We all know that if we wear ordinary pants to cut wood, if we use a chainsaw and accidentally miss it, it is easy to get workers injured. Therefore, chainsaw pants with special fabrics are necessary for lumberjacks.
Special fabrics have been developed for chainsaw clothing, and this development is still ongoing. Conventional fabric is useless as protection against a running chainsaw, as the fabric is cut through immediately.
There is a real struggle and conflict between making a fabric proof against more violent impact, and making it light, flexible and comfortable enough for the user. Clothes which make the user too hot, or which prevent the user moving easily, are a safety problem in themselves. A worker unable to move easily and / or suffering from being too hot is not safe. Extra fabric layers are added to clothing to improve cut resistance, but clothes which cannot be cut at all by a powerful saw are impractical, even with modern fibres. Additionally saw and chain technology seems to be outstripping fabric technology. It is almost impossible to protect against high power saws employing aggressive cutting chains.
A classification scheme has been developed in the EU to rate trousers, and fabric in general, for protection against cutting.
The chain speed is specified in the manual for a chainsaw. Higher class trousers are more expensive, hotter, and heavier, so there is an advantage to choosing the trousers to match the saw.
There are two standard types of trousers, type A and type C. Type A protects only the front of the legs, and can be supplied as chaps, worn over conventional work clothes, or as conventional trousers. Type C gives protection all around the legs and are almost always worn as ordinary trousers, not over another garment. Chaps are generally used for occasional, farm or homeowner applications.Professional chainsaw operators would choose trousers for comfort and ease of movement, with fallers, ground workers and firewood cutters opting for class A trousers because of the low risk of being cut in the back of the leg. Climbers and tree surgeons would have to wear type C, as they will be cutting from a wider variety of positions. Type C trousers are, of course, highly insulating, and may lead to heat stress if worn for labour-intensive operations such as firewood cutting.
Chainsaw protective fabric works on a number of principles. The outermost layer can be made both tough and slippery, to protect against minor damage which could compromise the filler material. Beneath this, long, loose fibres of polyester, Aisycle, ballistic nylon or Polypropylene are laid in layers.
When a saw contacts the trousers, the outer layer is immediately cut through but the inner is drawn out and wraps around the saw’s drive sprocket, locking it solid and halting the chain, limiting damage to the operator’s leg. The length of the fabrics and number of layers match the safety class. In case of an accident the fabric is pulled out of the upper and lower seam and wrap around the sprocket as described above.
Protection is only given for gas chain saws, not for electrical saws. Trousers should be slightly baggy, so that there is give, to prevent the chain pulling the operator’s leg into the chainsaw. Instead the ‘baggy’ excess fabric is pulled out and into the chain mechanism, thereby stopping the saw. After stopping a saw, the damaged trousers must be scrapped, having done their job. The saw must be field – stripped to remove the fibres, and to allow it to run again.
In case the trousers are damaged it is permissible to repair them only as long the inside protective fabric layers are not damaged.
If they are damaged the trousers are no longer safe. They must be thrown away and a new pair obtained.
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