WIA – WCISA First Chainsaw Safety & Cutting Techniques Workshop Report

After two postponements, first due to COVID then due to air quality from nearby fire activity, the WIA Committee finally hosted its first annual Women’s Chainsaw Safety & Cutting Techniques Workshop in Applegate, California, on January 15-17, 2022. Sixteen women joined two instructors – also women – to learn about chainsaw safety, maintenance, and operation.

Workshop topics included PPE brands and fit for women, maintenance, sharpening, and fueling of chainsaws, job safety assessment, ergonomics and chainsaw startup techniques, reactive forces while cutting, and cutting techniques like push cut, pull cut, limbing, and bucking. On the final day, the instructors had the attendees work together to formulate and execute a plan to dismantle and clean up a large valley oak that had failed across a road on the workshop site in a recent storm. It was wonderful to see the transition from hesitation and uncertainty as the attendees handled the chainsaws on the first day, to confidence as they carried out their plan to remove the oak on the last day. And there was extensive collaboration amongst the ladies during the workshop as the more experienced attendees offered support to those less experienced, they watched each other to make sure work zones were safe and clear, and all attendees were conscious of ensuring that everyone had ample opportunity to get their hands on a chainsaw.

The instructors were Emily “Emro” Roberts and Marcy Carpenter from North American Training Solutions (NATS). Emro was captivating while sharing her deep knowledge of the inner workings of chainsaws, and her awareness of location-specific OSHA and fire safety requirements was much appreciated. Emro and Marcy were both energetic, supportive, patient, and informative as they expertly guided attendees in applying safe and efficient chainsaw techniques. To top it off, they successfully created the sense of belonging that is synonymous with the WIA Women’s Workshops series.

The workshop took place at the Jesuit Retreat Center managed by UCCR in Applegate, California. The workshop participants had free reign of the 400+ acre site that includes lodging, cafeteria, a lake, and extensive oak/Ponderosa woodland. There was a storm shortly before the workshop that downed numerous trees around the site and provided plenty of cutting fodder for the workshop. The staff was able to provide everyone with single-occupancy rooms to ensure the highest level of COVID safety. They kept everyone well-fed with hearty, delicious, better-than-your-average camp food. And there was a campfire social one of the nights with s’mores, roasted chocolate banana boats, hot chocolate, and apple cider.

The WIA Committee looks forward to continuing to host women’s chainsaw workshops, and thanks the following sponsors for their contributions that made this first event possible:

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