What kind of face protection do I need when using a chainsaw?
Working with chainsaws is a potentially hazardous task that necessitates the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of injury, particularly to the eyes and face. OSHA guidelines require the use of both eye and face protection when there is such a hazard present. The requirements state that “where there is sawdust, chips, or flying particles presenting hazards to the employee, the employer must provide and require all the workers to wear face protection," (learn more about what protection employees need in Employee Rights: What PPE Does My Employer Need to Provide?).
There are several options out there that can effectively protect your face from potential hazards in chainsaw operations.
- Safety Glasses or Goggles—safety glasses or goggles are extremely helpful in protecting your eyes from flying debris and dust during chainsaw operations.
- Eye Protection Mesh Visor—like goggles and safety glasses, an eye protection mesh visor protects your eyes from flying debris and dust when you are working a chainsaw. When selecting a mesh visor, however, consider the hazards that can be caused by the reduced quality of vision when wearing the protection. Choosing clearer mesh visors is important for improved visibility.
- Headgear/helmet—face shields are normally worn with headgear in chainsaw operations to protect the worker’s head against the hazard caused by the cutter bar of the chainsaw in case of a kickback. A kickback is a sudden upwards and backward movement of the chainsaw towards the user caused by the chain nose hitting an object (such as a metal). This hazard accounts for a considerable proportion of chainsaw accidents (learn about other potential workplace hazards in The Top 5 Causes of Disabling Injuries in the Workplace).
You should always wear a protective chainsaw helmet complete with protective face gear during chainsaw operations. In the case where you choose a helmet without face gear, safety eyewear is essential. The face gear, goggles, visors, or safety glasses you choose will protect your eyes from long-term eye damage and possible loss of vision if materials (such as saw dust and wood chips) rebound off your face while working.
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