Respect your chainsaw – top 6 chainsaw safety tips


Chainsaw-related deaths are rare, but they do happen. Injuries, however, are a little more frequent and that’s why Mark Odell, Product Manager from Husqvarna South Africa, says that whether you are a seasoned professional saw operator or an occasional user, your chainsaw deserves your utmost respect.

He says that when used correctly, chainsaws are incredible tools that save time, effort and labour costs, particularly for landowners and forestry professionals.

“However, whilst Husqvarna has world-class safety features on all their chainsaws, it is important to remember that most chainsaw accidents are as a result of being hit by the felled tree or a branch, so operator safety training is as important as safe equipment. Operators must be fully educated on chainsaw safety before they even pick up the tool,” he adds.

Six safety tips that every operator needs to know:

  1. Avoid kickbacks by never using the kickback zone of the saw
    A kickback happens when the chain catches something solid and flicks the machine upwards, towards the operator, often resulting in nasty wounds to the face, neck or upper torso. The risk of kickback is simply too high when using the upper part of the nose of the guide bar, so it’s critical that you avoid using this part of the saw and only use the pulling zone of the chain (i.e. the underneath part of the saw).
  2. Make sure all safety features are working
    To achieve a safe working situation a modern chainsaw must be fitted with the following safety features:
    • kickback guard and chain brake
    • throttle back
    • chain catcher
    • right-hand guard
    • accessible stop control.
    Remember to regularly inspect these features and always make sure you have a sharp and properly filed chain. Husqvarna chainsaws have an additional safety feature in the form of the TrioBrake™ which is triggered if the hand holding the back handle touches a second guard.
  3. Guard against chain breaks
    If a chain is going to break, it will probably be whilst it is working. You need to make sure that the guard underneath the chainsaw, protecting your hand on the back handle, as well as the chain catcher, are both firmly in place. It is similarly placed underneath the chainsaw, as the chain goes into the sprocket.
  4. Adopt the correct grip and stance
    Sheer exhaustion or sometimes even the anticipation of the end of a shift can tempt operators into compromising their hold on the chainsaw and/or neglecting their posture. Most safety features rely on the correct handling of the machine so there can be no concession when it comes to firmly gripping the chainsaw with both hands, and wrapping thumbs and fingers around either side of the handles. Knees rather than backs should be bent and the machine held close to the body rather than with outstretched arms. And never use the machine above shoulder height.
  5. Be extra careful with the small stuff
    Most accidents happen when operators are clearing a path to the tree to be felled or when they are cutting branches off. In these situations, kickbacks are far more likely as the chain can inadvertently connect with branches and sticks that are not in the operator’s line of vision.
  6. Wear the right clothing

One of the most important lines of defence for chainsaw operators is personal protective equipment (PPE). Head to toe protection is critical so head protection, eye protection, hearing protection, gloves, chainsaw chaps or pants and safety shoes are non-negotiable. The right hearing protection is your top priority and while it should be sufficient to reduce the noise of the saw to acceptable levels, make sure you can still hear other people, trees cracking and other warning signals as this could save your life.

“Chainsaws are undeniably one of the best industrial inventions and are indispensable in several businesses and homes. We aim to equip Husqvarna customers with the best tools in terms of both efficiency and safety, so please contact your nearest agent who will happily assist by not only providing you with fit-for-purpose equipment - but training too,” concludes Mark.

For more information, go to: www.husqvarna.com/za



Husqvarna's new battery power tools for arborists

Husqvarna is set to give the forestry, garden and park management industry an exciting new choice in chainsaws with the release of two battery-powered options – the Husqvarna T540i XP® top-handle and Husqvarna 540i XP® rear-handle.

Used with the new Husqvarna BLi200X (T540i XP®) or Husqvarna BLi300 (540i XP®) batteries, the new chainsaws are a match for professional class petrol chainsaws, making them ideal for tree removals and smaller felling tasks.

With a completely redesigned and optimised system, they offer 30% more power compared to previous Husqvarna battery chainsaws, equalling the power of 40cc petrol chainsaws but with reduced emissions and vibrations.

The new top-handle T540i XP® offers superior cutting power for drop cuts of thick trunks and branches while being fast and nimble enough to take on smaller tasks. The 540i XP® rear-handle version has the same power and is a perfect all-round saw for any kind of groundwork.

The T540i XP® weighs 2.5 kg, without battery, chain oil and cutting equipment vs 2.9 kg for the 540i XP®.

Managing director of Husqvarna South Africa, Pieter Smuts, said: "We're confident these two chainsaws will set a new standard in South Africa and give arbour professionals the experience they've been waiting for in battery-powered chainsaws. With more power, greater manoeuvrability, superior ergonomics and a user-friendly interface you can get more done in a day with less effort."

Given that an arborist can work anywhere from ground level to 20 meters up and under all conditions, the saws are designed for versatility and easy handling. A newly-developed intuitive user interface allows for quick control, and balanced saw bodies provide the maneuverability needed for difficult cuts.

