After losing control of a chainsaw while trimming tree branches, a 49 year old man suffered serious injuries to his arms and upper body.
The man was on a ladder at the time, working at a north Melbourne residence. While working, he lost grip of the chainsaw, which resulted in the catastrophic injuries he sustained.
He was taken to hospital for emergency treatment, but sadly later died. WorkSafe are investigating his death.
A tragic reminder
This tragic incident is a reminder of the dangers of operating chainsaws. Each year, nearly 1,000 Australians are injured using these pieces of equipment – with an alarming number happening at work.
The most common injuries are:
- Cutting injuries from kick back, pull in or when sharpening the chain
- Crush and stick injuries from cut foliage or falling branches
- Striking injuries, specifically eye injuries, from flying debris and sawdust.
Clearly, there is insufficient planning and a lack of suitable controls in place when such accidents occur.
Improving safety when using chainsaws
Injury associated with the design of chainsaws has been significantly reduced thanks to the adherence of manufacturers to design standards such as AS2726.1 (2004 Chainsaws – Safety Requirements – Chainsaws for general use).
But even if safety features are fitted, it is important that operators use chainsaws correctly, and follow safe operating procedures.
As outlined in AS2727 (1997 Chainsaws – Guide to safe working practices). Some of the things an operator should consider include:
Do they have the necessary training and physical capabilities to do the work?
Do they need assistance from other people or any additional equipment?
Are they tired, fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or medication?
What are the current and predicted weather conditions? Extreme temperatures, heavy rain, lightning or strong winds can make chainsaw operation risky.
Are there any physical ground hazards such as undergrowth, stumps, holes etc that might hinder movement?
Are there any unsafe trees nearby? Look up! Are there any hanging dead or broken limbs overhead?
Who else is in the area? Be aware of other activity, traffic or machinery movements.
What are your workmates doing? Is there sufficient separation distance between the chainsaw operator and other personnel? Do not work alone, and maintain regular contact with other workers.
Is there other tree felling activity in the area? Ensure a minimum of at least two tree lengths of any tree felling activity.
Stay safe. Use Plant Assessor.
Before starting a job using dangerous equipment like a chainsaw, it’s important to ensure you’ve taken into consideration all of the potential hazards and assessed the risk.
Using Plant Assessor, operators can ensure all of the above questions have been considered, and that the piece of equipment is in good working order – and what to implement if something isn’t right.
Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. Please contact us for further assistance.