One of the most common causes of injury when using a chainsaw is kick back. Kickback is when the chainsaw blade will rapidly jerk upwards, usually towards the operators face, and can cause serious, or fatal, injuries. Kickback is a constant concern for chainsaw manufacturers because of it’s inherently dangerous nature. All modern chainsaws come with a variety of technologies that attempt to reduce the potential for kickback, but no technology has managed to remove kick back completely. Reducing kickback is also the responsibility of the operator, and understanding why chainsaws kickback is the first step in reducing the risk of serious injury.
Where is the Kickback zone?
Chainsaw blades will face away from the user on the upper half of the saw, and towards the user on the lower half of the saw, where the chainsaw cuts. The region where kickback is most likely is the upper half of the saw at the end of the blade. When the saw is laid flat, the upper 45 degrees is known as the kickback zone. It is this area that is most likely to cause kickback during use.
Why does kickback happen
Kickback happens when the blades of the chainsaw get caught in the object being cut. The most likely cause of kickback is when the operator is cutting and the saw enters the object at the kickback zone. In the kickback zone, the least amount of downward force is applied. This means that, as the blades curve over the top of the saw, they get caught in object being cut. The relative lack of cutting force causes the blades to change from cutters into levers. The levers attach to the material being cut and force the blade upwards in a rapid motion. Needless to say this process happens in an instant, is incredibly dangerous and pushes the saw upwards with all the force that is in the motion of the chain.
How to reduce kickback
Now you know why, where and how kickback occurs you are best placed to avoid kickback. Because kick occurs in a specific region of the saw, the first thing to do is to avoid using the saw in the kickback zone. Avoiding the kickback zone will reduce the chances of kickback greatly, although not completely. Another reason for kick back is because the blades are not sharp enough. The less sharp the blade, the more likely they are to act like levers. Maintaining a sharp tool is paramount to reducing the chances of kickback. The final reason as to why kickback occurs and how to reduce it is by making sure the blades are the right way around. If you’re chainsaw chain is fitted the wrong way you will have a dull chainsaw that is very likely to kickback because it will be less sharp. Have your chainsaw checked regularly to make sure it is sharp, correctly fitted and ready to use. Always avoid the kickback area where possible and, most importantly, never stand directly behind the saw when using it.