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What Are The Different Classes Of Chainsaw Clothing

At McCulloch we have been making chainsaws since the 1940's and are acutely aware of the dangers they can pose if not used correctly or safely. When dealing with powerful machinery being protected is of paramount importance. Before you pick up a chainsaw, make sure you’re up to speed on the type of clothing you need for the job at hand.

Dangers of working with chainsaws

Chainsaws have the capability to cause very serious injury or even death due to the speed that the chains spin at. The teeth are designed to cut through dense wood so you need to protect yourself. As with all powerful machinery the emphasis has to be on minimising risk at every opportunity.

Chainsaws can be heavy, so the operator will need to be in a reasonably fit and strong condition. If you have any conditions affecting your mobility, vision, dexterity, balance or alertness using a chainsaw may be too dangerous. If you are unsure be sure to seek further medical advice.

One of the major issues that comes from using a chainsaw is kickback. This is the practical example of basic physics; when the object in motion (the chainsaw blade) is stopped and the force behind it still supplying energy (motor or engine), there is an equal reaction in the opposite direction based on your grip on the chainsaw and the point of obstruction.

This can manifest as a sudden and fairly uncontrollable jolt that the chainsaw can have away from the wood you are trying to cut. The ferocity of the kickback is determined by how fast the chain was halted; stopped straight away and it will be a large kickback, slower and it will be just a small jolt.

How is the safety rating ranked?

Specialist chainsaw clothing is highly recommended to protect you from the unexpected. It could mean the difference between life or death.

To make things simple, safety clothing comes with a rating system to determine the chainsaw speed that these clothes were tested against, and therefore are suitable for. The rating system is based on the ability of the clothing to effectively stop the chain when it is running at different speeds.

When you look at chainsaw clothing you will see Class 0 up to Class 3. It is therefore important to understand the speed that your chainsaw spins before you purchase the safety equipment, as it is the speed determines what you will need. As a general rule here is what you would require for each class rating:

Safety Rating Chain speed m/s
0 16
1 20
2 24
3 28

What the different safety ratings mean in practice?

The faster the chainsaw chain can spin at max power the higher the safety requirements. This means that understanding the power capabilities of your chainsaw is extremely important.

The most powerful McCulloch chainsaw the CS 50S, which would be used for its brute strength for the most demanding jobs, has a chain speed of 24.1m/s so would require a rating 3 to be fully safe. The McCulloch CS 35S, which would only be used for light firewood chopping, would only require a max safety rating of 2 given its max speed is 22.8m/s.

As a result of all of the above it would depend on the type of work you are getting done. Professionals who cut down trees for a living will more than likely need the higher rating safety gear to handle their high power machines whereas an amateur who simply needs to chop some firewood will not require as high a rating. As the type of work would determine the type of chainsaw, the same will be true for the safety clothing.

5 types of protection you should be wearing

With all types of work with a chainsaw you need to make sure you are protected as much as possible. As a result there are a lot of items that you may need to get the job done. Chainsaws can pose a lot of safety issues such as kickback from the blade and if this catches on you without the correct protective equipment there will be serious consequences.

  1. Jacket And Trousers

    Jackets and trousers are the more obvious requirements before you get started. Regardless of the type of work, you need to make sure that you have the right gear so if you accidentally slip off the wood you don't have any problems. The clothes are designed to slow the chains speed and then clog the machine rather than protect the wearer completely so you will still need to take care when working.

    When it comes to chainsaw safety trousers there are additional ratings that you will need to be aware of. You can purchase Type A or Type C trousers to help you get the job done safely, this rating is based on the amount of protection that is offered.

    Type A trousers are designed to only protect the front of the legs. Traditionally these types of trousers are worn by users working with chainsaws on the ground where protection is only really required on the front of the trousers. Type C, however, gives protection all round the legs. The additional protection allows professional arborists or lumberjacks to saw in awkward positions whilst still having all round protection. If you are fairly new to chainsaws however you may prefer Type C to afford yourself the best protection possible.

  2. Shoes

    Buying the right boots is very important. Just like a house need foundations so it doesn’t fall over in strong weather so too do you need strong boots so you can have a strong base when working. Boots often have steel toecaps for extra safety. Before you purchase any boots for this you need to make sure they are marked as suitable for chainsaw use.

    When choosing your boots you will need to check that you have a strong and stable grip whilst also checking that there is protective guarding in the instep and the front.

  3. Helmet

    Helmets are designed so that they can protect your head from the chainsaw bar in the event of kickback. They will help deflect the bar and chain preventing damage and because chainsaw helmets comes with visors they will protect the users eyes from flying wood chips.

  4. Ear Protectors

    Regardless whether the ear defenders are part of the helmet and visor combination or not they are still an essential part of the chainsaw safety gear. The teeth from the chainsaw itself may not be the biggest danger however chainsaws can be quite loud, especially the petrol varieties. As a result it is highly recommended to invest in some ear protectors so you do not damage your hearing.

  5. Goggles

    Similar to ear protectors, you should always use something to protect your eyes when using the chainsaw, even if it does not come as part of the helmet. Debris from the wood can get thrown up during cutting and the last thing you want is some getting in your eyes as that can cause serious damage.

CS 42S
Cylinder displacement 42 cm³
Bar length (inch) 16 in
Weight (excl. cutting equipment) 5.2 kg
CS 50S
Cylinder displacement 50.2 cm³
Bar length (inch) 18 in
Weight (excl. cutting equipment) 5.9 kg