Working Safely with Chain Saws
The chain saw is one of the most efficient and productive portable power tools used in the industry. It can also be one of the most dangerous. If you learn to operate it properly and maintain the saw in good working condition, you can avoid injury as well as be more productive.
Before Starting the Saw
- Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and
handles to ensure they are functioning properly
and adjusted according to the manufacturer's
- Fuel the saw at least 10 feet from sources of
- Check the fuel container for the following
- Must be metal or plastic
- Must not exceed a 5 gallon capacity
- Must be approved by the Underwriters
Laboratory, Factory Mutual (FM), the
Department of Transportation (DOT), or other
Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.
While Running the Saw
- Keep hands on the handles, and maintain
secure footing while operating the chainsaw.
- Clear the area of obstacles that might interfere
with cutting the tree or using the retreat path.
- Do not cut directly overhead.
- Shut off or release throttle prior to retreating.
- Shut off or engage the chain brake whenever
the saw is carried more than 50 feet, or across
- Be prepared for kickback; use saws that reduce
kickback danger (chain brakes, low kickback
chains, guide bars, etc.).
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE), for the head,
ears, eyes, face, hands, and legs are designed to
prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to loggers
and other workers using chain saws.
- PPE must be inspected prior to use on each
work shift to ensure it is in serviceable condition
- The following PPE must be used when hazards
make it necessary:
- Head Protection
- Hearing Protection
- Eye/Face Protection
- Leg Protection
- Foot Protection
- Hand Protection
Employers involved in tree removal/logging are
required to assure that their employees are able
to safely perform their assigned tasks. When loggers
are trained to work safely they should be
able to anticipate and avoid injury from the job
related hazards they may encounter. Training
- Specific work procedures, practices and requirements
of the work site, including the recognition,
prevention, and control of general safety
and health hazards.
- Requirements of the OSHA Logging standard,
Bloodborne Pathogens standard, First Aid, and
- How to safely perform assigned work tasks,
including the specific hazards associated with
each task and the measures and work practices
which will be used to control those hazards.
- How to safely use, operate, and maintain tools,
machines and vehicles which the employee will
be required to utilize in completing the assigned
This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA programs, policies or standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a comprehensive list of compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title 29 of the Code of Federal
Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877) 889-5627.
For more complete information:
Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Labor