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Chainsaw PPE Guide


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Working with chainsaws is a potentially dangerous occupation, not just because of the machinery being used, but also because it may involve working at height, with falling objects, the risk of dust and loose chippings and the high levels of noise when operating machinery

At bestworkwear.co.uk our Chainsaw Safety Clothing is sourced from trusted suppliers and conforms to EU safety standards. You can check the EU standards and recommendations for chainsaw safety clothing on HSE's Chainsaw PPE page.

On this page we list the items that should be included in a chainsaw operator's PPE and worn whenever working with a chainsaw. If you would like more information on chainsaw operation safety you can access reliable help and advice at HSE's Chainsaw Operator page and on the Arboriculture and Forestry Advisory Group website (AFAG).

Putting Together Chainsaw Safety Clothing

When selecting Chainsaw PPE you may notice that some products are labelled Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 alongside the Safety Standard rating. This labelling defines the chainsaw speed at which that particular item of PPE was tested and therefore the speed at which it can effectively stop the chain. Class 1 products are tested with a chainsaw speed of 20m/s. Class 2 products at 24m/s and Class 3 at 28m/s.

Start at the top with a good Safety Helmet. For tree climbing operations AFAG recommend a mountaineering style helmet complying with BS EN 12492. As you will also be requiring Ear Defenders to protect your hearing and Eye Protection to protect against flying shards and chippings it is recommended that you opt for 'all in one' head protection incorporating a helmet, ear defenders and a face visor to guard against debris and dust.

We recommend the Forestry Kit Protective Headwear from B-Brand. However should you wish to put together your own kit you will need to ensure that ear defenders meet BS EN 352-1, a Face Visor should meet BS EN 1731 or if you prefer Safety Glasses, these should comply with BS EN 166.

Moving down to the hand protection, Chainsaw Gloves should comply with EN388 (3122) for Mechanical Hazards and EN381-7 for Handheld Chainsaws - protection against chainsaw cuts, thorny material and cold/ wet conditions. For more experienced users, a pair of chainsaw safety gloves will have only one hand protected against chainsaw cuts (that most likely to be injured), although gloves offering protection to both hands are also available and are recommended for trainees or less experienced users. Good grip, waterproofing and breathability are other qualities you might well look for when selecting gloves.

Leg protection is a vital piece of PPE when operating a chainsaw and should comply with EN381-5. A durable, breathable material with stretch will aid comfort and resistance to chainsaw cuts is, of course, essential. Two types of trousers are available, Type A, which provides protection to the front of the leg only, and Type C which provides all round protection to the leg. AFAG recommends using Type C leg and groin protection for aerial work because of the all-round protection offered, however where this is impractical, for example because of heat, it may to suitable to use Type A if supported by a risk assessment. Type A can be used where you are working alone and at ground level. Where trainees or less experienced operators are working, or when a number of operators are working together, Type C protection should be used.

The general requirements of Safety Boots are EN344 and EN345 but the more specific requirements for Chainsaw Safety Boots are included in BS EN 381-3 or BS EN ISO 20345:2004. Chainsaw safety boots will need to provide good grip and a protective guarding at the front vamp and instep. They should also be waterproof and breathable for comfort.

In recent years Safety Boots with Composite Toe Cap protection have become popular. However when looking for chainsaw safety boots composite protection should be avoided as it will not offer the protection of steel.  The Chainsaw Safety Boots we supply are fitted with steel toe caps, the following video shows why... 


There is no safety standard governing the outer layers of clothing. A durable, tear resistant waterproof jacket in a breathable stretch material will provide optimum comfort.

Working at Height: Aerial Tree Work.

Aerial tree work is regulated by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 which states that employers have a duty to plan the work and select appropriate work equipment to make the task as safe as possible.

The regulations state that climbing work using a personal fall protection system - ropes and harnesses - can only be done if;

• A risk assessment has shown that work can be done safely whilst using the system

• The use of other, safer work equipment (eg mobile elevating work platforms) is not justified

• The user and a sufficient number of available people have received training specific to the task, including rescue techniques.

The PPE recommended for aerial tree work is as above, although the use of High Visibility outerwear would also be recommended.

Further information about safety when working at height can be found on HSE's Climbing Operations page.


First Aid and Chainsaws.

The employer is responsible for ensuring employees receive attention if taken ill or injured at work. Your arrangements will depend upon your workplace situation and you should assess what your specific (as well as general) first aid requirements are. As a minimum you should have:

• A suitably stocked first aid kit

• An appointed first aider to take charge of first aid arrangements

• Information for all employees giving details of the first aid arrangements

Anyone working with chainsaws needs to be trained in emergency first aid, in particular how to control major bleeding and deal with crush injuries. In remote sites injured workers may be at risk of hypothermia and this should be factored into your basic first aid kit. Make sure that operators always carry a personal first aid kit (including a large wound dressing) and have reasonable access to a more comprehensive kit.


Points to Consider when Working with Chainsaws.

Controlling the Risks: Refer to a recent risk assessment or perform a new one. This will help you to consider the risks in your workplace and work practices. You should pay particular attention to what might cause harm and whether your current health and safety control measures are managing these risks effectively enough. A risk assessment is about identifying risks and taking sensible and proportionate measures to control them and prevent harm. Think about how accidents and ill health could occur and concentrate on the real risks - the ones most likely to occur and cause the most harm.

Fitness to Operate a Chainsaw: Operators need to be reasonably fit, both physically and mentally in order to safely operate a chainsaw or any cutting machinery. If you are unsure about a worker's abilities, seek medical advice to assess their strengths and limitations. Seek medical advice if a worker has any medical condition, or takes medication, affecting their:

• Mobility

• Alertness

• Physical strength

• Vision (which cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses)

• Manual dexterity/ grip strength

• Balance

Operators using chainsaws for any task in any industry must be competent under PUWER 1998

New Workers: Assess their capabilities and plan an induction for them. Ensure that all workplace safety measures are up-to-date and that they are provided with suitable PPE taking into account their inexperience and vulnerability. Make sure that they receive relevant information (for example first aid and emergency procedures), instruction, training and supervision and check that they have understood this information.

Chainsaw Maintenance: Chainsaws should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations and should be regularly serviced. Workers should be encouraged to report all faults and faulty equipment should be immediately taken out of use for servicing, repair or replacement.

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This information was taken from HSE's comprehensive guide to Chainsaws at Work