Chainsaw injury from thrown or broken chain

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ben94122

Burning Hunk
Sep 4, 2017
140
California
I saw a patient the other day who had a perianal injury from a chain thrown off his saw, and now I think about it every time I use my saw. Do newer saws have some kind of safety mechanism to prevent a broken chain from being thrown at the user? I tend to sight down the bar when I'm cutting, but don't want that chain thrown into my face, or between my legs. I didn't ask him what kind of saw he was using; he was in too much pain.
 

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,373
Western Washington
Nothings changed for a long time. Some saws have a little gadget to help keep it from cutting a hole in the gas tank. I remember going through a couple tanks before they put it on there. I worked with a guy that had a nasty scar on his neck from throwing a chain off a 3 ft bar while cutting some brush out of his way above his head. Rule of thumb is never back bar brush and keep the saw at an angle away from you for anything above your head. I’ve got a couple scars on my legs from throwing/busting chains back when we never wore chaps
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,285
Palmyra, WI
Usually when a chain is run off here it's when snipping brush out of the way. And usually when not using the last 1/3 of the bar to do it. I'm more conscious of that the further I am from the truck because I don't usually carry tools around for working on fixing the chain. It has always just slipped off, and hasn't yet flailed back in my direction. The main equipment here is an 18" bar with a fairly low powered saw. Broken chains - wonder how often that happens. I try not to be in line while cutting, but it's tough to keep in mind if I haven't seen a break, or know of no-one who has. I remember a chainsaw competition once, where the guy was using a high powered saw, looked like an aircraft engine with a bar. Powered through a 2ft log in a few seconds. The crowd was forced to clear away anywhere near in line with the cut.
 
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Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,373
Western Washington
What happens a lot is where a guy over flattens the repair link when they’re building the chains at a saw shop. I have ran into a bad roll where the link itself broke. It’s fairly common to flip or break a chain, nothing to loose sleep over as long as your not slashing brush above your head. You can even roll a chain back on the bar if it’s 28 or longer
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,693
Northern NH
My husky XP has an aluminum post that in theory reduces the damage from loose chain. It worked for me when I had my chain run off the bar.
 

Tar12

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2016
1,825
Indiana
All of my stihl saws have the chain catcher on them..it does its job of catching the chain and has worked everytime.
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
709
SW Ohio
it does its job of catching the chain and has worked everytime.
Agree. I have seen proof of its efficacy from the cut marks on the aluminum chain catcher. Rarely happens to me as I run short bars and chain and they are less apt to get thrown. For me typically throw a chain when clearing clearing brush.
Madsens chain derailure

It's tempting to look down the cut while cutting, but keep your head and body out of the plane of your cut. Treat it as if you were looking down a gun barrel.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
7,693
Northern NH
It only worked once for me due to loose chain jumping out of the bar but that was enough. I keep a real close eye on chain tension and condition. Knock on wood, I have never had a chain break but I always buy the premade loops rather than bulk chain.
 
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Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,745
Midwest
I've thrown a chain a few times. Never broke one, but thrown the loop off. It just ended up in somewhat of a tangled ball in front of the saw. No bodily injury. I've become a bit more attentive to chain slack/adjustment and haven't had any derails in recent times.

The thought of a fully broken chain has crossed my mind from time to time, but I guess I accept it in the same way I accept that I may be in a car accident driving to/from the wood lot. Essentially - chances are pretty low, though they are not zero.

Must admit, though... 'perianal' would be about the last place I'd expect to be injured by a flying chain. I could probably insert some joke here about "California" and "Are you sure he was cutting wood when injured?" but I won't. ;)
 

Nealm66

Minister of Fire
Sep 25, 2020
1,373
Western Washington
If you throw a chain and it makes a burr on a driver so it won’t slide in the rail, slack the chain way loose and give it a couple revs, cleans it right up. I just finger tighten the bar nuts it works so fast
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,014
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
My dolmar has the chain catcher too. Works great and I’ve never broken a chain. I don’t cut overhead so the only reason I fear a chain loss is that it will slow work down or damage a cutter on the chain catcher.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,593
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I thought just about all of the new saws had chain catchers -- Stihl, Husky, Jonsered, etc. I hate to admit it, but I've thrown a chain a few times over the course of my life . . . and as mentioned usually it just fetches up with no injuries.
 

TradEddie

Minister of Fire
Jan 24, 2012
970
SE PA
My dad never wore eye protection, helmet, chaps, steel toes nor even gloves, but possibly the only chainsaw safety advice he ever gave me was that I should be able to read the brand on the side of the bar at all times. That way, my face would be out of the way of a broken chain, and I suppose more importantly, not in line with a kickback either.
Luckily I've never had a broken chain, I did once have one come off, but it was unremarkable, that saw had a plastic chain catcher which must have done its job.

TE
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,285
Palmyra, WI
but possibly the only chainsaw safety advice he ever gave me was that I should be able to read the brand on the side of the bar at all times. That way, my face would be out of the way of a broken chain, and I suppose more importantly, not in line with a kickback either.
I'll remember that. Thanks.
 
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PaulOinMA

Minister of Fire
Oct 20, 2018
1,331
MA
Yes. Thanks.
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,876
Northern Canada
Pretty tough to get hit by a broken chain if you are above the saw.
Momentum of the chain will throw it away from the top of the bar.
Thats why the chain catcher is on the bottom of the bar by the saw,momentum will take the chain to the chain catcher
 

ben94122

Burning Hunk
Sep 4, 2017
140
California
Pretty tough to get hit by a broken chain if you are above the saw.
Momentum of the chain will throw it away from the top of the bar.
Thats why the chain catcher is on the bottom of the bar by the saw,momentum will take the chain to the chain catcher

That's why this injury bothered me so much: it was in an area not protected by chaps, and I don't think there is protection against a broken chain getting thrown back at the user from underneath the bar. I'm picturing the chain breaking as it is being driven through the drive sprocket, then that top end of the chain is free while the other end wraps around the chain catcher, whipping the free end between the operator's legs?

Sounds like it is an uncommon injury, though.