Safety Tips Power tools

Chain saw safety

Operating a chain saw poses a number of very serious risks. OSHA recommends the following protective measures when operating a chain saw:

Before starting:

  • Check the chain tension and all controls, bolts and handles to ensure they are adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Make sure the chain is sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full.
  • Do not drop-start the saw. Start it on the ground or another firm surface.
    Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged.


  • Always transport fuel in approved containers.
  • Dispense fuel at least 10 feet from any sources of ignition.
  • Never smoke while fueling.
  • Pour fuel into the saw using a funnel or flexible hose.
  • Never attempt to fuel a saw while it is hot or running.

Safe operations:

  • Clear dirt, debris and rocks from the chain saw’s path. Before sawing, examine the wood for hidden nails, spikes or other metals.
  • When carrying the chain saw on rough or uneven terrain, be sure either the brake is engaged or the saw is fully shut off.
  • Keep both hands on the chain saw’s handle and maintain sure footing during operation.
  • Wear personal protective equipment to protect your hands, feet, head, face and hearing.
  • Do not operate the chain saw in loose-fitting clothing.
  • Be careful of branches under tension, which may spring out after being cut.
  • Do not saw with the tip. Keep the tip guard in place if the chain saw is equipped with one.
  • Ensure all gasoline-powered chain saws are equipped with a protective device to minimize kickback.  

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)