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Chainsaw safety video launched

Up to 4 per cent of farm workplace deaths and an estimated 6.5 per cent of injuries are associated with chainsaw and timber-related work, according to Teagasc. This has led to the recent launch of a new chainsaw safety video designed to educate users with the knowledge and skills necessary to operate chainsaws effectively and safely

Up to 80,000 chainsaws are used on Irish farms and these machines vary in their safety standards depending on their age and associated state of repair. The new safety video, presented by Arthur Kierans, machinery training technician at Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Co. Cavan, informs the viewer that safe chain sawing and timber work is a combination of:

  • Having adequate knowledge and skill;
  • Having a modern chainsaw with up-to-date safety devices;
  • Wearing chainsaw PPE; and
  • Using safe techniques.

Teagasc health and safety specialist, Dr John McNamara adds that while the video looks

at approaches and techniques for small-scale timber work, a specialist contractor should be used for large-scale chain-sawing jobs.

In 2021, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) reported one fatality relating to chainsaw use and have reports of 39 serious incidents/injury involving chainsaws over past 10 years across all sectors. However, this figure is likely to be higher due to low reporting of injuries.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for farm safety, Martin Heydon launched the video and in doing so, commended the practical information it contained for farmers. “Chainsaws are common tools found across many farms, but when used incorrectly they can prove deadly. The video highlights the necessary safety measures needed when undertaking this

hazardous work activity. I urge every farmer who uses a chainsaw to view this video to review the safety standards of their chainsaw, its maintenance, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for chain-sawing before any timber related task is undertaken.  Most importantly, consider your skill and competence with timber work and seek training if necessary.”
Teagasc director, Professor Frank O’Mara, said: “This video not only educates but empowers chainsaw users to tackle their tasks with confidence, knowing they have the knowledge and skills to operate their chainsaws safely.” He particularly thanked FBD Insurance and the Farm Safety Partnership advisory committee to the HSA for support with production of the video, which can be viewed on the HSA website.

Chainsaw injuries involve cuts and lacerations to the limbs, neck, head and trunk. The major cause of timber-related fatal accidents is being struck by falling trees or branches while felling trees. Appropriate training in chainsaw use and the wearing of suitable protective clothing to protect against these injuries is essential.

Risk assessment

The HSA advises that you must complete a written risk assessment of the work to be completed prior to starting it. This risk assessment should list the hazards that may cause harm and detail the control measures to be taken to ensure safety.

Step 1: Identify hazards

Start by identifying the hazards involved in the work activity to be undertaken and the hazards at your workplace. A hazard is simply anything that can cause harm to you, your employees or other persons. Identify where and how people could come to harm.

Step 2: Determine the level of risk

Assess if people could be harmed and how serious the injury (harm) could be.

Step 3: Put in controls and inform

Decide what you are going to do to eliminate or control the risk to make the task safer for you, your employees and other people around you. Advise all involved in the work on the control measures to be followed.

Personal protective equipment

According to the HSA to protect against fatalities or life-changing injuries, in addition to appropriate training, it is important that

suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn when using a chainsaw.

PPE cannot provide complete protection against cuts or other injuries while operating chainsaws, but should provide protection against serious life-changing injuries. Using chainsaws also exposes operators to high levels of noise and hand-arm vibration, which can lead to hearing loss and conditions such as vibration white finger. It is also important to understand that PPE doesn’t protect you against falling trees. Chainsaw operators should refer to the manufacturer’s handbook for safety instructions and advice.

The following safety equipment should be used:

  • A safety helmet (to conform to EN 397), suitable eye protection (visor to EN 1731) or safety glasses (to EN 166) and ear defenders (to EN 352);
  • Chainsaw gloves with protective pad on the back of the left hand, leg protection incorporating clogging material (EN 381-7);
  • Safety boots with steel toecaps with good grip (EN 381/345);
  • Non-snag close-fitting outer clothing;
  • Chainsaw trousers (EN 381-5);
  • No personal protective equipment can ensure 100 per cent protection against cutting by a hand-held chainsaw.

Free online farm safety training in November

FRS Training has partnered with farm families, Health and Safety Authority, Irish Farmers’ Association, Teagasc, FBD Insurance, and FRS Network to launch ‘Farm Family CPD – Online Farm Safety Training’ for Irish farmers. The training aims to affect attitudes and behaviours to reduce the level of on-farm fatal and non-fatal incidents. This training is available free of charge as a result of the funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Initiative.
Farm families are at the core of this initiative.

For the first time, training is designed not only for the principal farmer but specifically for all people over 12 years of age living on farms. Training is farmer friendly, family friendly and can further develop the capacity for behaviour change on farms. Farm families can work from home, at the kitchen table and assess their farm health, safety and behaviour practices while completing training essential to their wellbeing.

There are five courses to choose from:

Running a Safer Farm for Farm Principals;

Keeping Yourself Safe for 12–16-year-olds;

Keeping Yourself Safe for Over 65s;

Keeping Yourself Safe for Employees and Non-Paid Farm Workers;

Managing Dangers – Livestock, Machinery and Buildings: Essential Safety for Everyone Living and Working on the Farm.

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