Newswise — The summer season brings opportunities for landowners to clean up downed trees from storms and clear vegetation growth in undesirable areas. Once primarily used by professional loggers, chainsaws are now widely used by landowners looking to reduce the effort required for cutting wood and clearing land.

West Virginia University Extension experts Ben Spong, forest operations specialist, and Pat Donnelly, Timber Safe grant research assistant, provide safety tips to help avoid serious injuries, and even death, when operating a chainsaw.


“Be sure to review the operator's manual and the manufacturer’s recommended use procedures for your chainsaw prior to use. Follow all operating instructions, especially those on preventing kickback.” 

“Inspect your chainsaw before using it. A sharp and well-maintained saw increases productivity, decreases fatigue and helps prevent injury and accidents. Know the safety features of your saw and check to be sure they are working properly.”

“Always use personal protective equipment (i.e., hard hat, eye protection, hearing protection, gloves, leg protection, foot protection), which can be purchased from most saw shops and home centers. While PPE won't prevent accidents, it may keep an accident from becoming a serious injury.” – Ben Spong, Forest Operations Specialist, WVU Extension

“Before attempting to take on a task, consider your level of experience with chainsaw use and tree felling. If you have limited experience, it may be best to consult with a professional arborist.”

“Under the false impression that tree limbing and felling are simple tasks, homeowners may be inclined to use a ladder to climb up into a tree and cut overhead. Do not do this! It can result in serious injuries and even death. Take the extra time and effort to contact a professional, certified arborist.” –  Pat Donnelly, Timber Safe Grant Research Assistant, WVU Extension

Read more about safe chainsaw operation and maintenance.