Emergency Action Plans...

Would you know what to do if something bad happened to a colleague? What if something bad happened to you? Would you trust that others around you would know what to do?

If you're not sure about that, then a little emergency action planning can go a long way to alleviating problems that might arise. The idea is to write down a few important things so that in the event of a serious injury everyone will know the key information to assist in dealing with the emergency.

The most obvious is to jot down your location, and there are several methods available to you for doing so. If you are stuck out in the woods, in the middle of a field or somewhere where there may not be an obvious address, you could use a grid reference or latitude / longitude. If you're working at a known address, then make sure all know what it is (and include the post code if possible).

Taking the scenario above of working in the middle of field, there's a chance that a normal ambulance may not be able to reach you, in which case you've potentially got a couple of choices...

  • Request an air ambulance (coverage across the UK is pretty good, and the coastguard might be used if you are at a coastal location).

  • Request a 4x4 ambulance.

But what if you happen to pick the day when the air ambulance is busy on another emergency and the 4x4 ambulance is having it's MOT? In that case, cry make plans to evacuate the casualty - you've a couple of options here as well...

  • Load the casualty in to the back of the van and take them to hospital yourself - you do know where your nearest hospital is don't you? If not, use the search facility on the NHS website (for those of you in the UK).

  • Ask the emergency services to meet you at a pre-arranged point where a suitable response can be handled. Write down the grid reference / address of this meeting point.

Think about how you would contact the emergency services - these days it's quite likely that you'll be opting to call using your mobile phone, but there are two disadvantage of this 1) the state of the battery, and 2) the strength of the phone signal. Other than keeping your phone charged, there's not much you can do about battery condition, but if you find that there's no signal where you're working then take a few minutes out to stroll around the site - more often than not you'll find a spot where a signal can be gleaned.

What number are you going to dial from your mobile phone in the event of an emergency? 999? There's a better number, and you should remember it!..


This number is operator independant - which means that if you are with Vodafone, for example, but only O2 have the area covered, your call will be picked up. Not only that, but it will also pinpoint your location - how cool is that?

Speaking of "cool" - have you come across 'ICE' entries for mobile phones? It always amazes me that most people have not come across this! In this context 'ICE' stands for In Case of Emergency and all you need to do is amend your next of kin's name in your phone to have ICE before it. Let's say your NOK is Fiona - in the phone, instead of just being listed as "Fiona", you would list it as "ICE Fiona"; now the emergency services can scroll through the names in your phone and immediately recognise who your NOK is.

Finally, it's probably a good idea to keep a note of anyone who carries a medi-alert tag, is diabetic / epileptic / suffers from certain allergies (e.g. bee or wasp stings).

Next post... chainsaw safety features.

Calculating The Risk...

In the last post we looked at risk assessments and mentioned about calculating the risk - but not how to do it. It's a doddle and as long as you can multiply up to 3 you can do it.

After identifying your hazards, you can set about calculating just how much of a risk they are to you. To do this you just need to assign two values and then multiply.

So how does it work?

You need to look at how severe an injury would be if that hazard were to wreak havoc on you, and look at just how likely that really is; assigning a value to both of these will lead you to a risk rating.

Risk rating = severity x likelihood

That's it - to make things quick and easy use the following values for severity:

  1. Minor injury

  2. Major injury

  3. Serious injury / fatal

For likelihood you would follow a similar process:

  1. Unlikely or improbable.

  2. Sometimes happens.

  3. Likely to happen or always happens.

Therefore, if you are always suffering fatalities that would get the highest risk rating of 9, but if you always shy away when there's work to be done operate in a safe manner, then your risk rating will be 1 or 2.

I made mention of the traffic light system in the last post and this ties in nicely with the risk rating using the above method.

  • Risk ratings of 1-3 merit a 'green light'.

  • Risk ratings of 4-6 merit an 'amber light'.

  • Risk ratings of 7-9 merit a 'red light' to show a high to very high level of risk.

Next post... emergency action planning.

Chainsaw Safety...

There's no escaping the fact that wands of doom chainsaws are potentially lethal, but sometimes it's not the chainsaw per se that's your biggest danger. So how do you know what hazards there are, and just how risky are they?

Risk assessments are often thought to be a complete chore, but once you know how to set about doing a risk assessment - whether you write everything down, or just go through the points in your mind, it's pretty quick and a few minutes thought will make everything much safer for you.

The first step in completing a risk assessment is to try and work out what the dangers (or hazards) are. You can then calculate how dangerous they are by working out a risk rating and then attempting to reduce this rating by implementing control measures - essentially doing something that will reduce the risk to you and those around you.

So, we have 3 steps to a risk assessment:

  1. Identify the hazards.

  2. Calculate the risk.

  3. Implement control measures.

Identifying hazards can be quite tricky - ask a group of people about the hazards they face and you're likely to come up with the obvious 3 or 4 hazards... and then it goes quiet; to help you with this, try to work out what hazards there are that relate to the...

  • Site: where you will be working. This could include the terrain, ground conditions, trip hazards, weather, utility lines and so on.

  • Task: what is that you are doing? Could you cut yourself whilst maintaining the saw, get grease and dirt in your eyes from improper use of the airline? What about lifting heavy timbers?

  • Machine: what equipment will you be using? There are hazards with the saw, airlines, winches or any other tools that you're likely to use.

There's no need to list all the really obvious stuff - we all know you shouldn't drink petrol (although I have drunk some Hungarian stuff that would boost the octane rating of any fuel).

Generally, you need to be thinking about hazards that pose a threat to not just yourself, but to others around you.

You can calculate the risk, and many firms operate a 'traffic light' system where a red indicator would depict a high risk, amber a medium risk and green a low risk. We'll take a look at calculating risk in a later post.

Once you know the hazards, you can work out how to minimise them - putting out signs, or setting up an exclusion zone is a classic instance of protecting third-parties from you doing something daft with your chainsaw (or to stop those members of the public who just have to stand next to you to see what you're doing.

If there's a team of you going out with a saw then complete the risk assessment together and make sure that everyone in the team knows what the risks are and how to avoid them.

Welcome to DriveLink

Hi, and welcome to Drive Link - the new home of chainsaw maintenance and usage. Over the next few months we'll take a look at how to go about safely maintaining and using your chainsaw. More after the jump...

This blog is all about doing it properly and keeping safe whilst you look after your chainsaw - they are a potentially dangerous piece of kit and it's not just about not holding the pointy end filling it up with fuel and mullering a few pieces of wood.

We'll start by taking a look at assessing the risks while maintaining and using your chainsaw, before we take a fairly in-depth look at how to actually go about maintaining it. After that... well, once you've all got clean, sharp saws maybe we'll take a gander at actually using it.

Finally, as we go along, if you've got any thoughts, questions or comments just use the comments section.