when the chain suddenly stops. This happens when the saw is pinched in a tight location, or an object is in the way. The chain jerks forward, and the user loses control.
  • Pushback: If the saw gets caught on an object, the saw could also jerk in the other direction, pushing back against the user.

While these two are dangerous, perhaps the most common cause of a severe chainsaw injury is a kickback.

Chainsaw Injuries Due to Kickback

In a kickback injury, the end portion of the guide bar strikes an object. When this happens, the saw snags and becomes pinched. If this occurs within the “kickback zone,” the tip of the blade is thrown upwards and back towards the person using the chainsaw. This unexpected motion can lead to serious injuries to the head and face area because the saw could make contact with the operator. In some cases, these accidents could be fatal. In the study referenced above, two different case reports illustrate individuals who were killed as a result of injuries sustained via chainsaw kickback. One case involved the operation of a chainsaw with limited safety features. The other case described someone without proper training using a newer, more efficient chainsaw.

Prevention of Chainsaw Kickback Injuries

Based on the results of the study, the most common reasons why someone suffers a kickback injury while using a chainsaw are:

  • Lack of proper training with the chainsaw.
  • Using a chainsaw that does not have adequate safety features put in place.
  • Poor judgment on the part of the person using the chainsaw.

Because of this, there are a few tips that people using a chainsaw should keep in mind. Following these guidelines can help reduce the chances of a severe kickback injury occurring. Examples include:

  • Make sure to use a chainsaw that has safety devices in place to minimize kickback injuries. Examples include a chain brake, a reduced-kickback chain, or a low kickback chain.
  • Do not allow the guide bar to make contact with the ground while the saw is running.
  • Use the saw to cut only one piece at a time.
  • Make sure to use the saw at full power, so it does not snag.
  • Ensure that the chain is set to the correct tension when in use.
  • Wear shoes that allow the user to keep a firm grip on the ground.

Watch YouTube Video: Safe Chainsaw Use – Kickback (Preview) – This video provides information on how and why kickback happens and how to prevent it.

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Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. Chainsaw accidents are serious. If you or someone you know has been hurt while using a chainsaw, contact me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.

I’ve assisted many people in the Northern California area with their wrongful death and personal injury cases over the past 36 years. I represent injured individuals and their family members while helping them earn the compensation that they deserve.

Image Citation: The chainsaw image on this post is stored on The picture is shown here via the Creative Commons License, version CC0.

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