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Chainsaw: Services


The Approved Code of Practice supporting regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) sets a minimum standard for competence of people using chainsaws in tree work.

‘All workers who use a chainsaw should be competent to do so. Before using a chainsaw to carry out work on or in a tree, the operator should have received appropriate training and obtained a relevant certificate of competence or national competence award, unless they are undergoing such training and are adequately supervised. However, in the agricultural sector, this requirement only applies to first-time users of a chainsaw. 
This means everyone working with chainsaws on or in trees should hold such a certificate or award unless:

it is being done as part of agricultural operations (e.g. hedging, clearing fallen branches, pruning trees to maintain clearance for machines); and the work is being done by the occupier or their employees; and 
they have used a chainsaw before 5 December 1998.

In any case, operators using chainsaws for any task in agriculture or any other industry must be competent under PUWER 98. 


In general, safe use of a chainsaw requires a reasonable degree of both physical and mental fitness. Although it is not a legal requirement, it is recommended that employers undertake pre-employment screening when selecting chainsaw operators. It is suggested that further medical advice should be sought if prospective operators have any condition affecting:

mobility (e.g. arthritis, stroke etc.);
alertness (e.g. diabetes or alcohol / drug dependency);
physical strength(e.g. heart conditions);
vision (where it is unable to be corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
manual dexterity/grip strength (e.g. vibration white finger)
balance (e.g. vertigo or giddiness).

Employers should check with the operator’s medical practitioner if any medication being taken can affect a person’s ability to operate a chainsaw safely.


Chainsaws must not be operated by anyone under 16. Employers of 16 - 18 year olds will need to ensure:

they have the physical capacity to operate the chainsaw safely;
particular account is taken of their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of relevant risks;
they are supervised by a person holding the relevant competence certificate for the work being done by the trainee.


Our courses are targeted at professional users of chainsaws. They are organised on an ad hoc basis, either in company or on a site which is as central to the participants as possible. There is a maximum of 4 trainees per course. All instructors are trained in instructional techniques, and are qualified NPTC or NVQ assessors and hold a First Aid at Work certificate.

The following courses are regularly organised, but we are able to tailor training to meet specific needs, e.g. one to one to cover units in less time: 

Chainsaw: Photo Gallery

* See notes on Assessment
** See notes on Refresher Update Training

The majority of chainsaw courses is registered with Lantra and will use Lantra training materials regardless of whether the assessment is Lantra or NPTC.


It is recommended that all chainsaw operators have regular refresher or update training to ensure they work to industry best practice and maintain their levels of competence. Suggested intervals of training are:

occasional users - every 2 to 3 years
full -time users - every 5 years

Operators who undertook training and assessment prior to 1997 may not have covered Take down of Hung up Trees Using Hand Tools element of unit 31. As this is now a compulsory element of the new unit CS31, it is recommended that this be included in any refresher training provided. Candidates will also be required to cover the felling of forward and backward leaning trees.


Anyone working with chainsaws needs to understand how to control major bleeding and to deal with crush injuries. It is therefore recommended that all operators hold an emergency first-aid certificate. In remote sites, people who have been injured may also be at risk of hypothermia. Make sure operators always carry a personal first-aid kit (incorporating a large wound dressing) with them and have reasonable access to a more comprehensive kit.


Participants are expected to bring their own chainsaw and personal protective equipment conforming to CE standards and HSE requirements. Candidates are advised that for health and safety reasons instructors have the right to refuse to continue with a course if the venue, equipment or protective clothing provided does not meet the required standards. Occasionally, instructors may have spare equipment that is available to hire in order to allow the course to continue. Such a hire agreement is a private matter between the candidates and the instructor. Items include:

Trainees will be required to bring:-
Notepad and pen / pencil
1 passport photograph for your NPTC or Lantra skills card
Equipment and Personal Protective Equipment as listed.

It is essential that candidates wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as listed below. All equipment and PPE used during the course is to conform to relevant CE Approvals (the relevant 'EN' Standard Numbers are printed in brackets) and be in a serviceable condition. If in doubt, please ring for advice. The Health & Safety Executive recommend that the following protective clothing is worn when a chain saw is being used by an operator:

Equipment is available for hire/loan if necessary.

Chainsaw Helmet with Ear and Eye Protection: Helmet should be less than 3 years old (or according to manufacturers recommendations).
Individual Item specification if Chainsaw Helmet not available:-
1. Safety helmet (complying with EN397) Helmet should be less than 3 years old (or according to manufacturers recommendations)
2. Eye protection (mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses to EN 166)
3. Hearing protection (complying with EN 352)
Gloves * with protective guarding on the back of the left hand (complying with EN 381-7)
Leg protection * incorporating chain clogging materials (complying with EN 381-5). All round protection is recommended for arborists and occasional users.
Protective boots * with good grip and protective guarding at front vamp and instep (complying with EN 345-2)
* These items should carry the CE chainsaw logo

