Chainsaw Accidents Injury Stats: How Dangerous are Chainsaws?

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Nobody wants to imagine being injured while using a chainsaw, but the reality is it happens more than you think. And while it’s true that these tools have safety features, it doesn’t take away the risk of operational accidents. 

Rather than living in fear, we listed some chainsaw injury stats and safety recommendations to manage your expectations on this tool. 

Table of Contents

Recent Statistics on Chainsaw Injuries and Accidents

According to CDC, the annual chainsaw-related injuries in the US reached approximately 36,000 cases. You may not know, but the overall medical cost of these incidents has already mounted up to $350 million per year. 

In fact, even the Washington Post reported the alarming increase in accidents caused by chainsaws since the pandemic started. CNN and CBC have also reported similar accidental cutting and leg injuries caused by the tool in 2021 and 2020, respectively. 

person starting a Coocheer Chainsaw 62CC 20-inch Gas Powered Chainsaw

Although recent statistics for chainsaw injuries are hard to come by, there were 282,000 emergency hospital visits related to these accidents recorded from 2010 to 2019. However, it’s crucial to note that only 6% of the annual count are severe cases that lead to hospital admission.

Chainsaw Lacerations

These tools are often used for cutting already fallen trees or branches, so the accidental lacerations are more frequently seen on the operator’s middle and lower extremities. But if you’re using a chainsaw for tasks like bucking and limbing, upper-extremity lacerations are more likely if faced with mishaps. 

If you check the emergency records caused by chainsaw lacerations, you’ll see that 33% of these accidents lead to hand and finger injuries. 

Lacerations to the knees and lower leg are also more frequently seen in chainsaw accidents. So far, only one percent of these injuries result to complete body part amputations. 

Who are the Most Affected?

If you ask our power tool experts, chainsaw users are separated into two categories: the professionals/tree workers and the homeowners. Because of the skill and experience level, the way these users are affected by chainsaw injuries is slightly different.

person operating a Husqvarna 20-inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw

Chainsaw Professionals

These users are often referred to as “tree workers” because they’re skilled and trained in removing and pruning trees. Compared to homeowners, chainsaw professionals are more prone to arm injuries than leg lacerations as they’re often geared with proper leg protection. 

Homeowners

Users who engage in DIY tree pruning and removal are also at risk of chainsaw injuries. Not only because they don’t have enough experience handling the tool but also because some opt not to wear proper safety gear. 

According to our team’s gathered data, homeowner users often suffer injuries in the left arm, hand, or finger regions. Sometimes, they accidentally cut non-users that hold the branches for them. 

Injuries Treated in the Hospital

Whether you’re a professional or a newbie, severe injuries that require amputation should be treated in the hospital. Most of these critical lacerations are located in the left hand. 

injury treated at hospital

As for right hand and finger amputations, these cases are often observed in non-operator victims. Other chainsaw injuries that could result in hospitalization are burns and fractures. 

Injuries Treated at Home

You may consider cleaning and dressing the wound yourself if the lacerations aren’t jagged and deep. However, we’d like to note that these cuts are exposed to dust, wood chips, and other debris. Because of this, treating wounds at home could lead to infection if not done properly. 

Causes Of Chainsaw Accidents

More than anything else, kickback is the main culprit in most chainsaw accidents. It’s a sudden chainsaw movement and tends to charge toward the user’s direction. 

chainsaw kickback

This incident may happen when the saw blade is tipping or pinching something that it shouldn’t. Additionally, not wearing safety garments could also cause more severe chainsaw accidents.

How Many Deaths Per Year?

Accidental chainsaw injuries very rarely lead to death. When it does happen, these incidents are typically due to improper tool handling and not wearing the correct safety garments. 

Fatalities also arise from falling from trees or being hit by falling trees. Besides that, getting caught in between wood chips and electrocution from power lines during the operations can also result in chainsaw-related deaths. 

XtremepowerUS 22-inch 2.4HP 45cc Gas 2-Stroke Chainsaw

According to recent OSHA reports, there are approximately 250 chainsaw-related deaths yearly. Most of these fatalities are caused by kickbacks during usage. 

Some may think it’s a small number because over 3 million new chainsaws are sold annually in today’s market. However, it’s hard to ignore that this fatality count is significantly higher than other widely used power tools. 

How to Prevent Chainsaw-Related Injuries and Accidents

Safety Training

If you’re professionally employed to do tree trimming tasks, OSHA’s fact sheet says that you should adhere to proper work procedures and requirements. Proper safety training also makes you well-versed in handling specific hazards you’ll undoubtedly face when accomplishing regular cutting tasks. 

PPE and Other Safety Gears

To reduce your exposure to dangerous hazards, wearing personal protective equipment or PPE is a must[1]. Don’t forget to wear safety gear that protects your head, ears, eyes, legs, feet, and hands to avoid severe injuries. 

Preparations Before Cutting

Before you begin the cutting operations, we urge you to check if the unit’s chain tensioning is working. It will also help if the handles, bolts, and controls are checked for proper usage. 

checking chainsaw before cutting

And if you want quality cuts, ensuring the chain is sharp and well-lubricated should fulfill your needs. 

Essential Safety Tips and Reminders

Although chainsaws are power tools that carry many risks, practicing caution is the only key to leveraging their perks. Here are some tips we recommend to continue a safe chainsaw operation in the long run. 

FAQ

How common is chainsaw kickback?

Chainsaw kickback is the most common cause of injury when using this tool, and it can happen in a snap. This incident often occurs when the chain tip hits an object it shouldn’t have or if the material pinches the chain mid-cut. 

How many chainsaw injuries occur annually?

Approximately 36,000 chainsaw injuries occur annually, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These accidents very rarely lead to deaths but may lead to amputation or hospitalization.

Where is the most likely place for a struck by injury to occur to the chain saw operator when felling a tree?

The most likely place for a struck by injury to occur to the chainsaw operator is in their lower arm and hands. 

What are the most common chainsaw accidents?

The most common chainsaw accidents are caused by kickbacks. This safety hazard occurs when the spinning chain halts due to contact with a more solid material, prompting the chainsaw to throw itself backward and hurt the operator. 

What are the examples of chainsaw hazards?

The examples of chainsaw hazards are kickback, amputation, hearing loss, muscle fatigue, and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

How safe is a chainsaw?

A chainsaw is safe if used correctly by a well-versed operator. It’s also crucial to wear protective clothing suited for chainsaw activities to prevent unprecedented accidents. 

Can a chainsaw cut through clothing?

Yes, a chainsaw can cut through clothing, especially if kept clean and sharp. However, you’ll find safety gear products that can halt chainsaw blades to protect the operator from injury. 

Conclusion

After examining the chainsaw injury stats, it’s clear that these tools require not only skill and experience but also extreme caution and proper safety gear. 

Even if you’re not a chainsaw professional, trust us when we say that being well-aware of this tool’s hazards will help you stay safe during usage and utilize it to its full potential. 

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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