A guide to getting your chainsaw licence

A guide to getting your chainsaw licence

A guide to getting your chainsaw licence

Chainsaw licence? Chainsaw tickets? We are asked by many people on a weekly basis whether people really need them, because in your words ‘I’ve been using them for years!’

With this in mind, we thought let’s put some details together to help you see the bigger picture and decide for yourself. Therefore keep reading on for details on:

  • regulations governing chainsaw use
  • what is meant by a chainsaw licence
  • where to start your journey
  • how to choose a trainer
  • progression 
  • and career prospects 

Why you need a chainsaw licence

Or more officially why do you need certificates of competence or recognized formal training. 

There are a number of reasons, these are mostly linked to legislation which we will discuss in more detail, below. 

Now we appreciate that legislation and laws are not everyone’s favorite subject or cup of tea, however, you need to appreciate that if something was to go wrong it is this legislation you would be held accountable to.  

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Requires you as an employer to provide whatever information, instruction, training, and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable the health and safety at work of your employees. 

It is important to note that it is not just employers that have legal responsibilities, but employees or self-employed people too. 

HSE states that it is essential that anyone who uses a chainsaw at work should receive adequate training and be competent in using a chainsaw for the type of work that they are doing. 

In recent years (forestry and arboriculture) direct contact with a chainsaw has caused many deaths and serious injuries. Investigations by HSE shows that most fatal and major injuries involve chainsaw operators taking shortcuts and not following industry best practice, usually to save time. 

By law, chainsaw operators must have received adequate training relevant to the type of work they undertake. 

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

HSE state that under PUWER duties are put on people and companies who own, operate, or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not. 

PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use
  • safe for use
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction, and training 
  • accompanies by suitable Health and Safety measures such as guards, clear markings, and warnings

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Requires employers to provide health and safety training for workers when they:

  • first start work, such as induction training
  • are exposed to new or increased risks
  • require refresher training, recommended at specific intervals
  • a supervisor identifies specific weaknesses in an operator’s abilities. 

Employers must provide this training during work hours and employees must not have to pay for it. 

Use of chainsaws in tree work

The approved code of practice, Safe use of work equipment, supporting regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) sets a minimum standard of competence for 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, a worker should have received appropriate training and obtained a relevant certificate of competence or national competence award”.

Along with this, all chainsaw operators should do a regular refresher or update training to ensure they work to industry best practices and maintain their levels of competence. 

Suggested intervals for refresher training are:

  • occasional users, every two to three years
  • full-time users, every five years

A publication from the HSE, Chainsaws at work provides you with lots of details you need to know. 

Insurance requirements

As you can clearly see from the points discussed above, there are many pieces of legislation that state all users of chainsaws should receive training and hold a relevant certificate of competence, along with being competent. 

Therefore, your insurance provider will want to see in the event of any incident, accident, or claim that you have the relevant certificates of competence for any piece of equipment you use in line with your work activities. 

Which chainsaw licence is right for me?

It can be a little daunting trying to figure out what would be the right chainsaw licence for you and where to start. 

There are so many to choose from and the codes, acronyms for each awarding body keep changing, it can be hard to keep up, even as a training provider! But have no fear we will help you the best we can to put you on the right path for your chainsaw journey. 

Some key points to consider include, does your insurance provider have a preference or a recommendation, such as:

  • would formal training only, suffice
  • do you need an accredited qualification or certificate of competence from an approved awarding organisation such as City and Guilds / NPTC

Other points include:

  • are you looking to travel abroad and will the certificates of competence be recognised
  • are you looking to make an income from the chainsaw activities
  • what does your industry require or potential employers, do they have a particular preference for an awarding organisation. There is no point achieving one route and finding it is not going to open the doors you were hoping for. Do some research first, ask lots of questions. 

Certificate of competence

For the professional operator your starting point in the world of chainsaws is:

Chainsaw maintenance and cross-cutting (formerly CS30) along with Fell and process small trees up to 380 mm (formerly CS31)

It is possible to do these courses separately, however, due to unprecedented demand we currently run them as a combined course which saves you time and money. 

Once you have achieved this certificate of competence you could continue your journey onto one of the following, however, don’t be tempted to rush from one course to the next. Take your time to develop your skillset, confidence, knowledge of the trees and the industry, before attending and progressing onto the next course:

To name just a few of your options. 

Once you have achieved your certificates of competence they are widely accepted in a wide range of industries, just make sure to double-check if a preferred awarding organisation is required. We only offer the City and Guilds NPTC route and these are widely accepted in the following land based sectors:

How to choose a chainsaw trainer

With so many options out there for chainsaw trainers, here are some top tips to help you find the one for you.

  • Recommendations, such as word of mouth
  • Who have other people you know, done course with and why?
  • Ring them up and have a chat, are they not only knowledgeable (from what you can tell), but approachable too
  • What reviews have other people left and where? Trustpilot, Google, Facebook, videos?
  • How do they support new people in the industry
  • What additional services do they provide
  • How long have they been in training
  • What do their success rates look like?
  • Any other accreditations, awards they may have
  • Don’t be afraid to travel, the most suitable may not be on your doorstep!
  • It’s not only colleges that offer these courses, check out training providers too.
Scroll to Top