20-S-05: Chainsaw Injury – Damaged Chaps


On a September day in the Pacific Northwest, a foreman sustained an injury while cutting a four-inch western hemlock.


The foreman was 40 years old, and had 20 years of experience.

All loggers were wearing required PPE.


At a pre-commercial thinning operation, the foreman was cutting a four-inch western hemlock when his saw’s chain got fouled in the tree’s branches. He throttled up on the saw while pulling it back to try to release it from the branches.

The crew all had brand new chaps available. All used the new chaps, except for the foreman, who chose to wear an older/worn pair.

Investigators found that the damaged condition of the foreman’s chaps may have contributed to his injury.


He throttled up on the saw while pulling it back to try to release it from the branches. When the saw broke free from the branches, the tip of the saw came back and hit the foreman on his left leg by his knee.


A crew member administered first aid then drove the foreman to town where he got medical attention. He received 11 stitches and was off work for several weeks.


  • All chain saw operators must wear and maintain leg protection and other required PPE in serviceable condition.
  • Chain saws must be operated and adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Saw pinching and subsequent chain saw kickback must be prevented by using wedges, levers, guidelines, and saw placement, or by undercutting

Chaps Old

Figure 1: Sketch of chainsaw injury

Reviewed by:
Vickie Swanton, FRA Western Region Manager

Originally published by SHARP. Click here for their Logging Safety Brief.