Building the resources of the future.

So, this blog site has now been around for years helping people to get through their chainsaw assessments, and just generally providing high quality information to everyone - the site was started in a bid to ensure that anyone using a chainsaw had access to the right information to allow them to use it safely.

This site isn't going to be disappearing anytime soon, but I am starting the long slow process to building an updated site with much more information - if you want to see the sort of thing I mean then pop on over to and take a look. You'll need to register, but the information is totally free - although I will warn you that at the moment it's still under construction so it may not seem terribly friendly to use! But there is a heap of information relating to health and safety, and legislation (there's also plenty behind-the-scenes too, but I'm not ready to release that just yet!).

There's so much to get stuck into, this is already shaping up to be a very busy year, and I've several exciting projects that should start to take shape over the next few months...

Nip on over to and take a look.


Congratulations go to Richard, Alex, Charlie and David for successfully completing their City & Guilds NPTC chipper assessment last week, and also to apprentices Jack, Troy, Steve and Will for passing their C&G NPTC Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross-cutting last week.

This week I'm focussed on climbing and aerial rescue, so let's hope our candidates this week have a great time... although the weather is looking a bit 'iffy'!

Confusing Industry Documentation

We seem to be in a ridiculous and confusing time when it comes to health and safety / industry best practice documentation - and I can't help thinking that the industry needs to get a grip!

Let's start with the AFAG guides - for years a central core to providing guidance on the best practice in the arboriculture and forestry industry. Let's take AFAG301: Using petrol drive chainsaws as an example... this was superceded in many respects by the Health & Safety Executive's INDG317: Chainsaws at work (a much broader and more in-depth document).

However, we now have FISA that appears to be in direct 'competition' with AFAG, and there seems to be some agreement between the two groups that FISA will deal with only forestry-related guidance, and AFAG will cover arboriculture, and arboriculture-and-forestry-related information. A quick look at the FISA guides as they stand at the moment though shows that AFAG301 is now FISA301, and has the same information but is now coloured orange rather than green.

But the INDG317 document is also still valid.

Add in to this mix, the City and Guilds NPTC qualification guidance documents that still only mention AFAG guides - even though the HSE website states clearly that many of the AFAG guides "have been withdrawn".

It gets better though, as looking at the FISA301 guide - are you keeping up? This is the latest incarnation of the AFAG301 (which has been withdrawn), it clearly states that further reading should include INDG294: Managing Health & Safety in Forestry - only the HSE website states "the publication you are looking for has been withdrawn"!

So, we seem to have a series of interlinked documents that have been superceded, with the new versions linking back to withdrawn copies of old guidance notes... and qualification guidance referring to potentially the wrong information. Is it any wonder that health and safety in the industry can be somewhat confusing at times?

The All New Chipper Course... Has it gone legislation mad?

Running through the new Level 2 Award in Safe Use of Manually Fed Woodchippers course today (why do all the new qualifications have to have such long titles?), it struck just how much has changed from the 'old' chippers certificate. The new one is much better written, more logical and covers all the salient points - but legislation... getting the candidate to remember information on five different regulations on a one day short course is a bit much!

Or is it? We all know it's important to maintain health and safety standards - we work in a dangerous industry after all, and stupid 'mistakes' are still being made such as this example where a worker lost an arm in a chipper, and this example of an unsupervised and untrained teenager operating a chipper who lost his toes after pushing the brash into it. These aren't accidents from decades ago either... how is it there is still such ignorance about the law surrounding this equipment?

All of the new Level 2 Awards have a common thread through them - risk assessment, emergency planning, and legislation - and I think that's a good thing, but why does the Level 2 Woodchippers talk about the following NINE regulations...
  • Management of Health & Safety At Work Act '99
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations '98
  • Control of Vibration at Work Regulations '05
  • Personal Protective Equipment Regulations '92
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations '92
  • Noise at Work Regulations '89
  • "Countryside and Wildlife Act '81" (shouldn't that be the Wildlife and Countryside Act anyway?
...when the Level 2 chainsaw maintenance and crosscutting only has:
  • Health & Safety at Work Act
  • AFAG guides (no mention of INDG317: Chainsaws At Work or the FISA guides which have taken over from some of the formally relevant AFAG guides)
No mention of RIDDOR there... and no mention of the PPE regulations either... or the manual handling regs, control of vibration, noise at work, or COSHH for that matter! All of which apply equally to using chainsaws as much as using the chipper.

Perhaps City & Guilds NPTC should consider separating out the legislative stuff and running it as a distinct assessment? Then enforcing refresher training on this.

What do you think?


Just wanted to say "well done" to Paul, Alex, Ken and Colin for successfully completing their Level 2 Award in Felling and Processing Trees Over 380mm (the old 'CS32') assessments, and also to Larbi, Stuart and Ieuan for passing their Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance and Crosscutting ('CS30' as was).

Congratulations all round and I look forward to seeing some of you back for further courses as I know Alex is back for chipper training, and as soon as I can arrange it both Alex and Paul will be undertaking the new dealing with windblown trees course as they passed their medium / large fell.

All the best,