Chain Saw Equipment List
- Rear handled chainsaw that complies with requirements in AFAG Safety Guide 301.
- The saw that you bring to a training course must have all the features marked on the diagram attached.
- The chainsaw should have a maximum guide bar length of 380mm (15”/16”). This is an insurance requirement and above this length is not acceptable.
- The chainsaw should be in good working order with no broken or missing parts. (If you are bringing your saw to a maintenance course, it can be in a condition requiring sharpening and normal operator maintenance. For all other courses the saw should be sharp and ready to use).
Fuel and oil for your saw:
- Petrol/oil mix in an approved container
- Two stroke oil for mixing
- Chain oil (vegetable oils are recommended)
Personal first aid kit / Hand Cleanser / Wet Wipes
Operator’s manual/specification
- For your saw
- For your chain
Basic Maintenance Tools
- Felling lever, filing kit, saw tool kit which should include
- Combination spanner/screwdriver (suitable for your chain)
- Soft brush (to clean the air filter)
- Round file and holder (suitable for your chain)
- Flat mill saw file
- Bar groove cleaner
- Depth gauge setting tool
- Grease gun and grease (if applicable to your saw)
- Feeler gauge for spark plug
Recommended spare parts to bring with you
- Spare files for your saw
- Spark plug
- Starter cord
- Starter spring
- Saw chain
Recommended additional items
- A personal first aid kit including a large wound dressing
- Whistle
Appropriate felling aids: Saw, Felling lever and Wedges


If you have a site which could be used for a course, our requirements for a venue for ground-based units are as follows:-

Timber for crosscutting should be long lengths and freshly felled in order that trainees can experience tension and compression. About 8 small trees are needed to provide enough timber for each trainee to do up to 20 cuts in both the training and the assessment.
A minimum of 30 single-stem trees for felling* (200mm - 380mm diameter at felling point). (Coppice sites are not suitable for teaching felling techniques, but can provide freshly felled timber for cross-cutting.)
*Please check that a felling licence is granted where more than 2 cubic metres of timber (approximately 6 trees) are to be felled and the timber sold per calendar quarter.
A well lit and adequately heated workshop complying with COSHH workplace regulations
Ideally, the workshop needs to have enough bench space for 4 trainees & 1 instructor to work comfortably on their chainsaws, plus seating.
A vice each for sharpening saws
Location of the nearest working telephone should be known and the postcode or OS map reference of the course venue should be available for notifying the emergency services (please also send this to Louise/Cathie for the joining instructions)

Although not obligatory, it is recommended that in addition to taking the course the candidate should take the NPTC or Lantra assessment to gain a Certificate of Competence.

Since April 2003 NPTC and Lantra have together provided a new set of standards in chainsaw training and assessment.

Integrated training and assessment will now be offered by Lantra for "someone who intends to use the chainsaw for business, domestic or leisure activities, but does not intend to work in forestry or arboricultural activities or work on Forest Enterprise land, or fell material above 200mm (8") in diameter."

For all other operators i.e "someone who anticipates seeking contractual work in professional forestry, amenity or utility arboricultural activities which is likely immediately, or at some future date, to involve felling trees over 200mm (8") and/or aerial tree work", courses will be offered leading to NPTC assessment.

Lantra Integrated Training & Assessment courses cover Chainsaw Maintenance and Crosscutting, and Basic Felling Techniques (up to 200mm diameter).

NPTC Unit Assessment is available in the following units:

Chainsaw: Services
Chainsaw: Photo Gallery

Where NPTC certification is required, the assessment must be separate from the training.

An NPTC schedule outlining the units and registration forms for certificates of competence can be downloaded from the NPTC website and we can help you arrange and apply for the assessment. Candidates need to be registered with the NPTC in order to undertake an assessment.

Please note: - A course does not guarantee a certificate of competence. It is at the discretion of the assessor. Certification is based on applicants having achieved the required level of competence in the units to which their application relates.


Costs of Integrated Training and Assessment consist solely of training course fees as shown on the current course schedule.

Costs for NPTC assessment consist of registration and test fees each unit. Please allow around £120 per unit.Test fees are payable direct to the test centre in advance of the test date.

If you require assistance in arranging the NPTC testing, we can laise with the test centre to arrange test dates and venue at no additional cost.


Overalls, Helmet (chainsaw or approved climbing type), in date and with chin strap, Boots, Gloves*
Approved tree-climbing harness in good condition CE marked with leg loops no more than 5 year old. 
Climbing rope, min 12mm, 35-50m long recommended without any defects
4 x self locking 3 movement carabiners, 1 or more maillon rapide, 3 x carabiners (self locking or screw gate) for rescues or attaching saws,
2 x whipped tails or two lengths of rope, 2m long, same diameter or slightly smaller than climbing rope (min 10 mm dia)*
2 x prussik loop or similar, 1 x adjustable strop for rescues*
1 x throw bag*
1 x cambium saver*
1x small sharp knife and a whistle
1 x Personal First Aid kit (See HSE INDG214)
Outdoors clothing in case of cold/wet weather
Trainees will require 2 passport sized photographs at the time of assessment if applicable.
Written evidence is required that all personal protective equipment for climbing has been inspected as per the LOLER approved code of practice by a competent person within the last 6 months and should be individually marked. Evidence of weekly checks is also required.
Items marked * are optional.


A well lit and adequately heated workshop complying with COSHH workplace regulations.
At least 4 suitable trees for climbing practice, which should be large, mature trees with an open crown and a low bough for getting started. The trees must be free from any signs of decay or bracket fungi. 
The ground below the trees should be clear of obstacles, fences and undergrowth and reasonably level. 
There should be no overhead cables or other services, which could affect the safety of participants. 
The climbing area must be secured to prevent access to the public and other machinery operations. 
Permission must be gained from the landowner to carry out such exercises. Where any surgery is to be carried out on the trees, checks must be made with the local authority regarding Tree Preservation Orders, SSSI, AONB, and permission obtained where appropriate.


All our chainsaw courses are Lantra registered regardless of the assessment method. This provides insurance cover for £5m public liability and the training group and instructor are covered for professional indemnity.


Chainsaws at Work - Health & Safety Executive ISBN0 7176 1769 6

Chainsaw: Services
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