Chainsaw Safety

Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
May 2021


Chainsaw safety is every saw operator’s job.

Always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling or working around chainsaws.

  • Eye protection – approved goggles or safety glasses.
  • Hearing protection – earplugs or muffs.
  • Helmet.
  • Chainsaw Chaps – proper size and length.
  • Gloves – proper size.
  • Long sleeve shirt – no loose sleeves.
  • Leather boots – no loose boot laces.  

Take the time to inspect the chainsaw before operating the saw.

  • Check the chain and bar – sharpness of chain, bar seated correctly.
  • Check the bolts and screws all around the saw – no missing screws or bolts.
  • Check the casing of the saw – no cracked or missing plastic.
  • Felling axe and wedges in good condition.
  • Saw gas and bar oil in sufficient quantities to meet objectives.
  • Basic saw maintenance tools on site and specific to saw in use.
  • Review fuel geysering indicators/potential.  

Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings while operating the chainsaw.

  • Look for and anticipate people working in your area – the chainsaw operator is responsible for controlling the cutting area and communicating with others in the cutting area.
  • Look for any snags or overhead hazards in your area – maintain recommended spacing of falling teams or others working in the cutting area.
  • Establish consistent communications with spotters/swampers – always minimize personnel working directly at the stump or in the felling area.
  • Are there other risk factors that increase the complexity of the job – loose soils, rocky ground, steep terrain, weather factors or poor visibility, tree condition, others?  

Complete a personal Risk Assessment to determine if you are comfortable completing the task at hand – don’t let job performance pressure force you in over your skill level.

  • Proper training and certification level for personnel running saws and assisting with saw operations.
  • Describe your medical response plan and how it is implemented, including extricating a severe injury at the worksite.
  • If you are not comfortable falling the tree, walk away. Notify your supervisor and mitigate the safety issues or turn down the assignment.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center


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