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Terrible chainsaw accident (wrist guards?)

Post in 'The Gear' started by Mandoo, Oct 30, 2008.

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  1. Mandoo

    Mandoo Member

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    I live in a nice quite area in the middle of nowhere. Last night as I'm returning home the blue lights are flashing in my neighbors drive and I hear more sirens on the way (adrenaline starts flowing only three homes on our street). My wife is walking toward their house and I jump out and join her. As we approach, my neighbors wife is hysterical claiming her husband is dead behind the house and something about a chainsaw! I'm freaking out at this point thinking OMG now what, the million things that run through your mind all at once or is it called reality!

    1 local cop and 4 Sheriff deputy's were in the bottom as I started down one of them was on the way up and I asked about the situation his reply to the "is he alive" comment I made was "I'm no doctor but he was talking" I had to laugh at this point kind of a smart ass comment to break up the tension. He also said "there is a lot of blood" this ended up being an understatement!

    I'm going to fast forward past the drama My other neighbor and I cleaned up more blood than I have ever seen, I'm talking a huge deep pile that made us wonder what was left in him. We noticed an old Craftsman chainsaw on the floor and a tad bit of blood on it BTW we also found out it was a wrist injury I looked online last night about this type of injury and did find wrist guards but have to wonder if they were designed for older saws without the kickback safety features??

    BTW my neighbor is alive and recovering in the Hospital as I type this! But remember we first thought he was dead! So the point of this post PLEASE consider this as yet another safety issue. Please feel free to comment on wrist guards and if they are even necessary with newer saws I purposely kept this off the chaps thread to share my first hand witnessing of the carnage our saws are capable of and bring up the wrist guard question. I do not own the right safety equipment thinking I don't cut enough to bother. Before I start the saw back up I will be buying safety equipment, yes it could happen to anyone! One other thing I'm not too sure it's a great idea using the saw alone or without anyone home to help. From what I understand he laid down there long enough for hypothermia to set in as of now they think it might of kept him alive. I will update this thread as more info comes available.

    Off topic: last night I had to ask my wife if she would leave me for dead like that? Kind of shows how some handle situations under stress different than others!

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  2. sl7vk

    sl7vk New Member

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    That is horrible. How do you reckon he sawed his wrist? When you looked at the saw, I imagine the chain was still on it?
  3. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    I'd love to see gloves similar to the gloves I use to handle burning logs in the woodstove. I think they could design them so that they are practical to use (e.g. fingers pre-bent for gripping handle).
  4. Mandoo

    Mandoo Member

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    Yes chain was on and I have no clue? I'm looking forward to his recovery and input.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    For the life of me, I can't figure out how a chainsaw would get to your wrist. He would have to reach over the running saw to get there????

    Sorry to hear about your neighbor. May he have a speedy recovery.
  6. sl7vk

    sl7vk New Member

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    The only way I can think....

    Leaning in on a cut, left hand slips off of the grip, onto the top of the running chain.........

    Yuck.
  7. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    could be sl7vk, could also be operating with one hand for some reason- maybe adjusting a log for a cut with the other.

    It's too bad- probably a long recovery.
  8. oilstinks

    oilstinks Feeling the Heat

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    local firewood guy lost two finger when saw kicked back. Must have blocked the saw with had instinctively.
  9. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

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    Using a light weight saw, pulling the triiger with one hand and grabbing the small logs as they drop off?

    I must admit, I have done that from time to time. I once reached across the saw and had a flash in my head that it was a REALLY BAD idea to do that.

    Haven't done anything stupid like that since (from either side of the saw).
  10. caber

    caber New Member

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    There is a device out there - i think by New Zealand company - that fits on your chainsaw and you slide your left had into it. The idea is that in a kickback situation, the instinct is to let go of the saw and protect your face with your left arm. But if you keep our hand on the saw, you have more control and it is very likely your arm being where it should be will prevent the saw from hitting you. Also keeps the left had from slipping off and hitting a running chain. I think it was leather. But I cannot recall how I found it before. It was on a website somewhere.
  11. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Wow that was a real bad...he's fortunate to be alive.
  12. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    Closest I came to a major accident was a few months ago in the woods by myself after a rain. I always wait until the chain stops moving before I take a step to cut more. But for some reason my husky started to die as I was moving. I revved it a couple times and slipped on a wet branch landing on the ground with my face about an inch away from a turning chain. That's one my wife will never hear about!
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Definitely a bummer on the accident, and kudos on the decision to get some gear for yourself, but...

