I had a conversation with a client last week on the use of chainsaws and OSHA regulations that may apply. I have found that this is one area where employers are woefully misinformed. My client was under the impression that there is no OSHA chainsaw regulation. He’s partly correct. There is no regulation entitled “chainsaws” or that specifically deals with chainsaws.
However, there are numerous regulations that apply indirectly, including the first aid, personal protective equipment, hearing conservation, fall protection, electrical work practices, etc.
Most importantly, there is a logging rule, which you can find here. My client didn’t feel like the rule applied to him, since he isn’t a logger and his company doesn’t do logging, but it’s not quite that simple.
The OSHA logging rule includes the following scope statement:
1910.266(b)(1) This standard establishes safety practices, means, methods and operations for all types of logging, regardless of the end use of the wood (emphasis added)…
Obviously, the key term is “logging operations”, so how do we define that term? The regulation provides a clear definition; “Logging operations” is defined as “operations associated with felling and moving trees and logs from the stump to the point of delivery, such as, but not limited to, marking danger trees and trees/logs to be cut to length, felling, limbing, bucking, debarking, chipping, yarding, loading, unloading, storing, and transporting machines, equipment and personnel to, from and between logging sites.”
In plain English; “This rule applies any time you’re conducting any type of logging operations, no matter what you’re doing with the wood…even if you’re just chipping it up or leaving it on the ground”.
Yes, this applies to logging employees and companies, but it’s important to realize that portions of the rule will apply even for work as simple as using a chain saw to clear a fallen tree from the company parking lot.
Here are some key requirements, but remember the regulation is very lengthy and in-depth. This is just a summary:
- All employees must be provided with Personal Protective Equipment, free of charge, are they are required to wear it. This includes, but is not limited to; Cut-resistant leg protectors (chaps), boots that cover the ankle and are water proof/resistant, ANSI-approved eye/face protection, ANSI-approved hardhat, puncture/laceration resistant gloves, and hearing protection.
- All employees must be trained on logging/chainsaw safety, and refreshers must be provided annually.
- All employees must have current adult first-aid/CPR certification.
- First aid kits meeting the requirements of the regulation must be available.
- There are numerous equipment-specific and task-specific requirements in addition to the requirements above.
- Employees must be protected from falling, electrical hazards, and other issues.
The good news is that the logging regulation doesn’t get enforced very thoroughly outside of the logging industry, so you might not need to worry about 100% compliance with every single provision of the rule, but working on some of the key requirements makes a great deal of sense. Make sure your employees are trained, are wearing the proper PPE, staying away from overhead power lines, etc.