FAQ Chainsaw Leg Protection

  1. Are there any standard or standards for the performance and testing of chainsaw chaps?
  2. Is there a new 2008 ASTM Leg Protection standard?
  3. Can the testing be done by the manufacturer, or is it required that the testing is performed by a third party laboratory?
  4. How does the commercial standards compare to the US Forrest Service Specification 6170-47, year 2000 revision?
  5. Does OSHA approve chain saw leg protection?
  6. What is the protective material in Elvex ProChaps?
  7. How does Prolar compare to Kevlar?
  8. Will chainsaw chaps stop a chainsaw running at full speed?
  9. Can Elvex chainsaw chaps be used to protect against other tools than chain saws?
  10. Can chainsaw chaps be repaired after minor cuts?
  11. Can Elvex ProChaps be washed without destroying the protective properties?

Are there any standard or standards for the performance and testing of chainsaw chaps?


Yes indeed. There are commercial standards for both the performance and testing, and there is also a certification program. But please observe that it is not mandatory to comply with these commercial standards, why you will have to look for the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) certification label on the chaps you are purchasing.


The Performance Standard is ASTM F 1897-2008, and it establishes minimum performance requirements in regards to chain saw stopping capability, wash ability, areas of protection, care and maintenance, inspection and testing as well as identification and user warnings. The chain saw stopping requirement is that the garment must be capable of stopping a chain that is running at 2,750 feet per minute without penetration of the inner layer. Previously to 2008 the requirement was 2,500 feet per minute.


The Testing Standard is ASTM F 1414-92A (1997). This standard establishes the exact test apparatus and methods to be used in conformance testing, as well as calibration requirements. Exact conformance to this test standard is very important, since it has been observed that minor changes in equipment can have drastic effects on the test results.


UL Certification: Initially UL performs the compliance testing. In order for a manufacturer to be allowed to affix the UL label onto their chainsaw chaps, the manufacturer must allow four annual inspections of its manufacturing and quality control procedures. UL engineers verify that the products are produced meet the requirements of the above standards.


OBSERVE: Only chainsaw chaps carrying the UL label are guaranteed to comply with the performance and testing requirements listed above. There are chainsaw chaps available on the commercial market that do not meet the performance and dimensional requirements. Chainsaw chaps made to the US Forestry Service Specification do not comply with the above standards, and they are not UL certified.


Is there a new 2008 ASTM Leg Protection Standard?


In 2008 new regulations governing test standards for Chainsaw Leg Protective Clothing have been enacted. This revision by ASTM increases the performance requirement for chainsaw test speed, to 2,750 fpm (from 2,500 fpm), incorporating the new limit in the ASTM F-1897-2008 standard. Elvex R&D program to meet higher chainsaw speed requirements, began years ago; with the objective to increase cut resistance, while providing comfort, and limiting excess weight. Through earlier experience with commercial products, we had already established a performance threshold exceeding 2500 fpm. Now with ASTM’s standard change to 2750 fpm, Elvex design is fully developed, tested, and proven to increase cut resistance for chains operating at the higher contact speed. The result is a new generation Elvex ProChaps tested in compliance by Underwriter’s Laboratories in accordance with ASTM F-1414, Measurement of Cut Resistance to Chain Saw Lower Body Protective Clothing.


Can the testing be done by the manufacturer, or is it required that the testing is performed by a third party laboratory?


Only quality control testing can be done by the manufacturer. In order to get UL certification the testing must be performed by UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories).


How does the commercial standards compare to the US Forrest Service Specification 6170-4F, year 2000 revision?


The US Forrest Service Specification 6170-4F is a design and materials specification. The Forest Service requirement has a several purposes, to establish a design and performance requirement in regards to protection from a running chainsaw, and also to provide flame/burn resistance. (Forest Service chaps are frequently used in fighting forest fires.) This specification shows exact dimensional drawings, and specifies exact materials that have to be used in manufacturing of chaps for the US Forest Service. The US Forest Service Specification establishes a performance requirement of 3,200 feet per minute, but the test method and equipment are not directly comparable to the ones use by UL.


