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Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaws are used by everyone from the occasional gardener to the professional lumberjack, and although these pieces of equipment come in a variety of different sizes, the dangers for all concerned are pretty much exactly the same when it comes to health and safety. Whilst private individuals use them at their own risk, those using chainsaws as part of their work activities need to undertake comprehensive health and safety courses and regular refresher training in order to keep themselves, their colleagues and members of the public in the vicinity safe from harm.

The most obvious danger from a chainsaw has to be the chain itself. Designed to slice through tough wood, the fast-spinning chain would therefore make little work of soft human flesh, and so it is imperative that the chain never comes into contact with a person or indeed anything else it is not meant to cut such as its own power cable if it is an electric chainsaw. Even contacting a surface such as a concrete floor can cause the chain to break and fly off at high speed, potentially causing serious injury if it were to strike someone.

As anybody who has had to move a fallen branch from their property will know, tree branches are exceptionally heavy. This means that falling branches which have been chopped by the chainsaw can easily cause head or crush injuries which often prove to be fatal if they were to fall and land on somebody. Whilst professionals will be taught how to cut a branch so that it falls a certain way, it is not 100% guaranteed as factors such as wind speed, rotten wood, entanglement with other branches etc can make the tree branch fall in a direction that is different to where it was intended.

As with other tools and equipment, maintenance plays a crucial role in the correct operation of a chainsaw. Not only does the saw need to be well-lubricated at all times, but all guards and safety features need to be present and in working order. Using a chainsaw is a dangerous task at the best of times without the increased risk of an accident that comes with damaged or faulty equipment.

Many power tools are noisy and chainsaws are some of the noisiest pieces of equipment around. It will be used by a person close to their ears, which makes ear protection essential to prevent hearing damage. Exposure for even a short period of time may cause irreversible impairment. They also produce a large amount of vibration through the hands as the motor whirrs, the chain spins around and the saw cuts through the hard wood. Suitable protective gloves combined with frequent rest periods will help to alleviate the vibration and potential injury to the chainsaw operator.

Professional treefellers may just be responsible for cutting down the tree and leave the movement of the trunk and/or branches to somebody else who may even work for a different company. However some may also be tasked with moving them once they have cut them down. In this case, they will also need to be aware of the associated manual handling issues that come with moving and manipulating heavy pieces of wood, as it is easy to cause damage such as a muscle tear or slipped disc. Manual handling training would therefore be of great benefit.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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