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Chain Saw Safety

Operating a chain saw is inherently hazardous. Potential injuries can be minimized by using proper personal protective equipment and safe operating procedures.

Before Starting a Chain Saw

  • Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they are adjusted according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure that the chain is always sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full.
  • Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support. Drop starting is never allowed.
  • Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain's brake engaged.

Fueling a Chain Saw

  • Use approved containers for transporting fuel to the saw.
  • Dispense fuel at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition when performing construction activities. No smoking during fueling.
  • Use a funnel or a flexible hose when pouring fuel into the saw.
  • Never attempt to fuel a running or HOT saw.

Chain Saw Safety

  • Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw's chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting.
  • Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
  • Keep your hands on the saw's handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
  • Proper personal protective equipment must be worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
  • Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
  • Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback.
  • Be cautious of saw kick-back. To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.

For more information:

Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration

U.S. Department of Labor (800) 321-OSHA (6742)

OSHA 3269-10N-05

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