OBSERVE: Chaps made to the US Forest Service Specification do not meet the requirements of the commercial standards discussed above, unless they are tested and certified by UL, and are properly labeled. And vice versa, UL tested chaps do not meet the Forest Service requirements, umless they are tested and certified by the Forrest Service.


Does OSHA approve chain saw leg protection?


No. OSHA does not approve any safety equipment. OSHA sometimes refers to commercial product standards in its regulations, but in the case of chain saw leg protection this was overlooked. OSHA simply states that chain saw users shall wear leg protection made from ballistic nylon or similar material.

Read the OSHA regulation: Logging Operation Safety Regulation, 29 CFR – 1910.266


What is the protective material in Elvex ProChaps?


Prolar is Elvex brand name for our exclusive chainsaw protective pad. Prolar is not a static product, but is going through continuous development, in order to improve the compromise between performance and comfort. The unique explosive action of Prolar works by jamming the chain against the bar and sprocket. Prolar combines light weight and flexibility for superior user acceptance while providing highly effective protection. Elvex Prolar pads have been tested by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) for conformance to ASTMF-1897-2008. This test establishes a pass or fail in regards to the 2,750 feet per minute requirement.


How does Prolar compare to Kevlar?


Prolar is a material that was developed specifically to stop a running chainsaw, by jamming the chain against the chainsaw bracket and bar. Kevlar on the other hand (a Dupont product and brand name) is a more universal material used in chain saw chaps, bullet proof vests, tennis rackets and many unrelated applications. Kevlar offers excellent protective properties, and has the capability to comply with the above referenced commercial standards. Kevlar pads are negatively affected by washing, unlike Prolar.


Will chainsaw chaps stop a chainsaw running at full speed?


No, this is not likely. The chaps are tested to stop a chain running at 2,750 feet per minute. A chainsaw running at full throttle may run at 4,000 feet per minute (depending on the brand and model). Chainsaw chaps are designed to decrease the extent of an injury, and to minimize the injury should an accident occur. Consider that the average chainsaw injury results in 120 stitches, and it would obviously be a great accomplishment if it is just possible to have a minor injury instead of a devastating injury.


Can Elvex chainsaw chaps be used to protect against other tools than chain saws?


Elvex chain saw chaps are designed specifically to stop a running chain saw. It is not intended for any other tools or applications. Although the chaps may offer some protection, they have not been tested for these applications.


Can chainsaw chaps be repaired after minor cuts?


The protective material (Prolar) inside the chaps works by jamming the chain against and forcing the saw to stop. This action happens because the chain catches the Prolar fibers and pulls from the full length of the chaps. Therefore chaps cannot be patched, since sawing into the protective fibers can prevent the Prolar fibers to be pulled from the full length of a leg.


A chain saw chap has to be considered to have served its purpose when it has protected its user once. For small or insignificant cuts into the cover fabric (not the protective layers), you may use duct tape or similar in order to prevent further damage to the chaps.


Can Elvex ProChaps be washed without destroying the protective properties?


The Prolar fibers expand when washed in a washing machine, and this actually improves the protective properties. In fact prior to performing the ASTM tests, the protective pad (Prolar) of the chain saw chaps are preconditioned by being washed five times (at 140 +-10 degrees Fahrenheit), and then dried in a tumbler for 30 minutes. You can wash Elvex ProChaps in the washing machine, but do not use hot temperature for either washing or drying. Depending on the settings on your washing machine and dryer, use warm or cold setting, but not hot. Do not use the high temperature used (140 +- 10) for the preconditioning of the pads prior to testing, since the protective pad and the cover fabric may experience uneven shrinkage. Observe, that Kevlar (Dupont brand, not used in Elvex ProChaps)  protective pads deteriorate after washing, why it is not recommended that you apply these washing instructions for chain saw caps equipped with Kevlar pads.


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