A chain saw is a mechanical power-driven cutting tool with teeth set on a chain that moves around the edge of a blade.
What are the hazards associated with the use of chain saws?
Failure to wear appropriate PPE and to operate a chainsaw correctly can result in serious injury or death due to cuts, falls from elevated work surfaces or being struck by improperly felled trees and limbs. In addition, electrocution can result from the use of chainsaws from elevated work platforms (e.g., bucket trucks) that contact high voltage power lines.
What can I do to protect myself?
Prior to starting or using a chain saw, don appropriate personal protective equipment including hard hat, eye and face protection, hearing protection, heavy leather work boots with steel toe protection, cut-resistant gloves and cut-resistant pants or chaps.
Avoid touching any object with the tip of an operating saw to avoid "kickback," which can result in injury to the operator. Never "drop start" a chain saw. Refer to the operator's manual for proper operating and starting techniques.
What resources are available to assist employers?
Safety and Health Programs
An arboriculture tree trimming policy, chain saw policy, a PPE hazard assessment and a first aid, CPR and AED policy are available and can be customized to fit the specific hazards and conditions in the work settings in which employees will work. In addition, a customizable program for hearing conservation can be modified to meet the employer's needs where applicable.
Training and Outreach Services
In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.
Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).
A-Z Safety and Health Topics
The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.
Which standards apply?
OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to chain saw safety in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic.
29 CFR 1910.67 – vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating work platforms
29 CFR 1910.132 – personal protective equipment, general requirements
29 CFR 1910.133 – eye and face protection
29 CFR 1910.135 – head protection
29 CFR 1910.136 – foot protection
29 CFR 1910.138 – hand protection
29 CFR 1910.140 – personal fall protection systems
29 CFR 1910.242 – hand and portable powered tools and equipment, general requirements
29 CFR 1910.243 – guarding of portable powered tools
29 CFR 1910.266 – logging
29 CFR 1910.269 – electric power generation, transmission and distribution
29 CFR 1926.501 – duty to have fall protection
29 CFR 1926.502 – fall protection systems criteria and practices
29 CFR 1926.503 – training requirements
General Duty Clause
In addition, the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina at N.C.G.S. § 95-129(1) can be applied in work situations for which a specific standard does not exist regarding the use of chain saws.
Other Applicable Standards
The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.
Where can I learn more?
NCDOL Investigates: Tree Trimming/Logging describes the investigation process when a work-related accident involves tree trimming or tree removal.
Compliance Directive: CPL 02-01-045, Citation Guidance Related to Tree Care and Tree Removal Operations, establishes enforcement policy and provides an explanation of applicable standards to ensure uniform enforcement.
Operational Procedure Notice: OPN 088, Special Emphasis Program for Logging and Arboriculture, describes the conduct of inspections and associated activities under this special emphasis program.
Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for standards related to arboriculture hazards in construction.
Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for standards related to arboriculture hazards in general industry.
If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 919-707-7876.