    I don't know how he managed to get his wrist - I'm thinking it almost has to be some kind of grossly negligent / unsafe use of the saw... According to the OSHA accident stats I've seen, the wrist is an area that doesn't normally get injured. This suggests to me that your neighbor had to be doing one of those sorts of things that fall in the "Paging Darwin" category of unsafe moves. Don't want to rank on the guy when he can't defend himself, but that's what it sounds like from your limited description.

    I've never seen any safety gear of the same sort as chainsaw chaps and such are made of for the wrists... I haven't gone hunting for it, but I think I looked through enough websites when I was shopping for my own gear that if there had been anythng that was in common use I would have seen it...

    Over on Arboristsite, they have an outfit that is selling what they call "Arm-chaps" - but those are made of black leather, and there have been some heated discussions about just how much protection they would actually provide. General concensus is that they probably wouldn't do much to stop a high speed chain, but that they MIGHT help in the case of a glancing contact with a chain that was coasting down or otherwise only moving slowly. The chaps are mostly sold on the basis of offering protection against scratching from moving branches and brush, and other non-saw injuries of that sort... They also claim to offer some level of wrist support.

    The idea isn't a bad one IMHO, though it's rather a strange look, think cross between Biker and Goth chick; however it isn't "saw protection"

    As far as the notion of working alone - NO it is NOT a good idea, indeed every list of things related to chainsaw safety will say not to work alone... In practice, I suspect there are an awful lot of people that DO work alone, and yes, some of them do pay a price for it... What I would suggest if you DO have to work alone (i.e. you either work alone, or don't get any work done..) then you do some things to reduce your risks -

    1. File a "flight plan" - Tell someone where you'll be, and when you expect to be back, and that if you aren't back by reasonably close to that time, they should come looking for you....
    2. Make yourself findable - mostly this is something to worry about if going into the woods...
    3. Carry a working cell phone or (if near the house) a cordless unit... (Know where you are enough to tell the 911 operator where you are as well...

    Gooserider
  14. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    I hope they get everything attached and functioning.

    My sister fell off a ladder in a greenhouse and her wrist got sliced to the bone by an open pane of glass. Was told she'd be fine and Doctors were rather amazed at 100% use of fingers afterwards. Supposedly lucky it was a nice straight even slice to the bone. No missing pieces of muscles / tendons.

    I don't like working alone with a saw, either. Especially out in the woods.
  15. Mandoo

    Mandoo Member

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    Follow up: He is fine and everything works! Expected to return home to his family on Saturday. They said something about being extremely hydrated and very lucky in regards to nerve damage and function. This is what happened, He slipped on a antifreeze or oil spill on the floor of course the saw was running. Thats it a simple accident that could happen to anyone at anytime!

    Thanks everyone for there input and especially the wrist protection info. I'm going to use the standard safety equipment and action/reaction style of thinking. I will never use a saw alone (NEVER) make your own choices but I'm telling you if you could of seen the carnage I saw it would scare anyone into common sense! (trust me I'm bullheaded)

    Once again thanks for the discussion and enjoy your Halloween. I know I already had mine! (lol)
  16. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    *thanks for the follow up info Mandoo...earlier today I was in the garage cleaning the saw and trying it imagine how it's possible to your wrist while running a chainsaw....now I know.
  17. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    safty equment a friend and cell phone is a must even before you buy the saw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(this story just reminds me to always wear it)
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Agreed, thanks for the update, and glad your neighbor will be OK soon.

    And again, not to pick on the guy, but I'm not sure I completely buy off on
    By definition an accident is an "unplanned event", but I can still see a number of serious errors here that contributed to the incident, and I think it's worth looking at in the interest of learning from the other guy's mistakes - something that is usually less painful than learning from one's own... %-P

    1. Working alone.... This wouldn't have stopped the accident, but MIGHT have gotten him help sooner, been able to do first aid, and so forth...

