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What safety features should I look out for on a chainsaw? Follow

Most chainsaws offer a range of safety features. These will include some or all of the following.

  • Top Handguard – this is situated at the top of the chainsaw, in front of the handle on the engine mounting, protecting your hand from a loose or broken chain whipping back.
  • Chain Brake  - this stops the chain moving by applying a steel brake band around the clutch drum. 
The Chain Brake is engaged by the top-hand guard being pushed forward and is either carried out manually by the operator when needed or is engaged automatically if kickback  occurs. (for further information see 'What is kickback')

Husqvarna models carry an extra chain-brake operation, with a link between the top handle and the chain brake trigger, so the brake is applied if saw's bar is forced suddenly upwards. This is called an  "inertia" chain brake. 

  • Chain catcher – this is built into the body of the Chainsaw and helps prevent the chain being flung backwards in the direction of the operator it breaks or is derailed
  • Safety throttle – this is a switch, placed by the rear handle of the Chainsaw, which has to be pressed in order for the throttle, and therefore the chain, to engage. This prevents accidental starting of the Chainsaw. 
  • Centrifugal clutch – this disengages the chain when the engine is idling, so the chain only moves when the throttle is fully squeezed and it cannot do damage when, for example being moved from one part of the cut to the next.       (N.B. this also saves fuel from being wasted)
  • Dead-man’s switch – a trigger (linked to the throttle) which is held down during use and if released will activate the chain-brake as well as de-activating the throttle 
  • Anti-vibration technology  - this counts as a safety feature since there can be quite serious health consequences from intense vibration over long periods.  It can affect blood circulation and cause debilitating effects; so Anti-vibration systems are generally included in good quality Chainsaws to reduce the potential strain and discomfort it can cause.
There are various types of anti-vibration system, ranging from the separation of the rigid bar and engine from the outer casing, the use of metal springs and rubber bushes to absorb vibration shocks and really high-end Chainsaws will can even be fitted with heated handles, which encourage good blood circulation. Some machines will have all these features.

Engineer’s Tip Keep a close eye on the very end of your chainsaw. If you can avoid touching anything with the tip of your saw, you will massively reduce the chances of kickback.

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