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Chain Saw Safety

  • Issued: August 2011
  • Content last reviewed: August 2011

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.


To know what safety precautions to take when working with a chain saw, and to practice proper maintenance of the chain saw.

photo of a chain saw


Operator's Manual

Keep the operator's manual with the chain saw. If the manual is missing, contact the manufacturer for a replacement. Periodically review the manual for safe operating procedures.

Personal Protective Equipment

Use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. Use the following as a guide:

  • Clothing should fit well and be free of dangling or ragged edges which can become tangled in the saw. The use of nylon mesh protective leg chaps and/or knee pads can provide increased protection for the legs.
  • A hard hat protects the head from falling limbs or branches. A properly fitted hat is cool, comfortable and provides protection from head injury.
  • A full face shield or safety Goggles/Glasses that have side shields prevent injury from flying wood chips, twigs, and sawdust.
  • Protect ears from the high level of noise produced by the saw.
  • Safety Boots or shoes with high tops protect ankles in the event of accidental contact with a moving saw blade. Steel toed boots will help protect the feet from falling limbs or logs.
  • Lightweight leather gloves protect hands from cuts splinters, and abrasion.

Preventive Maintenance

Keep saw in good repair. Consult the operator's manual and check for needed maintenance before each use. The operator's manual can be the best source of information for this procedure.

Sharpen the saw if:

  • the chain tends to "walk" sideways while cutting
  • the cut shows fine powder instead of chips
  • it is necessary to press hard to cut
  • smell burnt wood.

Good cutting action and a long chain life, increase with correct chain tension. If too loose, a chain will derail, if too tight a chain will bind.

Proper Lubrication prolongs the life of the saw and increases safety.

Follow these precautions when fuelling and starting the chain saw engine.

  • Only refuel the engine when it is cool.
  • Never smoke when working with a power saw.
  • Start by putting one foot on the bracket to the rear of the saw.
  • Grip the top handle of the saw firmly with one hand and use the other to pull the starting rope. Never drop start the saw.

Transport a power chain saw in a chain guard or a carrying case. Do not carry the saw in the passenger area of a vehicle. Brace the saw so that it cannot tip. When storing the saw, drain the fuel tank in a safe area, and run the engine at the idle until it stops. Remove the chain and store in oil. Disconnect the spark plug to reduce an accidental starting. Keep out of the reach of children.

Review The Following Points:

  • Wear close fitting clothing.
  • Use a face shields or safety goggles, ear protection, safety boots and gloves.
  • Keep equipment in good repair and make adjustments as needed.
  • Follow recommendations for refuelling and safely starting saws.

This information is provided by the Farm Safety Association.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.