In 2005, the National Institutes of Health published a study reporting that occasional wood cutters experienced three times as many injuries as professional loggers. The results of the study were derived by contacting individuals who had visited a Wisconsin emergency room as a result of woodcutting injuries. The outcome of the study suggests that casual woodcutters everywhere may be at increased risk of injury when cutting winter firewood.
Cutting firewood is an inherently dangerous activity and our Asheville personal injury attorneys urge everyone who is cutting or splitting wood this winter season to be aware of the dangers and to follow some basic safety tips to minimize the risk.
Injuries from Cutting Firewood
Cutting winter firewood can take two forms: you may cut down or “fell” a tree and then chop the tree into firewood or you may cut up an existing downed tree to produce firewood. Felling is the more dangerous of the activities because you have the added risk of the tree falling on you and causing a crushing injury. Other dangers involved in either felling and cutting or in simply cutting firewood include the risk of:
- Amputation: When using a saw or an ax, there is a risk of cutting off your fingers, your arm or other limbs. Amputation may also be necessary if your limbs are crushed by a falling tree.
- Eye injury or blindness: Flying debris can get into your eyes, causing serious injury or blindness.
- Cuts, punctures or abrasions: A saw or an ax can cause cuts, punctures or abrasions as can contact with flying debris.
- Death: Death can result from a tree falling on you or from an accident with an ax or saw.
These injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, even to the most experienced tree cutters. However, the risk of injury is significantly greater if you are not familiar with tree cutting and if you do not follow all safety procedures.
Tips to Avoid Injury
While accidents can always happen, even a relatively-inexperienced woodcutter can be safer when splitting wood if proper safety precautions are used. The Natural Handyman provides a number of tips for cutting firewood more safely. These tips include:
- Wearing safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris or from exposure to sawdust.
- Wearing earplugs or other hearing protection when using a loud saw.
- Wearing clothing that allows you to freely operate the saw but that is not likely to become caught in the saw. Appropriate clothing may include overalls, a hat, gloves and boots.
- Have someone with you when you are cutting in case of accident. If you cannot have someone with you, have a cell phone very close to you.
- Watch out for tree limbs that are under tension and that could snap back when the tension is released by cutting.
- Keep your body parts clear from a running chain saw.
- Reading all operating instructions in the saw’s manual before beginning and following the instructions carefully.
- Understanding the entire wood cutting process, including the appropriate stance and technique to use.
Above all, if you have any doubts about your ability to cut firewood safely, get a professional to take on the job for you. Finally, remember that saws and other equipment can malfunction, even when practicing all appropriate safety procedures, causing serious injury or even death.
Contact the Spartanburg personal injury attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. if you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident. We offer free consultations to injured consumers in the Carolinas. Call 1-800-887-1965 to speak to an injury lawyer today.
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