Appreciate the warnings, have used these before, but a larger bench run by larger tractor, and larger belt, cutting sleepers.
I do approach them with respect.
Yep, you cant get complacent, nor lazy around them.
I have a smaller Y piece of wood that I use to hold the branches nearer the blade.
If it grabs, or kicks the wood is going to ensure my hand is well clear. Also gives your body a better stance, and you are not bending over towards the blade.
The axle is sound, the blade is in good condition and cuts well, and will be inspected for chipped teeth, cracks, poor gulleting etc.
As mentioned, I feel its safer than using a chainsaw, as those things can bite hard too if not respected.
Actually, if you check out evilbay, you will see many wood saw benches, but self powered that operate on the swinging bed into the saw blade, they just have more safety covers on all the bits, but do exactly the same thing, cut wood with a large rotating blade.