We recommend all the standard safety gear, even if you’re only doing a little cutting. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to using chainsaws. Don’t be one of them!
Skin is soft! Eyes are even softer! Hearing is precious. So, we’re big believers in wearing all the recommended safety equipment. You might be thinking, “I’m only getting a small saw and doing a little cutting. Do I really need all that?” Yes, you do! Even a small chainsaw can easily open a nasty cut, shoot a splinter into your eye, and make your ears ring.
Below, we cover recommended equipment. But remember, it’s just as important to understand how to use a chainsaw properly to avoid putting yourselves in dangerous situations. The tutorial below from industry leader Husqvarna is a good place to start.
Essential Safety Equipment for Chainsaw Use
Starting at the top, you’ll want to protect your head and face and ears with a forestry helmet. This is particularly important if you’re doing felling work where branches might be falling from overhead. Forestry helmets generally come with built in clear or mesh visors as well as ear muffs for hearing protection.
There’s really no need to spend a lot on a helmet as long as it’s safety certified. We recommend the TR Industrial hard hat. It’s one of the most affordable on the market while still meeting the ANSI Z.89-1 specifications for hard hat safety. It’s easily adjustable for different head sizes and comes with both clear and metal mesh visors. The built-in ear muffs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 22, which is decent but not great.
If you want better slightly better hearing protection, try the Husqvarna model or you can always wear earplugs instead or underneath (I do this at the shooting range sometimes).
Prolonged exposure to loud noises like chainsaws can cause hearing damage. This is especially important for gas chainsaws which often run over 100 decibels, well into the damaging range. Ear muffs are rated by their noise reduction rating (NRR) in decibels. So a 30 dB NRR is better than a 24 decibel NRR.
There are many to choose from and they all work fairly well. As we noted above, forestry helmets include ear muffs. But if you’re not using a forestry helmet, we recommend the Decibel Defense Ear Muffs which are affordable and have a 34 decibel NRR which is one of the highest around.
Chainsaws kick up wood chips and dust and sooner or later something will end up in your eye if you’re not wearing protection. You’ll want to wear wrap-around safety glasses or goggles. For maximum protection, goggles prevent splinters or dust from working their way in around the edges but the downside is they tend to heat up and are less comfortable to wear.
Dewalt DPG82 Goggles are among the most popular with a reputation for quality and a moderate price. They also have an optional shaded lens for sunny days.
You’ll want some chainsaw gloves to provide both padding against the vibration and protection. Chainsaw gloves are different from regular heavy duty work gloves in that they have additional anti-cut protection for your left (lead) hand. There are several models that work well and fit is most important.
Vgo Chainsaw Gloves are very popular and enjoy a solid reputation for their good padding, strong velcro closures, left hand cut protection, and sizing up to XXL.
According to a research study on chainsaw injuries, the most commonly injured areas are the upper leg, knee, and ankle, which together account for over 40% of all injuries!
Unfortunately this is the area most people forget to protect. Many people don’t get leg protection until they’ve just had a really close call or a bad accident – don’t be that person! Chaps wrap around the front over your jeans and have kevlar or other material that will stop a chainsaw once it makes contact.
If you’re doing a lot of cutting or want maximum protection, we recommend higher-end chaps that go all the way to the ankle like the Husqvarna Technical Apron Chaps. For a more affordable chap that still meets the ATSM and OSHA safety standards, the Forester Chainsaw Chaps are a quality product.
Note, though that there Forester chaps are effective against gas chainsaw cuts but not electric. This is due to the way the chap material binds up the chain on a pulsating gas engine but not on a continuous torque electric engine.
It’s pretty easy to make a mistake and cut your foot or ankle, not to mention have a branch fall on your foot. For maximum protection, Viking Chainsaw Boots are cut-resistant boots made specifically for logging and are hard to beat. The downside is, you can’t use them for much else.
If you want something more general purpose, Catepillar Second Shift are among the most popular and tough steel-toed workboots. They won’t protect like the Viking boots, but they still have good overall protection and you can use them for a lot of outdoor or construction activities.
I’ve never heard anyone complain that they were using too much safety equipment but I’ve known many people, myself included, that regret not using enough safety equipment when they hurt themselves. Spend a little extra time and money to stay safe. It’s really worth it.