Unpacking the Canadian Chainsaw Protective Clothing Standards: What is Right

In this article, we will go over the two Canadian chainsaw protective clothing standards, explain what is current and how the BNQ standard is now obsolete.

Read on.


Canada has operated under the regulations of two separate chainsaw protective clothing standards for many years. See our global chainsaw protective standards post for more.

Firstly, the one used by British Columbia, WCB Standard PPE 1-1997 Leg Protective Devices. This was later called the WorkSafeBC Standard – Leg Protective Devices, and was included as Schedule 8.21 in their OHSR regulations.

In October 2010, WorkSafe issued an “Explanatory Note” advising that the testing facility for testing to this standard had closed and that other international standards should be recognised. One such standard is ASTM F1897-20. However, rather than adopt its criteria for cut-resistance of 2750 ft/min, WorkSafeBC specified a chainspeed of 3300 ft/min as being more appropriate for worker safety.

This remains the current standard for British Columbia (18 December 2020).

chainsaw pants test rig

The one used by the rest of Canada was CAN/BNQ 1923 issued by the Bureau de Normalisation du Quebec in 1991. Although this standard was withdrawn some years ago, it continued to be the accepted standard for chainsaw protective clothing and could be tested against by Underwriters Laboratory.

The ending of BNQ1923 and its ASTM F3325 replacement

In late 2016, CNESST (Commission des norms, de l’equite, de la sante et de la securite du travail), advised the industry that BNQ 1923 would no longer be accepted in Quebec. This was the catalyst for some manufacturers, in conjunction with ASTM, to draft a new document that would replace this withdrawn standard.

In early 2018, the new ASTM standards F3324 and F3325 for chainsaw protective clothing were released, being the official replacements for CAN/BNQ 1923.

ASTM F3324: This is the standard that describes the testing facility as well as the test methods. It is a direct copy of ASTM F1414 apart from the requirements for pre-conditioning of the samples prior to cut-testing.

ASTM F3325: This standard specifies the performance requirements of garments designed for protecting against chainsaw injuries. It is based on, and is a very close relative to, ASTM F1897-20, the current standard in force in USA.

How this change helps chainsaw users

The change to ASTM F3325 establishes a much needed alignment between the Canadian and USA standards. They now share the same test methods, certification processes, marking and labeling requirements. This will make it easier for companies who carry out work each side of the border. Most garments can likely be certified to both standards.

The Differences in Standards explained

The differences between the new standard, ASTM F3325 and the original Canadian standard, BNQ 1923 are not of any major significance. In most cases, there will be no noticeable changes to the products themselves apart from wording on the labels. Table 1 sets out the key features of the standards and what changes have been incorporated into ASTM F3325.

ASTM F3325BNQ 1923
CertificationIncludes a clause mandating that garments that comply with this standard must be certified by a 3rd party certification organisation.No mandatory provision for certification although UL has been certifying product to this standard up to the current time.
Vertical coverage area – pantsAt front: from crutch level to 7.5cm above the hem. At rear: 30.5cm from below knee to 7.5cm above hemAt front: from crutch level to 7.5cm above the hem. At rear: from below knee to 7.5cm above hem, (no minimum length given)
Options for horizontal coverage area – pants4 class options: A: 180° at front as per vertical coverage above and 180° of calf area as above
B: as for ‘A’ but with no rear protection.
C: 180° at front as per the vertical coverage area above plus an extra 30° or 10cm to the left of each leg
D: as for ‘C’, but with calf protection as detailed in the vertical coverage area.
3 category options: A: 180° at front as per vertical coverage above and 180° of calf area as above
B: as for ‘A’ but with no rear protection.
C: 180° at front as per the vertical coverage area above plus an extra 10cm to the left of each leg  
Vertical coverage area – chapsAt front: minimum overall length of 68.5cm At rear: minimum overall length of 30.5cm.At front: from crutch level to 7.5cm above the hem. At rear: from below knee to 7.5cm above hem, (no minimum length given)
Options for horizontal coverage area – chaps4 category options: A, B, C and D designed to emulate the coverage areas for pants with specific measurements given for width at certain points.3 category options: A, B and C designed to cover the same area as for pants.  No specific measurements given.
Fastenings for chapsStates that straps must be permanently attached.  Certain placement positions given.States that garments must have a means to hold the protective pad in place. Doesn’t specify ‘permanent’ and doesn’t specify placement positions.
Chainspeed for cut testing3000 ft/min3000 ft/min
LabelingLabel(s) on the outside that identifies the manufacturer and the certification organisation as well as the standard that it complies with, ASTM F3325.  Characters must be 3mm high on a white background.  Other information can be included on a label on the inside of the garment.Label on the outside that states the name of the manufacturer, the category for coverage area, the standard number, BNQ 1923, the care instructions, the garment size and the leg length.
Instructions for useTo be supplied on a separate document that can be retained for the future covering care, washing, maintenance, repair and warnings.No additional information required.
Table 1: Differences between ASTM F3324 and old standard BNQ1923

