Welcome back guys! Brian & Terry here with The Forest to Farm Project. Today we are proud to kick off a partnership with Husqvarna and bring you a 7-part series on PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, and proper chainsaw operation. Up to this point we’ve been doing a lot of work with a chainsaw and it’s very important to have proper safety gear when you’re doing this.
I have to admit, we didn’t have the proper gear when we started doing all of this work. We came out to the property with a F-150 and a Husqvarna 455 Rancher and got started working. We did get a couple of hard hats in case something fell out of a tree, but that was pretty much the extent of our safety gear. If you look back at our older videos, you’ll see we didn’t always have the right gear for the situation, and a lot of that was due to the fact that it can get expensive to have to proper gear. The chainsaw is a sizable investment up front and when you start adding PPE to the list, depending on what route you go, the PPE cost can easily exceed the cost of the saw. However, it’s a worthwhile investment that can help prevent a serious injury, which could cost you even more plus downtime.
To get a better grasp on the different areas of PPE and what all is out there, we reached out to our local Husqvarna Rep, Scott Martin. He’s a wealth of knowledge and obviously loves his job. We learned a lot of very valuable information from him during this series and we hope you learn some along the way as well. So, let’s dive in and get started with our first segment in the series where we discuss the different types of Chaps available and what they can do for you.
- Name: Scott Martin
- Profession: Husqvarna Training & Sales Knowledge
- Time on The Job: 25 Years
First up, we’ll be looking at chaps. Chaps are probably the most important aspect of what you can utilize when it comes to Personal Protective Equipment. There are a lot of different types of chaps available for different applications. There are two main groups, consumer chaps for consumer-grade chainsaws, and professional chaps that are really designed for professional chainsaws. That distinction is really important to know because there are certain ANSI regulations (The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system.) built into professional chaps that you wouldn’t have in the consumer-grade chaps because of the power that professional saws would bring. It’s very important to know, Consumer Chaps – Consumer Saw, Professional Chaps – Professional Saw.
With that being said, we’ve got a variety of chaps to go through and first off, we’ll start with the basic Apron Chaps. They are called Apron Chaps because they attach around your waist like an apron would. The leg coverings are straight up and down and have leg enclosures around the thigh and the calf.
When you put these on, you’re covering around roughly 2/3 of your leg from your thigh down to your ankle. These are great chaps and work very effectively.
From there, the next progression would be wrap chaps. The wrap chap is a great professional chap because of the calf wrap feature built into it. You can see where the chap flares off to the side. This is why it’s called a full wrap chap.
The reason it does this is so that it will completely wrap your calf. Then there are three enclosures that keep it completely enclosed around your calf. Complete calf coverage is very important when you get to using a saw with a long bar and in applications where the tip of the saw can come in close proximity to the ground or you’re in a slashing type of cut. This is where the bar could come into contact with the lower extremities, particularly the left leg because you’re using the saw in a right-handed application.
If you’re using an Apron style chap in this situation and the saw comes into contact with it, because of the direction the chain is running, it can grab the chap, rotate it around your leg, and the chain can then access your exposed leg.
If you’re using a Full Wrap Chap, you have a full 360 degrees of coverage around your calf. So, if the saw does come into contact with the chap, the saw can still roll the chap, but you have full calf coverage that will roll into the saw as well. Therefore, your calf is much more protected in this instance. From a professional standpoint, the Wrap Chap is a great chap. Keep in mind, apron chaps or wrap chaps are always better than no chap at all.
Another type of chaps, more of an older style, were the bib overall chaps. They were much heavier because they had a lot of chainsaw protective material built into them. This made them great for a logger type setting, but it also made them very hot. More people would opt to use chaps because you have far more ventilation and comfort with them. Obviously, the technology needed to evolve. That’s where the latest chainsaw protective pants come in.
The latest pants are far more comfortable and durable. They have vents built into them, Cordura knee coverings so you don’t wear out the knee areas when you’re working on the ground, and also have a 4-way stretch material and pre-bent knees for optimal movement. And of course, they have a variety of pockets to make them more versatile. They really are a great piece of PPE.
Now, we’ve discussed the different types of chaps, but we have talked about the “WHY”.
When it comes to chaps, there are a variety of options for what’s on the inside. A lot of people think that Kevlar is the material that’s stopping the chainsaw. Some chaps do have Kevlar cords running through them.
However, what you’ll see the most of is the white material. The white material is heavy-duty nylon and the number of layers will vary depending on what the manufacturer has specified; anywhere from four to nine layers. Once the chainsaw has come into contact with the chaps, the teeth of the chain will pull the nylon material into the bar and the drive sprocket, bringing it to a stop almost immediately in most cases. Chaps are not a guarantee that you won’t get cut or hurt, but they will definitely lessen the severity of any injury. Chainsaw chaps are without a doubt some of the best insurance that you can utilize. A decent pair of chaps will run you anywhere from $89 for something like the apron style, to $125 for wrap chaps, or around $250 for the top-of-the-line chainsaw pants. All of these chap options cost far less than a trip to the emergency room.
That pretty much wraps it up for this segment on chaps. We hope you have learned something here and can feel more confident when you go out to purchase your own chaps. They really are a small investment for the amount of protection they offer.
Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for our next installment!