Noise management: Chainsaws

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Employee / workerEmployer

Chainsaws make rapid cutting of logs and tree pruning possible. They are widely used throughout government agencies, garden and park services, and in the primary industry sector. Petrol powered chainsaws produce noise levels commonly measured in excess of 100 dB(A) at the operator's ear. Because the tool can be used for long periods of time, the noise exposure of the operator is normally over the exposure standard. Hearing protection of a high quality is required, and reduction of the operator's exposure time is recommended where practicable. 


  • Keep chain sharpened, at correct tension, check automatic oiler for ample oil flow. 
  • Check the condition of the air filter, keep clean and replace at manufacturer's recommended intervals. 
  • Make sure engine is well tuned. The engine should be able to run smoothly through the entire rev range. If chainsaw runs roughly or is hard to start check the spark plug for fouling. If engine runs only at high RPM, get carburetor serviced. 
  • Check to see if muffler is securely bolted to the side of the engine block. Physically grab the muffler and wiggle it from side to side. Examine the muffler for deterioration (rust holes, large dents, splits etc). Baffles: some engines of the 2 stroke variety depend on baffles in the muffler for noise control and back pressure to ensure proper engine operation. These may have rusted through. If possible compare the noise level of the tool against another chainsaw of the same model. If the noise level is higher the baffles or the exhaust may be holed.  

Noise control

  • Reconsider the need to use the chainsaw. (See section on alternatives.)
  • Because of high noise levels produced by this machine, rotate staff that use the saw to reduce potential high noise level exposure for any individual. 
  • Keep people not involved in the operation well away.

Operator control

  • Do not over rev the saw. Use enough power to complete the cutting operation in a safe manner. 
  • Shut down the chainsaw during reasonable breaks in use. 


  • Use an electric chainsaw where possible. These are quieter and can produce equivalent power outputs. 
  • For pruning use shears, handsaws or electric reciprocating saws. 

Adapted from the Noise Control Manual for Schools with the permission of the Education Department of Western Australia.

Fact sheet
Last updated 16 May 2014

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