Implementation of ASTM F3325

The formal Issue Date of these standards was 1st Feb 2019. Since then, all manufacturers of chainsaw protective clothing have been given time to retest their product offerings in accordance with these new standards by Underwriters Laboratory in Raleigh NC, USA.

December 31st 2020 was set as the date after which all manufacturers must produce garments that are certified to ASTM F3325-19 and may no longer produce garments certified to BNQ 1923.

After this date, resellers and distributors will still be able to sell product certified to BNQ 1923 provided it was manufactured prior to Dec 31st 2020. End-users will still be able to wear garments certified to BNQ 1923.

As mentioned in Table 1, all garments produced after 31 Dec 2020 should have the wording, ASTM F3325, displayed on a label. This must be visible on the outside of the garment.

What does this mean for me?

If you have a garment certified to BNQ1923 you can still wear it and use it. Its safety level will not have been compromised by this standard change.

When it comes time to replace that old garment, be it chainsaw chaps, chainsaw pants or even Wildfire or FR chainsaw clothing you will be looking for certification to ASTM F3325.

Every garment produced and sold now in Canada will be certified to ASTM F3325 unless that same garment was certified to the old standard prior to the changeover date of 31st December 2020.

Note on British Columbia and the Worksafe BC standard

The Canadian standard, Worksafe BC Schedule 8-A, section 8.21 is adapted from the original WCB (Workers Compensation Board) standard PPE 1 – 1997.

At that time there was a test rig commissioned to test to this standard based in BC, which was similar to the test rig described in F1414, but with one notable difference, namely the specimen holder was free to rotate around its axis. This meant that the chain engaged with fresh protective fabric as it rotated when under test, whereas with F1414 the chain digs deeper into the same place as it is not free to rotate. This test rig was decommissioned some years ago when the owner/operator died and the rig was sold to a legwear manufacturer. It is no longer available for public use.

This Worksafe BC standard is similar to ASTM F3325, however it only allows for one design of garment which is the equivalent of Category C.

Unusually, it allows for four different ways of complying with the cut test requirements:

(i) Achieving a threshold chainspeed of 3600 ft/min when tested using the test rig for WCB PPE 1 – 1997

(ii) Achieving a threshold chainspeed of 3300 ft/min when tested according to ASTM F1414

(iii) Meeting EN381-5 at the chainspeed level of 24 m/s

(iv) Meeting ISO 11393-2 (same as EN381-5) at the chainspeed level of 24 m/s

It is to be noted that chainsaw operators and companies generally refer to the minimum chainspeed needed to comply as 3600 ft/min. What is not understood is that this speed has reference to a test method that is no longer available.

The applicable test speed for British Columbia is 3300 ft/min when tested according to F1414.

Have any questions? Leave a comment for us below.

One thought on “Unpacking the Canadian Chainsaw Protective Clothing Standards: What is Right”

  1. Howdy Clogger folks,

    I love this article and the summary of info far and wide it provides. I am an employer based here in the interior of BC working with the MOF in our fire seasons.

    I love what this proves and my frustrations of working under workspace enforcement, let’s connect please, we love and use your products every day.

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