Safety Awareness: Protect Your Legs
Are You Wearing Protection?
Have you ever used a chainsaw before? More than likely, yes. Unless you are just doing some very fine ornamental pruning, you have used a chainsaw in your day-to-day work routine! More than likely you use a chainsaw almost all day long for hours on end. The big question is, what type of chainsaw protection are you employing?
Chainsaws are amazingly wonderful tools that make our jobs much easier compared to the days of axes and crosscut saws. From work that used to take days to complete, chainsaws have cut this time into tenths, but just like everything else, the technology comes with a trade off. The trade off for this enormous amount of hand held power is an enormous amount of handheld danger. If chainsaws have the ability to cut hard, almost petrified, dead Elm with ease then what are they capable of doing to your calf or even your thigh?
A great way to think about what chainsaws are capable of is to think about what they do to wood. They don't just cut wood, they actually remove material. That's the same thing it would do to your flesh; it would remove between 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch of flesh and bone in a matter of seconds!
Rules Written in Blood
OSHA regulations state that anyone operating a chainsaw on the ground SHALL wear chainsaw protection on their legs. I was once told that the rules that OSHA enforces were written in blood. That means that all of the rules were put in place because someone was either seriously injured or died because these rules were broken or overlooked. Honestly, that should be reason enough to follow what OSHA says, not to mention the fines that will be sure to follow if you aren't complying by their rules!
So to go back to the original question: are you protected from your chainsaw while you are working? Well, are you?
Bullet-Proof Vest for Your Legs
There are a couple forms of chainsaw protection that are sure to keep you safe on the job. The simplest and most readily available are Chainsaw Chaps. Chainsaw Chaps fit right over top of your pants and quickly buckle around the waist and on the backs of your thighs, near your knees, the backs of your calves, and lastly near your ankles. Every buckle should be fastened and tightened when you are wearing these.
Chainsaw Chaps are designed with a really long strand of Kevlar (yeah, the same stuff from bullet-proof vests) that is weaved into a pattern that stretches from the top of the waist all the way to the ankle without separating. If a chainsaw were to make contact with the inner material of the chaps, the teeth on the chain would grab this strand and pull it out of the chaps and into the sprocket of the chainsaw. The Kevlar material would jam the sprocket and stop the chain almost instantaneously.
Tested to Provide the Safety You Need
I've had the opportunity to cut close to 100 pairs of chaps with chainsaws during demos and safety classes. It honestly surprises me every time just how quickly and, at times, how violently the saw will slam to a stop when the Kevlar hits the sprocket. Other times, it isn't even the sprocket that stops the saw; the Kevlar will get caught in the sprocket on the nose of the chainsaw! Regardless, the saw will slam to a stop without passing to the inner fabric of the chaps.
During some demos, we have had the chainsaw actually make it to the inner fabric, but this was always when we were using higher powered saws or high powered saws that also had longer bars. The longer the bar, the longer distance the Kevlar will need to travel before it hits the sprocket. Regardless, if the saw did make it to the other side of the chaps, the saw still stopped. Can you imagine how long it would take for the saw to stop if it were buried into your leg? More than likely the saw would start to slow down once it made it through the flesh, muscle, fat, bone, and ligaments and was finally buried in the dirt. Sorry for the graphic visual, but it's a stark reality if you aren't employing proper chainsaw protection.
Be Sure to Completely Strap In
One thing to keep in mind, as noted earlier, is to keep the chaps buckled tight around your legs. Many times I've seen ground workers with just the waist buckle and the ankle buckles done. If a chainsaw were to make contact with the chaps, they can grab the loose, unbuckled material, pull it off your leg and in the process expose your leg to the spinning chain. Be sure to buckle and tighten all the buckles!
A Great Deal!
Chainsaw Chaps are a very affordable and practical way to protect yourself and your workers from the disaster that a chainsaw cut can lead to. A small investment in chaps and some investment in training are sure to help you and your workers through a long and HEALTHY career! For our part, we are giving you 20% off all chaps on our website from February 13th to February 19th! That's a great deal to help gear up your crews for a safe year!