How do chainsaw chaps work?

Approx Reading Time: 9 minutes

Chainsaws are arguably one of the most dangerous machines ever invented. In the USA, each year, over three million new chainsaws are sold. The use of these newly bought chainsaws combined with the millions of older chainsaws in circulation results in over twenty-eight thousand chainsaw-related injures each year.

Most of these chainsaw related injuries involve the legs and lower extremities of the users with less than 10 percent involving injuries to the head of the user. Such injuries can lead to life-threatening bleeding and multiple fractures to your bone and make you disabled. The most common recently reported accidents associated with leg injuries were caused by kickback, pushback, and pull-in of the chainsaw. This is where chainsaw chaps become necessary.

How do chainsaw chaps work?

Chainsaw chaps are made from very strong, cut retardant materials like Kevlar. When the chain hits the chainsaw chaps a lot of these long fibers will get stuck into the chain and instantly stop it rotating. They sort of jam the chainsaw. This goes so quickly that they chainsaw will stop before the chain will hit your leg and this way they protect your legs from getting cut.

How do chainsaw chaps work? 1
(CC BY 2.0) by Living Off Grid

Half chainsaw chaps are sturdy protective coverings for your legs consisting of leggings and a belt. They are buckled on your regular jeans with their integrated belt, but unlike jeans, they have no seat and are not joined at the crotch.

The name chaps is a short version of the Spanish word chaparreras. Chaparreras were named after the chaparral which means thick, thorny, low brush. Formerly, they were designed to protect the legs of the rider while riding on horseback.

Reports of chainsaw kickback have become common in recent times and it poses a great hazard. Chainsaw kickback happens when the rotating chain is stopped suddenly by contact with a harder area in the log, which results in throwing the chainsaw backward towards the user in a split second. The cause of most injuries can be traced to the absence of proper personal protective equipment especially the chainsaw chaps.

Pros and Cons of Chainsaw Chaps:

● Pros:

  • Adjustable belt: Chainsaw chaps have an adjustable belt which makes them suitable for the users of different waist sizes.
  • Quick to put on: You can put on and take off your chainsaw chaps within a few seconds.
  • Vibrant colors: The color of the chainsaw chaps is quite vibrant like a highlighter so that you can be spotted even in dim light conditions.
  • Open back design: Chainsaw chaps have an open-back design so they are ideal for the hot summers as they don’t get sweaty very easily.
  • Water repellent: Chainsaw chaps are made up of water repellent material so they keep out the rain and snow and keep you dry even if you are working by a splashing waterfall, a lake, or a pond.

● Cons:

  • Not for other activities: Chainsaw chaps cannot be used by the gardeners, farmers, loggers, tree surgeons, or arboriculturists who have to climb on an elevated or a rotating platform. For these activities, you will have to take them off because their buckles can get in your way when you try to climb the platform.

What does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) say about leg protection?

OSHA (US Department of Labor) says: “The employer shall provide a chainsaw chaps, at no cost to the employee. He/She will assure that each employee who operates a chainsaw wears proper leg protection constructed with cut-retardant material, such as ballistic nylon. The leg protection shall cover the full length of the thighs to the top of the boots on each leg to protect against contact with a moving chainsaw”.

Exception: This requirement will not apply when an employee is working as a climber if the employer demonstrates that a great hazard is posed by wearing leg protection in that particular situation. And also when an employee is working from a vehicular mounted elevating and rotating work platform.

Buyer’s guide

When buying a new pair of chainsaw chaps, you must use the STAMPED method:

1. Size:

The size of a chainsaw chap matters a lot. The chainsaw chap should be such that you can move comfortably while working with it. They must give you seamless movement on a broad range of angles.

One thing that you must note is that all the risk does not come from your chainsaw alone. You may also need to escape away from a falling tree. In such a situation, an unfit chap will cause more harm than your chainsaw.