    2. Was his hand on the throttle when not cutting?

    3. Was he being careful to make sure each step is firmly planted before putting weight on it?

    4. Was he running the saw outside the immediate cutting area? (carry saw to cutting area, THEN start it... don't carry a running saw for distance. I like to think of it as a modified basket ball "travelling" rule - don't go more than 3 steps without making a cut or turning the saw off)

    5. Does the saw have a throttle interlock to keep the trigger from giving the saw gas unless the grip is fully grasped?

    6. How did he do the fall? When falling you either hang onto the saw tight with both hands, or throw it FAR away... (You don't CARE about damage to the saw at that point...)

    And so on...

    Gooserider
  19. Dill

    Dill Feeling the Heat

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    I've done the throw the saw technique. When you need to do it. Its split second thinking time and don't be afraid to chuck that thing as hard as you can. I got whacked in the back of leg with a sprung limb that I hadn't seen. I was falling forward and threw the saw away. It was fine. I was fine. If I had held on it might have got nasty.
  20. caber

    caber New Member

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    one of the top rules when running a saw. Always, always, always check your work area for potential hazards. I'm glad he's okay, but that accident was very preventable. He should not have been working around a spill. When we get complacent and comfortable, we get injured.
  21. Woodrat

    Woodrat New Member

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    Speaking from personal experience- it's "pretty easy" to cut your wrist, aspecially if you're working with a fairly powerful saw (372XP), long bar (24") and no brake--- saws like that have the power to just rip the top grip right out of your left hand when the saw kicks back---- then your left hand is "perfectly" positioned to be nailed by the saw. This happened to me after 40+ years of using saws.. Biggest problem with the injury turned out to be the nerve damage- they never reconnected, so half of my left hand is numb. Most of the older people I know in the tree business "in any capacity" tend to believe an accident like that won't happen to them...(until it does!)

    Best wishes--WOODRAT
  22. valleyflyfisher

    valleyflyfisher New Member

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    I made my living as a tree Faller up and down the coast of British Columbia for over 20 years and the single biggest factor for losing control during a kick back incident is not having your thumb under the handle bar. It is too inviting to lift it up on the top of the bar to rest your thumb/hand after using your saw for spell. But after seeing the after effects of a kick back that caught on a fallers wrist watch and nearly cut his hand off at the wrist, I never forget to keep my thumb firmly locked under the bar, at all times.
    An uncontrolled kick back, can and often does, cause your trigger finger to lift up on the trigger and rev the saw up real quick, but if you have control of your saw at all times, a stiff, or locked top arm, your thumb always firmly locked around the handle bar, even a sudden and violent kick back is usually fairly easily deflected to either side of yourself.
    I know form experience that chainsaw cuts do not leave much material for the Dr to sew back together, so be careful out there folks and always be conscience of were your saw tip is and keep your thumb were it belongs. :)
  23. crazy_dan

    crazy_dan New Member

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    If you are going to be walking engage the chain safety brake, it only takes rotating your left wrist a little and voilà the chain stops if not then you need to service your saw.
  24. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I have mixed feelings about using the brake like that, though it is probably safer than walking around with the brake off... Three major issues,

    1. Dolmar's manual seems to warn against running the saw very much with the brake on - they say it can lead to mechanical damage. Not sure how if the saw is just idling, but...

    2. I find it awkward to get the brake off... I haven't found a way yet that doesn't involve lots of fumble action... Either I have to let go with the left hand and pull the brake arm back (while trying to hold it up with the right hand on the rear grip) or let go of the rear grip with the right hand and try to pull the brake back while holding the saw on the center grip with the left hand, or some variant of passing the saw from hand to hand... All these moves feel clumsy to me, and make me feel like I'm less in control of the saw... It doesn't help that it's hard to hold on to the the center grip while pulling the lever back - since you have to pull back almost to the bar in order to latch the brake, my fingers get in the way... (If people have a solution to this, I'm open to suggestions!)

    3. Sort of a carry-over from the firearms world - Cooper's third rule of firearm safety - place limited faith in mechanical devices... It's a pretty safe bet that an engine that's off won't restart itself, but a brake can fail, get disengaged, etc. It's better to have it than not when you have to unexpectedly stop the chain, but I wouldn't want to rely on it to stop the chain from moving when I could shut the engine off instead...

    Others may disagree...

    Gooserider
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I just heard a guy who I know at work who has been doing tree work for years semi-pro, had a bad accident yesterday.
    Details are sketchy, but as far as I can tell, he cut an artery in his leg and some ligaments plus who knows what else.
    I heard he slipped, but who knows.
    It's freaky.
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