Chainsaws are motorized saws that can be cord driven or cordless and portable. Chainsaws are used frequently by forestry workers, search and rescue teams, and landscapers, and some chainsaws are specially designed to cut rebar and concrete.
Specialty chainsaws differ from their standard counterparts. These chainsaws do not have a cutting chain. Instead, they work with a series of vibrating and abrasive discs, usually covered with diamond or ceramic crusting. Typically they are hydraulic or gasoline powered, and the cutting area needs to be dampened for effective use.
Using chainsaws has an element of danger, as the saws can cause serious lacerations and injuries that could even require amputation in the event of a product failure or safety feature malfunction. Users must pay close attention to the blade at all times and keep a careful watch on fuel sources and parts to avoid injury. Though extensively lab tested, chainsaws can have defects and failures.
Chainsaws failures are generally caused by a failure in one of the moving parts or a faulty part in the construction of the chainsaw. Manufacturer failures are generally centered on specific parts that impact the functioning or safety features of the product. These may be related to keeping the chain in line with the guide bar or with keeping the chain from coming into contact with user skin after a kickback. The most common product failure, and one targeted by the CPSC, concerns the chain brake, which stops the chain motion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,000 people are injured by chainsaws annually. The tools consist of multiple moving parts that have the potential for injury, including sawing teeth, moving engine parts, a drive mechanism, a guide bar, and a chain brake. Many accidents can be avoided by wearing protective gear and performing regular chainsaw maintenance. However, even these safeguards may not be adequate enough to prevent some injuries caused by defects in chainsaws.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 472,900 chainsaws have been recalled since 2005. They all had defective parts that posed laceration, fire, or serious personal injury hazards to the consumer.
On October 30, 2008, Homelite Consumer Products, Inc. announced a recall of approximately 370,000 chainsaws, claiming that the chain brake could fail to stop on its first application and pose a laceration risk to consumers. The products were marketed through Home Depot from December 2007 to October 2008 and the recall was announced by the CPSC. Homelite urged consumers to stop using the saws immediately and contact the company for a free service kit. The recall involved model numbers UT10514, UT10516, UT10517, UT10518, UT10520, UT10540, UT10560, and UT10918. Products with a green dot on sticker under the bottom side of the handle area and on outside packaging are not subject to recall.
On November 28, 2006, the CPSC announced a recall of 76,000 Troy-Bilt and Craftsman brand gasoline chainsaws that were sold by various independent stores, home improvement, and hardware stores nationwide. The Craftsman chainsaws were sold at Sears and Kmart stores nationwide from January 2006 through June 2006. The Troy-Bilt chainsaws were sold between January 2004 and June 2006. MTD Southwest, Inc. claimed that these saws’ plastic front handles can break during operation. When this occurs, the saw becomes difficult to control and poses a risk of laceration. MTD received two reports of consumers losing control of their saws when the handles broke during operation. One consumer burned his fingers when touching the muffler after losing control of the saw. The other person reported bruising his elbow due to the loss of control. MTD Southwest told consumers to stop using the saws and contact MTD to receive a free service kit consisting of a replacement handle and installation instructions. The recall involved Troy-Bilt brand models 41AY00AR966, 41AY60AR766, 41AY90AR766, and 41AY08AR966, and Craftsman brand model number 316.350840. The model number can be found on the engine casing.
On January 11, 2006, Stihl, Inc., the leader of chainsaw development since the 1920s, announced a recall of 23,500 of its MS 192 T chainsaws. Several problems were found in the affected products, including an issue of the chainsaws leaking fuel which could create a fire hazard. In addition, the ignition grounding system could come lose and create a spark which poses a fire hazard. The springs in the clutch assembly could also come out of position, allowing the spring to be projected from the saw and possibly causing injury to the user. The affected chainsaws were sold through authorized Stihl dealers nationwide from January 2005 through July 2005. Stihl told consumers to stop using the chainsaws and return them to an authorized dealer for a free repair. The recall involved model number MS 192 T, with serial numbers 264371702 through 266087005. The model and serial number are located on the housing.