Benefits of battery
The T540i XP® and 540i XP® chainsaws start and stop at the press of a button and battery status is easily visible. A battery-powered chainsaw offers several benefits, including the absence of direct emissions, reduced noise and vibrations, reducing strain on the body. Depending on the charger, they can be recharged to 80% in around 30 minutes and to full power in under one hour.

To handle the rigorous demands of arborists, only premium light-weight materials and durable components were used in the manufacture of these saws. For example, the 540i XP features a magnesium crank case, clutch cover and bar mount as well as an aluminum front handle. Both chainsaws are weather resistant (according to IPX4 classification).

Both saws use Husqvarna's new SP21G X-cut chain, a semi-chisel 0.325" mini pixel chain with a 1.1mm gauge and low kick guard. The chain has been tailored specifically for the new battery chainsaws to cut quickly, smoothly and more efficiently. The chain produces less vibrations, has low kickback and is particularly good for a fast and easy bore cut.

"We're very excited to introduce these premium and durable battery-powered chainsaws to our market," said Pieter. “They're so easy to handle, easy to start and offer superior cutting power for even the most demanding tasks. As always our countrywide network of Husqvarna dealers is on hand to provide advice, assistance and spare parts as needed."

For more information, visit www.husqvarna.co.za

Taking sustainability beyond the balance sheet

Husqvarna SA Managing Director Pieter Smuts explains how their approach to sustainability goes way beyond the core business of supplying and supporting a range of land care equipment, and has become a way of life …

“When I returned to the forestry and garden division of Husqvarna three years ago, I faced a number of key business challenges. Back then, I decided that we were going to have to do things differently. You can’t simply continue as before and expect different results,” said Pieter Smuts, Husqvarna SA Managing Director.

“Some people have a perception that Husqvarna simply sells chain saws to cut down trees, ultimately damaging the environment. That is not true. We do a lot of work – globally and locally - to prevent that and to support sustainable businesses.

“In those earliest days when we were looking at how to take this forward, we used one of Husqvarna’s global studies entitled Urban Parks 2030 to help guide our decisions. This showed that our green spaces – gardens, parks and forests – were going to be more important than ever. The pandemic, lockdown and various health issues have taken this concept a step further, showing that green spaces are important for addressing issues like climate change, air and water quality and biodiversity as well as the mental and physical well-being of people.

“Respondents in that study noted that green spaces needed to be cared for differently and that those responsible needed to take a silent, non-invasive and sustainable approach. We have embraced this through our concept of Silent Nature™ and a range of quiet but powerful tools that include chainsaws, trimmers, brush cutters and blowers. These rely on efficient and long-lasting lithium ion batteries that produce lower emissions while eliminating noise pollution,” explained Pieter.

But these tools are also being used to tackle bigger issues and challenges.

“For instance our hand-held lithium ion powered chainsaws are now the tool of choice for the courageous conservationists who are de-horning rhinos to discourage poachers. They are not only easy to carry but powerful enough to get this process completed as quickly and quietly as possible with minimal trauma to the animal.”

Pieter said that Husqvarna has taken sustainability a step further by launching a veld management division that is providing both the tools and the technology to help farmers, nature and conservation organisations, landowners and land managers to deal with land management challenges.

“It is only now that we are experiencing the sometimes devastating results of over 100 years of bad practices. We can see that drought, changes in rainfall patterns, bush encroachment, encroachment by alien invasive plants and other contributing factors brought on by climate change have all but changed land use in sub-Saharan Africa. That is before we even begin to address issues like over-grazing, soil erosion and poor water management.

“We realised that many of our open spaces and grasslands no longer look the way they used to. In fact, many no longer exist and have been overtaken by bush and forests that should never have been there in the first place. Sadly, this includes both alien and indigenous plants and means that we now have a responsibility to intervene to restore them to what they were.”

It is easier to quantify the impact of these changes in land cover in a farming context. Fewer healthy grasslands means fewer animals and dramatically reduces both the carrying capacity and profitability of farms with important consequences for food security. You can express that in numbers.

But Southern Africa is also very much a country of game farms and conservation. In South Africa alone, there are approximately 12 000 registered game farms. Many are rehabilitated farms whilst others have experienced the impact of poor land management over the years.

“We opened our veld management division four years ago to advise rather than criticise, and now have tangible results and examples of what can be achieved. Under the expert eye of Divan Vermaak, a game ranger and veld management expert, we have created strong relationships within both the agricultural and conservation communities,” continued Pieter.

What started at Tala Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal with a small piece of land that was opened up and converted to grassland where more animals could graze, has now grown to involve far larger projects.

“For starters, we have undertaken a large project in Namibia, a country which is grappling with about 54 million hectares of encroachment. Similarly, massive bush encroachment has also taken its toll on both agricultural and conservation land in neighbouring Botswana.

“While we do see the business value of restoring thousands of hectares of high-value land that is now seen as almost worthless, we also know that we are doing far more than can be reflected on a balance sheet,” he concluded.

For more information, visit www.husqvarna.co.za

Rhino pic to come from Shakila …
The Husqvarna battery-powered saw painlessly and quietly removes a rhino’s horn to protect it from poachers.