Author(s): Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Suva)
Editorial office: WSL, Switzerland
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Be a professional in your own woodlot

Do you give any thought to your safety and your health when felling trees or cutting firewood? A brochure helps owners of private forests, spare-time tree fellers, farmers and forestry workers to increase safety.

Fig. 1 - Do not attempt to saw with the tip of the guide bar as there is a risk of kickback of the chainsaw.
Fig. 2 - Forestry work involves particular hazards. There are often situations in which you need help. Never work alone!

The aim of the brochure is to:

  • Draw your attention to the dangers involved when felling trees and cutting firewood
  • Inform you about safety rules and safety measures
  • Encourage you to think about your own capabilities and limitations
  • Motivate you to pursue further training

The authors have deliberately omitted any precise descriptions of working techniques. These are best learnt in practical courses. Every type of tree and every situation is different and requires an individual approach. Only when taught by a qualified instructor will you learn how to assess specific situations correctly and to apply the safest working techniques. The normal working techniques and methods are described in the documentation distributed during courses of this type.

The brochure is not intended as a replacement for a tree-felling course. However, it briefly describes and shows what is of particular importance for your safety and your health when felling wood.


The brochure contains the following chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. Preparing for work
  3. Working with a chainsaw
  4. Extracting timber
  5. All about firewood
  6. Miscellaneous

The main sources of accidents

A look at the accident statistics reveals the following main points:

Sources of accidents Causes of accidents and their consequences
Felling trees: Accidents resulting from tree-felling affect the chainsaw operator, his helpers or third parties present. They often result in invalidity or death.
Using a chainsaw to debranch and crosscut logs:
The main causes of accidents are:
  • Failure to recognise tension or compression in branches and logs
  • Wrong positioning of chainsaw operator
  • Incorrect sawing technique
  • Inadequate personal protective equipment
Extracting timber with a winch and a tractor:
The main causes of accidents are:
  • Unsuitable and inadequately equipped winches and tractors
  • Presence of other persons in danger zones
  • Poor communication
Splitting logs with a splitting machine:
Injuries: Jammed and/or crushed fingers and hands
: Splitting machines that allow the user to reach between the splitting tool and the log
Sawing firewood with circular saws:
Injuries: Cut off and/or crushed fingers circular saws
Cause: Circular saws that allow the user to reach into the area of the saw blade
Woodchipping: Injuries: Limbs cut off, crushed and/or broken
: Woodchipping machines that allow the user to reach into the infeed rollers or blades

You can recognise a professional by his equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory for all chainsaw users. It is decisive that you always wear this equipment when working with a chainsaw. The equipment should consist of: zur Unfallminimierung ist, dass Sie diese Ausrüstung beim Arbeiten mit der Motorsäge konsequent tragen. Sie besteht aus:

1 Safety helmet  
2 Hearing protection  
3 Eye and face protection  
4 Protective jacket in a highly visible colour  
5 Protective nonslip gloves  
6 Protective trousers/leggings/chaps  
7 Rugged footwear with antislip soles  
8 First-aid material  
Protective equipment



  • SUVA
    Abteilung Arbeitssicherheit
    Bereich Holz und Dienstleistungen
    Rösslimattstrasse 39
    6002 Luzern
    Tel. +41 41 419 52 68

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