What Is Chainsaw Kickback?
A chainsaw kickback can be a significant risk whenever you’re operating the equipment, so it’s essential to know why it happens and how to prevent it. Every year, about 36,000 people are treated for chainsaw-related injuries, according to data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Proper equipment handling can be the difference between a severe injury and getting the job done.
What is chainsaw kickback? It’s a buildup of pressure that occurs when a chainsaw gets stuck and cannot cut deeper into a material, resulting in a violent kick backward. To effectively prevent this hazard, you can implement best practices for reducing chainsaw kickback every time you use the equipment.
The Chainsaw Kickback Zone Explained
A sudden kick toward the operator can occur most frequently in the chainsaw kickback zone. This equipment area faces the most pressure while cutting, so it is most prone to a sudden, dangerous reaction upward. When you’re operating, you should pay careful attention to the top tip of the chainsaw bar, as it has the most risk.
The cutting blades at the top are more likely than other parts of the saw to catch teeth on the material you are cutting. The saw won’t be able to cut deeper at that point, leaving built-up pressure with nowhere to go. As the engine is still running, the energy can cause the saw’s equal and opposite reaction. It can then kick back toward the operator.
If you use the point of the blade, you’re far more likely to get the edge pinched by the material you’re cutting. A kickback can happen instantly, which wouldn’t leave you time to respond before the blade lunges upward. The larger the bar nose, the greater the risk of chainsaw kickback for this zone. As for the force of the kickback, the length of time it’s stuck will increase its severity proportionally. To best protect yourself, you should never use the chainsaw kickback zone while cutting materials.
What Causes Chainsaw Kickback?
Concrete chainsaw kickback can occur for a few different reasons. Before operating, ensure you understand how this type of accident can happen so you can effectively prevent it.
In this situation, the object being cut pinches the saw chain at one end of the bar, preventing normal operations. The pinched chain is pushed back forcefully while receiving full engine power. The chainsaw will eventually kick back at the operator as the excess energy builds up.
The most common form of kickback, this type is the hardest to control. When the material you’re cutting hits the nose of the saw, or the kickback zone, the cutting teeth of the saw angle backward. As a result, they run against the material instead of cutting deeper. As the teeth continue to run without getting anywhere, it forces the saw bar’s nose back upward at maximum force.
Not maintaining your equipment can also cause kickback. A dull chain is one significant risk, as it will be less effective at cutting and could run against the material at full power without going deeper. This situation can quickly result in a kickback. A damaged chain can also impede correct and safe operation. It might cause the cutting teeth to get stuck or break and cause you to lose control of the saw. To help protect yourself, regularly check and service your chainsaw equipment.
Steps to Reduce Chainsaw Kickback
Kickback is one of the most common causes of saw-related injuries, so knowing how to avoid chainsaw kickback is vital. Follow these steps on how to prevent chainsaw kickback every time you operate.
1. Read the Manual
Before you begin operating your chainsaw, take the time to read the manual. Pay attention to proper procedures for setting up your equipment and begin to cut. There may be particular considerations, emergency safety features and other items you need to be aware of to help ensure your work is safe.
2. Inspect the Saw for Any Damage
A damaged chainsaw, blades or engine can all put you at increased risk of kickback, so be sure to do a thorough inspection before operating. Check that everything is working correctly and in good repair. That way, you know what to expect from your equipment when you turn it on.
3. Ensure Chains Are Sharpened
Unsharpened chains can be a significant hazard that can cause kickbacks, so regularly check your equipment chains. If they aren’t sharp enough, make sure you get the proper maintenance for them before you use your chainsaw again. Make sure to always check the manufacturer’s manual for the product you are using to ensure you follow the correct maintenance standards.
4. Check the Chain Brake
You need to be sure the saw will stop immediately and safely when you need to turn it off. Inspect the chain brake for any issues and ensure it’s working quickly and safely.
5. Wear the Right Clothes and Protective Gear
Ensure you’re wearing proper protective gear and clothes to help protect your skin. Equipment such as eye protection and gloves are critical to keeping you safe if something happens unexpectedly.
6. Stay Alert and Watch the Kickback Zone
Throughout the cutting process, stay fully alert and aware of your surroundings. Pay careful attention to the kickback zone and strategically avoid using it at any point.
7. Keep a Solid Grip on the Saw
Maintain complete control of the saw’s motion by keeping a solid grip you can sustain as you cut the material.
8. Inspect Chainsaw for Damage After Cutting
After every project, take a few moments to check over the chainsaw. Look for any potential damage to the chains, cutting teeth, guide bars or other mechanisms, and make sure it’s ready for the next job.
How Can You Avoid Kickback When Cutting Concrete?
Cutting concrete with a chainsaw can be complicated because of the material’s high density and hardness. To help protect yourself, follow some fundamental principles on the job.
1. Keep the Blade Straight When Cutting
Make sure your blade is as straight as possible throughout the cutting process. This practice will help keep it from getting stuck on the concrete.
2. Make Sure What You’re Cutting Is Supported
Ensure the object you’re cutting has appropriate support for the job. You want to ensure it’s stable and steady while operating the saw.
3. Don’t Cut in the Kickback Zone
While sawing, be careful to avoid the kickback zone, regardless of the object’s cutting requirements.
4. Stand to the Side of the Saw Blade
As you operate, stay to the side of the blade to help keep yourself safe if the edge gets out of control.
Shop RGC Construction for Chainsaw Solutions
With the proper chainsaw kickback safety practices, you can keep your chainsaw operations safe and efficient for every job. When you need trusted supplies to match your concrete cutting needs, RGC Construction can help. With 75 years in the industry, we offer a range of hydraulic chainsaws, hydraulic saws and other critical equipment for your applications. Partner with us and get what you need today.