Operating a chainsaw can be dangerous. Chainsaws are powerful tools that must be handled with care to prevent serious injury. An important part of chainsaw safety is wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). But should you wear gloves when using a chainsaw? Here’s a look at the pros and cons, different types of chainsaw gloves, and when gloves are most essential for protecting your hands.
Gloves Are Highly Recommended for Chainsaw Use
While gloves are not necessarily required, they are highly recommended for most chainsaw use. The main benefits of wearing gloves while operating a chainsaw include:
- Vibration Dampening: Chainsaws vibrate significantly during use. Over time, this vibration can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome and other issues. Gloves help absorb vibration to protect your hands and prevent numbness or tingling.
- Minor Cut Protection: Gloves provide an extra layer of protection in case the chainsaw chain accidentally brushes against your hand or you come into incidental contact with the wood being cut. This can prevent painful minor cuts.
Some chainsaw users opt not to wear gloves because they prefer the feel and freedom of movement of operating a chainsaw with bare hands. However, the protection and safety benefits outweigh comfort concerns for most users. Thin, form-fitting chainsaw gloves allow dexterity while also protecting your hands.
Types of Chainsaw-Specific Protective Gloves
There are several types of safety gloves specially designed for use with chainsaws. Key features to look for include:
Chainsaw gloves are reinforced with materials like Kevlar, Dyneema, or synthetic fibers to prevent cuts from the chainsaw chain. Multiple glove layers provide even more cut protection.
Viscoelastic polymer gels or foams absorb vibration to protect from hand-arm vibration syndrome. This is an essential chainsaw glove feature.
For working outdoors in wet weather, water-resistant glove materials prevent hands from getting wet and cold while also retaining grip and dexterity.
Brands like Youngstown and Oregon make specialized chainsaw gloves meeting these criteria. The right chainsaw gloves balance protection with comfort and flexibility for safe operation.
Wearing Gloves is Especially Important With No Chain Brake
Chain brakes are safety mechanisms that stop the chainsaw chain immediately if kickback occurs. Older chainsaw models may not have chain brakes. On such models, protective gloves are even more crucial to prevent injuries in case of accidental contact with the moving chain. Modern chainsaw gloves provide cut resistance that makes up for the lack of a chain brake.
So while heavy duty work gloves offer some protection, specialized modern chainsaw gloves truly maximize hand safety according to today’s standards.
Essential Chainsaw Safety Gear
In addition to gloves, there are several other vital personal protective equipment components required for safe chainsaw operation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that chainsaw operators working in industries like logging wear specific safety gear including:
- Hard Hat: Protects the head from falling branches or other overhead hazards.
- Eye Protection: Safety glasses or goggles protect eyes from sawdust and wood chips.
- Hearing Protection: Chainsaw noise can cause hearing damage without proper earplugs or muffs.
- Leg Protection: Chainsaw chaps or pants prevent cut injuries to the legs.
- Proper Footwear: Sturdy boots with nonslip soles and steel/composite toes protect the feet.
A chainsaw helmet with integrated visor and ear protection provides complete coverage in one piece of safety gear. Chainsaw chaps overlap with boots to seal gaps. Built-in cut resistance protects the legs. Proper personal protective equipment enhances chainsaw safety from head to toe.
Types of Chainsaw Helmets
Chainsaw helmets shield your head from falling debris while also incorporating face shields and ear muffs:
- Mesh Visors allow maximum visibility and ventilation.
- Polycarbonate Visors offer robust impact protection.
- Integrated Ear Muffs provide hearing protection without wearing separate ear plugs.
The helmet should fit comfortably and securely to protect properly. Regular inspection and replacement of worn helmets prevents compromised safety.
Chainsaw Chaps and Pants
Chainsaw chaps are vital to prevent severe leg injuries from accidental contact with the saw chain. Key features include:
- Cut Resistance: Made of materials like Kevlar or ballistic nylon to stop the chainsaw chain without cutting through.
- Snug Fit: Chaps must fit properly around the legs to effectively stop the chain upon contact.
- Water Resistance: Features like Scotchgard protect in wet conditions while retaining breathability.
Rather than separate chaps, full chainsaw pants offer protection all the way down each leg. For maximal leg protection, choose chainsaw chaps or pants designed to overlap with your boots.
Chainsaw Boots For Secure Footing
Proper footwear enhances safety when operating a chainsaw:
- Steel or Composite Toe: Protects the feet from impact injuries if a log rolls onto your foot.
