Chain Saw Safety

A chain saw is a mechanical power-driven cutting tool with teeth set on a chain that moves around the edge of a blade.

Chain Saw Safety

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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

Presentations on walking and working surfaces, struck by/caught between, chainsaw safety, bloodborne pathogens, hearing conservation, and personal protective equipment (general industry and construction) can be used to assist employers with training requirements. Also, there are pre-recorded webinars on bloodborne pathogens and occupational noise exposure that can be viewed at any time.

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).

Safety and Health Topics

Additional related resource information can be found on the safety and health topic pages for noise, bloodborne pathogens, PPE, walking and working surfaces, logging, aerial liftsamputations and arboriculture

Consultation Services

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. 

General Industry


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?

Fact Sheets

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to, or by phone at 919-707-7876.