National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Chainsaw Safety


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.


Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
May 2021

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