Within the last few years equipment manufacturers have gone to great efforts to make their products safer. Systems such as the blade brake control (BBC) and the Zone Restart with engine

kill for lawn equipment have been very positive although unpopular. If you have been in your local shop to purchase a saw chain or maybe look at new saws, you were most likely confronted with several items designed to comply with more safety regulations. The new regulations are designed to reduce the severity of kickback. Kickback has been a leading cause of injury and even death to chain saw operators. Saw chain manufacturers have several new products that are specifically designed for safer operation. Saw manufacturers are using the safer chains, plus bars with small tips, and some have incorporated chainbrakes. All new saws have some combination of these three safety features.

All of this effort has been implemented with one thing in mind; to keep you from getting hurt.

Once again I find the new products receiving mixed reviews. Some very pleased and some not so pleased. My goal with this report is to get you, the chain saw operator, to take a fresh look at what is being done to help you in your work.

Many of us go through life with some feeling of super natural power that gives us the ability to be immune to injury. However, in reality, no one has such power. We do get into trouble. We do get injured. How many intelligent people would walk a tight rope without a safety net? Chain brakes, anti-kickback saw chain, and engine kill systems are your safety net.

We never get cut or injured by a chain saw intentionally, but we do let our minds wander. After a long hard day our reactions are not as sharp as they might have been earlier. Sometimes we just slip and fall or momentarily lose our balance and… in a fraction of a second… we are in trouble. Trouble that can cause the loss of a finger, a hand, or even a leg!

Most service shop owners have received requests to remove some sort of safety system from chain saws and other power equipment. A good shop will refuse to provide this service to you because of liability problems as well as concern for their customers. Why should a service shop render a safety feature inoperative when all it will get him is a court awarded liability judgement that will bankrupt him? Why would you want to provide an employee injured by your unsafe chain saw the opportunity to sue you because you had a safety feature removed?

Safety features are designed to protect you, your employees, and your customers. Life can be tough enough, but why make it tougher because you removed a safety feature whose result left someone without toes or a leg?

Good safety equipment should not make a tool more difficult to use. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide us with units that are safe and no more bothersome to use than units without the safety features. It is also your responsibility to communicate your ideas and suggestions to those manufacturers so that they can better respond to your safety needs.

Some manufacturers, due to a demand from the Green Industry, have found ways to forestall the inclusion of safety measures on some units by designating them as “Commercial”. This is a development that is potentially disastrous. I would rather those manufacturers use their talents to engineer products with superior safety and ease of operation. Instead, the commercial user can still purchase units that are less safe than the “consumer model” counterpart. A professional is supposed to have more skill in the operation of power equipment, but the facts simply do not back up that idea. Safety programs just aren’t enough. Consequently our industry will continue to suffer loss of time on the job and even higher insurance premiums due to injury from power equipment.

If you are in need of a new chain saw or other piece of power equipment look at a variety of products. Look for safe equipment that is convenient to use and fits your needs. Keep safety features in good working condition so you can stay on the job. Most importantly, stay healthy and whole both physically and financially.

Work SAFE.