Chainsaw Safety Classes for Women

Women participate in a chainsaw safety class.

| September/October 2013

  • Chainsaw safety classes can be found through local extension offices.
    Photo By Fotolia/AK-DigiArt
  • Safety is the most important thing about operating a chainsaw.
    Photo By Fotolia/AK-DigiArt

Mention the word chainsaw, and you’ll generally get one of two responses: rapture or repulsion. The chainsaw is a high-powered, potentially lethal machine sold without a required operating license and sometimes without training guidelines. Many people feel much too intimidated to even think about running one, and with good reason. More than 165,000 injuries occur every year due to chainsaw accidents in the United States. Some prove fatal, which is why the word “safety” should immediately begin any conversation about chainsawing.

Operating a saw is an essential skill for maintaining land or cutting wood for heating season. Those gainfully employed in the lumber, logging and tree business are also comfortable with a chainsaw in their hands. Whether a weekend woodsperson or a professional cutter, proper training and guidance is essential for all first-timers, and luckily there are a number of safety courses available nationwide.

During a three-day chainsaw safety training program for women, I learned there are specific rules and procedures for the safe handling of a power tool with myriad whirling teeth, which need only the slightest inattention to turn dangerous and deadly.

The women-only class was proposed after co-ed classes had somewhat limited participation by some women who felt inhibited when it came time to handle the saw.

Without men in the class, it was thought that women would be more likely to engage their own questions, bodies and strengths, and challenge perceived limitations. One participant said, “I came because I had an interest and a need, and because the group was only women, I felt comfortable bringing questions and fears to the group.”

The course was targeted to female woodlot owners and other women who like to work in the woods. Fifteen of us between the ages of 18 and 72 gathered from 8:30 a.m. to noon on three consecutive Saturdays on a volunteer’s land in Falmouth, Maine.

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