Agriculture, forestry and fishing Injury prevention

Forest Service announces national policy on saw use

Worker cutting tree

Photo: Josef Mohyla/iStockphoto

Washington – A single policy on the use of chain saws and crosscut saws on National Forest Service lands has replaced nine regional policies and certification requirements, the U.S. Forest Service recently announced.

The new directive went into effect July 19, and applies to all uses of both types of saws by Forest Service and other government employees, volunteers, training consultants and cooperators. The new directive includes the following stipulations:

  • Existing sawyer certifications will remain valid until their expiration dates.
  • Cooperators – entities not affiliated directly with the Forest Service – must meet the new requirements by July 19, 2017.
  • Sawyers must comply with minimum age requirements from the Department of Labor. Individuals must be at least 18 years old to operate a chain saw and at least 16 to use a crosscut saw.
  • Partner organizations are allowed to develop their own training and certification programs as long as those programs meet the requirements in the final directive.
  • Forest Service contractors, cooperators, volunteers and training consultants will be subject to OSHA requirements concerning the use of saws. However, according to the Forest Service, contractors are not subject to the final directive because the agency “does not believe it is necessary or appropriate to track their training and certification as sawyers given their role and responsibilities as federal contractors.”

“This policy ensures that our employees, our volunteers and our partners will consistently have the best knowledge available and, in the end, be safer when using saws in National Forests,” Leslie Weldon, deputy chief for the National Forest System, said in a press release.

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