The weight and length of a chainsaw chap are both equally essential. It should not be too heavy to cause hindrance in your work or too light to keep slipping off with each step. The comfort of the user must be the preeminent factor to consider.

The task of operating your chainsaw in the woods can be taxing so you must not add the element of being uncomfortable to it. Make sure that your chainsaw chaps are breathable. There are also chainsaw protective pants available online but they can make hot days unbearable.

An open chainsaw chap will make your task a lot easier and comfortable, especially on the hot sunny days. Maximum comfort should be the buyer’s highest priority when it comes to the chainsaw chaps. While looking for a good chainsaw chap, you will come across different types from various brands.

Make sure you pick a size that is adjustable and has pockets. An adjustable chap will not only offer you more comfort but you can also share it with other workers. You must make sure that the pockets are extra strong to accommodate the heavy tools and accessories required in your work.

It is a great way to keep your tools handy.

2. Different Types:

There are 5 different types of chainsaw chaps. Here are some of the most common types.

  • Type A: When you spend some time looking for chainsaw chaps, you will notice that they are sorted into “Type A” or “Type C” chaps. Type A chaps are the most popular, and are protective in the true sense of the word – the fabric only covers the front part of your legs, with straps that go around the back to secure them in place.
  • Type C: Type C chaps technically are not really protective at all – they are designed to resemble full pants that you put on over whatever pants you are already wearing. They cannot provide a wider range of protection than Type A chaps, they are also heavier and bulkier.
  • Kevlar Chaps: You may recognize the word “Kevlar” from descriptions of bulletproof vests, this is the exact same Kevlar used in chainsaw chaps. Kevlar is a type of synthetic fiber that is 5 times stronger than steel, yet it is lightweight.
  • Leather Chainsaw Chaps: Leather fits the classic image of chainsaw chaps, but it may be more suitable for wearing to your local rodeo than when working with your chainsaw. It is best to choose the synthetic fibers when it comes to chainsaw chaps since those will actually bind up your chainsaw and stop it from running.
  • Full Wrap Chainsaw Chaps: Full wrap chainsaw chaps are basically just another name for “Type C” chaps. These are chaps that wrap all the way around your legs – hence the term “full wrap.” Some full wrap chaps will only wrap around your calves, not the upper parts of your legs.

3. Affordability:

You must always cut your cloth according to your size, that is, get something that you can afford.

4. Material and Durability:

Chainsaw chaps are available in different materials or fusion of materials to provide the utmost comfort and security to your legs. Some of the most common materials in this product are Denier, Kevlar, Ballistic, and Polyester. Each material is available at different prices and hence, the level of protection will also vary accordingly.

Polyester and Denier are the 2 most common and non-washable materials and comfortable to use. Washing these chaps can destroy protective fabrics. It is important to buy a chap with material that can stay with you for many years.

5. Protection :

OSHA (US Department of Labor) says: “The employer shall provide a chainsaw chaps, at no cost to the employee. He/She will assure that each employee who operates a chainsaw wears proper leg protection constructed with cut-retardant material, such as ballistic nylon. The leg protection shall cover the full length of the thighs to the top of the boots on each leg to protect against contact with a moving chainsaw”.

Exception: This requirement will not apply when an employee is working as a climber if the employer demonstrates that a great hazard is posed by wearing leg protection in that particular situation. And also when an employee is working from a vehicular mounted elevating and rotating work platform.

6. Easy to wash and Store:

You must make sure that you read and understand the user manual included with your new pair of chainsaw chaps. You will be able to read washing and storage instructions yourself.

Conclusion

To sum up this blog post, I would say that, the chainsaw chaps are very good at keeping your legs safe. Every logger, lumberjack, or a tree surgeon must follow the rules set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You must remember that this is for your safety and the prosperity and success of your loved ones.

You must remember that any accident is not just painful for one person but it can make the entire family or a community quite upset. Remember that a stitch in time saves nine. So go ahead and invest some time and money in the most reliable chainsaw chaps.