Are you a … estate worker?

What you need to know

Most estates have a chainsaw, which may be used for everything from cutting firewood and topping fence posts, to thinning coppices and felling large hardwoods. Some estates use more complex machinery.

Chainsaws cause serious accidents in treework and you use one you should read Working with chainsaws. All forestry machinery, particularly chainsaws, should be used by people who:


The free leaflet Chainsaws at work contains everything employers and workers need to know about working safely with a chainsaw.

If you use a chainsaw on or in a tree, you should have received appropriate training and obtained a relevant certificate of competence or national competence award. In agriculture, this only applies to first-time users of a chainsaw, unless:

Circular saws

When using circular saws:

Other machinery

A standard estate tractor is not suitable for forestry use without substantial modification to protect vulnerable equipment, improve stability, and increase traction.

Winch tractors must be properly anchored by the use of spades, a winch butt plate or dozer blade. Winching is always better than towing, but if you must use a conventional tractor for towing, then attach the cable to the drawbar in its lowest position and in line with the direction of pull. Never tow across a slope.

When using log splitters, firmly position the timber before splitting begins, avoid splitting into a knot and never use hands or feet to hold the log in place during splitting.

Log loading cranes are potentially hazardous to people nearby. The operator must have a good view of the work area, and no one should be within the risk zone (twice the reach of the boom) or on the trailer during loading. Beware of overhead power lines.

Your employer should provide:

Never use a chainsaw without the correct PPE - the risk of injury from the chainsaw cannot be controlled in any other way. Check that the PPE you provide or wear is to British or European Standards (BS or EN).

Working with chainsaws off the ground

Chainsaws should never be used off the ground unless the operator has been trained in safe working techniques. Work off the ground involving the lifting and lowering of people or loads, including work-positioning techniques will be subject to the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).

Mobile elevating work platforms

When working at height, eg lopping overhanging branches that interfere with fieldwork operations:

Work from ladders

Do not use a chainsaw when working from a ladder. Chainsaws require both hands to be operated safely. Working from a ladder requires one hand to hold the ladder to maintain a steady position. Ladders are normally only used as a means of access into the crown of the tree.

Ropes and harnesses

Using a chainsaw from a rope and harness requires special skills. You should only do this if you have obtained the relevant NPTC Certificates of Competence for:

Find out more

Farm and estate forestry operations Agricultural Safety Leaflet AS15(rev) only available from