Chainsaw Safety: Tips for Storm Cleanup

It's been a wild weather week in Story County with a tornado ripping through Nevada on Tuesday and damaging winds on Friday. As many of us prepare to clear branches and downed trees this weekend, it's important to prioritize safety, especially when operating chainsaws. Here are essential chainsaw safety tips from OSHA to ensure you stay safe while tackling storm cleanup.

Preparing for Cleanup

  •  Check Controls: Ensure all controls, chain tension, bolts, and handles are functioning properly and adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Sharp Chain: Make sure the chain is always sharp and the oil tank is full.
  •  Starting Procedure: Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support—drop starting is never allowed. 
  • Safe Distance: Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged.

Safe Fueling

  • Approved Containers: Use approved containers for transporting fuel to the saw.
  • Safe Dispensing: Dispense fuel at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition. No smoking during fueling.
  • Use a Funnel: Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw.
  • Cool Down: Never attempt to fuel a running or hot saw.

Safe Operation

  • Clear the Path: Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs, and rocks from the saw’s chain path. Check for nails, spikes, or other metal in the tree before cutting.
  • Safe Transport: Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
  • Maintain Balance: Keep your hands on the saw’s handles and maintain balance while operating the saw.
  • Wear Protective Equipment: Always wear proper personal protective equipment, including hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing, and head protection.
  • Avoid Loose Clothing: Do not wear loose-fitting clothing that could get caught in the saw.
  • Watch for Binding: Be cautious that the trunk or tree limbs do not bind against the saw.
  • Beware of Tension: Watch for branches under tension; they may spring out when cut.
  • Kickback Protection: Gasoline-powered chainsaws must have a protective device to minimize chainsaw kickback. Avoid sawing with the tip and keep the tip guard in place.

 By following these safety guidelines, you can help prevent injuries and ensure a smoother, safer cleanup process. Stay safe, Story County, and thank you for your efforts in helping our community recover from this week's storms. For more detailed information on chainsaw safety, visit the OSHA website at or consult your chainsaw’s manufacturer guidelines.

 Stay safe, and happy cleanup!