Chap Works…

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.


I can remember back in the early nineties when I was preparing for a training program in West Virginia. Ed Murriner of WV Forestry, at that time, and I, were discussing the use of PPE in the state among professional operators. The first demonstrations for the Logger Certification Program there, we had huge turnouts, but we had very few show up with hardhats. I asked how many used hardhats on the job. Very few hands went up. When I asked how many used saw chaps, I had even fewer hands raised.


I also remember calling around and asking if there were any records of sales, from three different manufacturer/suppliers of chaps, shipped to WV. The report was less than 150 pairs. I could have carried every pair of chaps sold in WV, to that date, in the back of my S10 Blazer. I would have to say, in my opinion, that most of those were probably used by and belonged to the Forest Service in the state.


One thing the OSHA regulations did shortly after that time in history, for the private sector of businesses, was to enforce and excite the purchase of leg protection. The OSHA requirement (OSHA 1910.266) of chain saw leg protection (chaps) has definitely saved a lot of chain saw cuts to operators.


Saw Chaps are working today for many, many chain saw operators and especially the USFS. The US Forest Service has been religiously requiring and using saw chaps for many years. They were the first organization to really push the issue to their workers and volunteers in fire service.


I recently read the 2010 Gransfors Bruks SwedePro catalog, which showed chain saw injury statistics, compiled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission for the year 2008. They are showing 27,170 incidents in 2008, 11,904 of them were to the legs.


The breakdown:

Head 1,786
Upper body. 816
Arms and hands. 11,107
Legs. 11,904
Feet 1,557


PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is so important for part time and full time operators of chain saws. It’s the cheapest insurance you can buy for chain saw use. It’s not going to eliminate all accidents and incidents but it sure can lessen an injury if one occurs. Remember, an accident is an unplanned event. No one in their right mind plans an accident! I can tell you also from my discussions with operators across the country that experience is a great teacher but it doesn’t always mean a lot should you miss something in the planning process and something unplanned happens.


I was so pleased when I received a copy of this message from the USFS Region 6 Health and Safety Chain Saw Specialist (THE U.S. Chain Saw Boss) Winston Rall.


Good morning all,


We have had a large number of "chap cuts" this year and the good news is that chaps work and we have had no injuries. On the other hand we need to be aware that when PPE is damaged it is the last line of defense from injury and that we need to look at what actions led up to that damage.


It is the busiest time of the year but let's take the time and ask our instructors and crew leaders to conduct tailgate sessions specific to avoiding saw contact with legs before the next project requiring saw work.


Here are some contributing actions to the chap cuts that we have had to cover in those tailgates.




Winston Rall

R6 Health & Safety


Here are some things to reduce the number of cut chaps










Then I received another message with some additional comments from the field… Dan Peterson, Safety and Occupational Health Specialist USDA Forest Service Region 8 & 9







I want to say thank you to Mr. Rall and Mr. Peterson for allowing me to reprint this super information. It’s a great testimony to the effectiveness of PPE and it’s also important info for many of you to realize that Saw Chaps can work for you too. In this case, every cut chap represents less pain and suffering for the operator, their coworkers and their families.


If you do not have PPE to use… buy it! The Professionals and Volunteers of the USFS use it and it pays!



For more information on Chain Saw Chaps, Cutting Pants, other PPE and Training visit the Forest Applications Training, Inc. website and look over the items available through our endorsed manufacturers. Purchasing Links are available through our eStore too…


(c) Copyright 2010 Forest Applications Training, Inc.