Chain Saw Safety

Chain Saw Safety

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a chain saw?

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

Presentations on walking and working surfaces, struck by/caught between and personal protective equipment can be used to assist employers with training requirements. 

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.  Further, pre-recorded webinars on walking-working surfacesoccupational noise exposure, and bloodborne pathogens can be useful in training employees.

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

Additional related resource information can be found on the A-Z topics 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.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

Fact Sheets

Compliance Documents

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

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 or by calling 919-707-7876.