- Firm Ankle Support: Prevents ankle rolls on uneven terrain.
- Deep Lug Soles: The deep tread provides traction on slippery surfaces.
Waterproof leather upper material sheds rain and snow while remaining breathable. Proper sizing ensures a snug fit. Chainsaw boots keep your footing secure to prevent slips or falls.
Proper Chainsaw Handling Techniques
In addition to protective gear, proper handling technique maximizes chainsaw safety:
- Secure Stance: Keep your balance with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Two-Hand Grip: Firmly grasp the rear handle with your right hand and the front handle with your left hand.
- Clear Surroundings: Ensure no trip hazards are nearby before starting the saw.
- No Drop Starts: Lower the chainsaw blade to the ground before pulling the starter cord to avoid losing control.
Correct grip, stance, and starting technique prevent accidents and injuries. Chainsaw gloves enhance your grip security further.
Well-maintained chainsaws are essential for safety. Be sure to:
- Regularly Inspect: Check for damaged parts or chain dullness. Replace worn components.
- Properly Tension the Chain: Adjust to the manufacturer’s specifications. Loose chains increase kickback risk.
- Sharpen the Cutters: Use a file and depth gauge tool to restore a sharp cutting edge.
- Clean the Saw: Remove sawdust, sap, and debris regularly to prevent operational issues.
Taking proper care of your chainsaw ensures dependable performance and helps prevent hazardous malfunctions or kickback.
Formal Chainsaw Safety Training
Learning how to safely handle a chainsaw takes proper training and education. Options include:
- Online Courses: Affordable introduction to basic chainsaw safety and use.
- Hands-On Classes: Gain firsthand experience under trainer supervision.
- Certification Programs: Develop advanced skills for professional needs.
Even experienced chainsaw users benefit from regular refresher training on updated safety protocols. Proper training helps develop safe habits and prevent injuries.
While chainsaw gloves are not necessarily mandatory, they provide important protection and are highly recommended for most users. Specialized cut-resistant gloves allow dexterity while also absorbing vibration and dampening impact. But gloves are just one part of complete chainsaw safety gear needed to prevent serious injuries.
Chainsaw chaps, boots, helmets, and additional PPE provide critical protection as well. Combining protective equipment with proper handling technique, maintenance, and training helps maximize your safety when operating a chainsaw. The right preparation can mean the difference between a safe, successful chainsaw job and a dangerous accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other PPE should I wear when using a chainsaw?
In addition to sturdy gloves, OSHA recommends wearing a helmet, eye protection, hearing protection, chainsaw chaps or pants, and proper footwear when operating a chainsaw to protect your head, eyes, ears, legs, and feet from injury.
How do I choose the right chainsaw gloves?
Look for gloves specifically designed for chainsaw use, with features like cut resistance, vibration dampening, and water resistance. High-quality materials like Kevlar and brand names like Youngstown offer good chainsaw hand protection.
Are there any situations where gloves are not necessary?
Some users may choose to operate smaller chainsaws with a chain brake without gloves, for comfort. But gloves are still highly recommended for the protection and features they provide, even on saws with a chain brake.
How do I maintain my chainsaw for safe operation?
Regularly inspect, clean, and sharpen your chainsaw. Check for damaged parts and replace as needed. Proper chain tensioning according to the manufacturer’s specifications also helps maximize safety and performance.
What should I look for in chainsaw boots?
Composite or steel toe boots with deep lug soles for traction are best for chainsaw use. Waterproof leather uppers help keep your feet dry as well. Proper sizing and ankle support are also key factors when selecting chainsaw footwear.
How can I improve my chainsaw handling techniques?
Seek out professional chainsaw safety training and certification courses to learn proper stance, grip, starting techniques, and safety protocols. Even experienced chainsaw operators benefit from regular training on the latest safety best practices.
Are there any alternatives to chainsaw gloves for hand protection?
While heavy-duty work gloves provide basic protection, they lack specialized features for chainsaw use. Chainsaw-specific gloves like those made by Youngstown offer superior cut resistance, vibration control, and dexterity for safe operation.
Michael Boyle is the founder and main author of Chainsaws Finder, boasting over 20 years of experience in the chainsaw industry. Hailing from Texas, Michael combines his extensive knowledge and hands-on expertise to provide reliable advice and top-notch service. His vision is to empower chainsaw users to tackle any project with confidence, making Chainsaws Finder a trusted resource in the field.