Chain Saw Safety

Dee Jepsen – State Agricultural Safety and Health Leader

Clearing trees and fence line shrubs are often a fall and winter activity. Having woody landscape trimmed makes for a better environment, and also provides firewood for bonfires and fireplaces. Here are important recommendations to protect all workers while using chainsaws.

Start with wearing the right gear. Personal protection equipment should include:

• Sturdy footwear, steel-toed boots are preferred

• Leather gloves

• Eye and face protection

• Hearing protection – either ear plugs or muffs

• Hard hat – specialized hard hats can include a debris face shield and built-in ear muffs

• Chainsaw chaps

• Avoid wearing frayed or loose fitting clothes that can catch on the bark or caught in the saw

Chainsaw selection and maintenance:

• Use the right saw for the job, as there are different sizes available for the tree size as well as the worker’s skill set.

• Keep the saw in good condition. Check the operator’s manual for a maintenance schedule that will describe small engine maintenance and chain sharpening recommendations.

• Sharpen the chain if:

            The chain tends to “walk” sideways while cutting.

            The cut debris shows fine powder instead of chips.

            It is necessary to press hard against the wood to cut it.

            Cutting produces the smell of burnt wood.

Fueling and starting the chainsaw:

• Refuel the saw while the engine is cool.

• Never smoke when working the saw.

• Never start the saw in mid air; always place the saw on the ground.

• Place the chainsaw on the ground and use two hands to start it. Grip the top handle with one hand, while pulling the starter cable with the other hand.

Recommended Operating Procedures:

• Operate the saw on stable ground with good footing to avoid slips and falls.

• Never operate the saw overhead.

• Do not cut using the tip of the saw, as this can result in a kickback reaction.

• Avoid chain contact with hard objects, including the ground, rocks, or metal hardware.

• Do not disable any safety features of the saw, such as anti-kickback bars or bar-tip shields.

• Operate the saw in good lighting conditions.

• Do not operate the saw when fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For additional information, contact Dee Jepsen at or 614-292-6008. Or refer to the Chain Saw Safety Factsheet at: