Data from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS) indicates there are over 200 serious accidents relating to chainsaws and timber work annually.
The latest NFS indicated that timber cutting instruments, particularly chainsaws, made up 7% of accidents causing injury. This is an increase of 2.7% from the previous survey conducted in 2012.
The data also indicated that 20% of timber work accidents occur to people over the age of 70. In age categories up to 50 years of age, chainsaw and timber work accounted for 10% of accidents.
Adequate training and competence when operating a chainsaw is important. A lax approach to wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is a common factor contributing to such injuries. It is important the following PPE is worn and that all garments comply with European Standards (EN):
An all-in-one forestry helmet is a good option, as it contains both eye-face protection and earmuffs. Protective trousers are unlike a regular pair of trousers, as they have a special fiber lining. In the event of a chainsaw coming into contact with the trousers, the lining entangles in the chain, bringing it to a halt. Chainsaw trousers will typically cost from €70 to €100 and could be the difference in encountering a life changing injury or not. Gloves are important to wear for multiple reasons, providing protection from cuts, splinters as well as providing more comfort from high vibrations. Long exposure to vibration can cause both nerve and skin damage.
Full PPE gear may typically cost €400-€500, which may be a big investment but will, if minded, last for many years and has the potential to save huge medical fees in the event of an accident.
TIPS FOR WORKING A CHAINSAW
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY MACHINE OR ATTACHMENT COMES IN CONTACT WITH ELECTRICITY WIRES?
The following is an extract from the Farm Safety with Electricity booklet, which outlines practical advice on how to react if a machine or its attachment comes in contact with electricity wires. It could be fatal for anyone who touches the machine and it is important to remember that rubber tyres or rubber-soled boots will not insulate against a high-voltage shock. Boots can be destroyed and tyres can burst into flames.
Step 1: Keep Clear
Step 2: Get Help
Step 3: Jump Clear
Step 4: Stay Clear
Step 5: Safe Operation
At this time of year, it is important to be aware of the risk of fallen electricity wires. In stormy weather, expect the unexpected, especially when you may not see the hazard of low wires at night.
If there are trees near wires, contact ESB Networks beforehand. It may be necessary to switch out the power line before the trees or hedge can be cut safely.
When hedge-cutting, please remember to watch out for concealed parts of the pole and the stay wire. Always clear away near the pole by hand.
There have been too many incidents with tree felling where people have received serious electric shocks when the wires fell on them, so don’t take the chance.
Instead, contact ESB Networks in good time so that they can organize a visit to the site. Remember, if the line has to be switched out, customers have to be notified 10 days in advance of switching off the power.
At this time of year, check that the RCD/trip-switch is working by pushing the ‘test’ button and re-setting afterwards. This is an important safety device, located at the electricity board. It operates to disconnect supply when a fault with your equipment occurs.
In an emergency, or where you have a safety concern involving the electricity network, contact ESB Networks immediately on 1850 372 999.
See www.esbnetworks.ie for more or see the Farm Safely with Electricity booklet, available online, which highlights high-risk areas and features easy-to-follow advice.