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Safety Foreword


The very first consideration. In view of the fact that chainsaws are one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment to use, coupled with their ready availability to the general public, I feel that it is important to stress that chainsaw carving is not a pastime for the untrained. Just reading a chainsaw owner's manual does not add up to a remotely adequate qualification in the use of the machine.

For the uninitiated (even those with experience but no certificate) I will first draw your attention to a publication by the British "Health and Safety Executive" on the subject of "Chainsaws at Work". This publication can be obtained from: HSE Books, PO Box1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA. Or it can be downloaded via the link. Another range of publications to consider are those from AFAG (
Arboroculture and Forestry Advisory Group) relating to chainsaw use under "safety guides". The HSE booklet lets you know where you stand regarding the law.

All of this information should be read carefully by anyone intending to use a chainsaw for any purpose, even if they have had prior experience with the machine.


First steps are to read all of the preceding information from AFAG and HSE. Next is to thoroughly acquaint yourself with the maintenance and chain sharpening procedure detailed in your chainsaw owners manual. If you don't have one, find out who the local dealer is for your particular make of saw, and order a manual from them (if they're wise they'll be very helpful as you are likely to be buying other items relating to your saw in the future).

The next most important step is to get some approved basic training in the use of chainsaws. These courses are extremely informative, even for someone who has been using the saw for some time without formal training. They will teach the student the key issues of safe working practice and technique as well as in depth experience in chain sharpening and general chainsaw maintenance. Attendance on one of these courses can mean the difference between being able to actually cut wood quickly and efficiently, and being rapidly put off by lack of progress. It could also be a way of avoiding very serious injury.

For organisations responsible for training check out the following:

 Local Colleges delivering training in "land based" qualifications.

Forestry Contracting Association Ltd, Dalfling, Blairdaff, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, AB51 5LA. Tel: 01467 651368

National Proficiency Test Council (NPTC), National Agricultural Centre, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG. Tel: 02476 696553

Lantra, National Agricultural Centre, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG. Tel: 0345 078007

Scottish Skill Testing Service (SSTS), Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NE. Tel: 01313 332040

NPTC and Lantra are the awarding bodies. If you do not have to work on Forestry Commission land and there are no other constraints dictating otherwise, then Lantra is the least expensive qualification. NPTC have an exam rather like a driving test at the end of the course. It is judged by an independent examiner.