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Chainsaw Competition Safety Tips from the Columbia Forestry Dinner

We had a blast organizing a chainsaw competition at the Columbia Forestry Products Supplier Appreciation Dinner. Not only did our participants show off some serious chainsaw skills, but we had a great time celebrating the precision and strength it takes to operate these machines.

At Forestry Mutual, we know it's not all fun and games. According to occupational safety statistics, chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools used today, capable of causing lacerations, amputations, and even fatalities if not handled properly. That's why we're taking this opportunity to talk about some of the key safety precautions used in competitions like ours—and out in the field.


Key Safety Precautions for Chainsaw Competitions

One of the primary ways to ensure safety during chainsaw competitions is through the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Each piece of PPE is designed to protect different parts of the body from potential hazards associated with chainsaw use.

  • Helmets: Helmets protect the head from flying debris. A helmet with a face shield or safety goggles ensures both head and eye protection, which reduces the risk of injury from splinters or dust.
  • Gloves: Protective gloves not only guard against cuts and abrasions to the hands and fingers, but also provide a better grip, enhancing control and reducing the likelihood of accidents.
  • Eye Protection: Safety goggles or face shields protect against sawdust, wood chips, and other debris that can cause eye injuries. Clear visibility is vital for precision during competitions.
  • Chaps: Chainsaw chaps are made from cut-resistant material designed to protect the legs. In the event of a chainsaw slip, these chaps can significantly reduce the severity of injuries.
  • Footwear: Sturdy, steel-toed boots provide a solid footing and protect feet from heavy falling objects. Non-slip soles are also essential to prevent slips and falls during the competition.

Chainsaw Handling and Maintenance

In addition to PPE, proper chainsaw handling and maintenance are crucial for safety during competitions. Here are some essential aspects to consider:

Proper Handling Techniques

Competitors must be well-versed in the correct techniques for handling and operating a chainsaw. This includes understanding how to control the saw, how to make precise cuts, and how to handle the saw in various positions and angles. Proper handling reduces fatigue and minimizes the risk of slips or mishandling, which can lead to accidents.

Regular Maintenance Checks

Regular maintenance of the chainsaw ensures that it operates efficiently and safely. This includes checking the chain tension, sharpening the chain, and ensuring that all safety features (such as chain brakes) are functional. A well-maintained chainsaw is less likely to malfunction, thus reducing the risk of accidents during use.

Approved Fuel Containers and Refueling Practices

Only OSHA/DOT approved containers should be used for transporting fuel. Refueling should be done at least 10 feet away from any source of ignition, and the chainsaw should be turned off and allowed to cool before refueling.

Emergency Procedures and Protocols

Competitions should have clear emergency procedures and protocols in place. This includes having first aid kits readily available, trained medical personnel on standby, and clear communication channels for reporting emergencies. Having a well-thought-out emergency plan can mitigate the impact of accidents and provide immediate assistance when needed.

Risk Assessment

A thorough risk assessment should be conducted before any chainsaw competition. This involves identifying potential hazards, such as uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, and overhead obstacles, and taking steps to mitigate these risks.


In the end, when we adhere to proper safety protocols, use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and maintain chainsaws appropriately, we can minimize risks and ensure that we're able to enjoy competitions like these year after year. We're excited to see you all again next year!

Congrats to our winner, who took home a STIHL 462c.

Thank you to our own Loss Control representatives—Shawn Fulks and Greg Helton—and a special thanks to STIHL for sponsoring Forestry Mutual and this event.

To learn more about risk assessment, loss control and our involvement in the industry, visit or email us at