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Chainsaw Training and Qualifications

In September 2012, changes were made to the Chainsaw Training and Qualification requirements for operators. These were made due to changes in the National Occupational Standards framework and the changes made back in 2012 are still in place today.


Historically, the way to get qualified for industry was to complete Lantra training and a City & Guilds (formerly NPTC) Certificate of Competence in set areas.

This had been in place since the 1st September 2003. Under these arrangements Lantra and City & Guilds worked together under a “memorandum of understanding” whereby Lantra Awards provided training courses for chainsaw operators and City and Guilds provided assessment of that training.

Current Situation

The Approved Code of Practice supporting regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) states that all workers who use a chainsaw should be competent to do so. This is defined as being suitably trained and achieving national certificates of competence and OFQUAL recognised qualifications.

For professional chainsaw operators working in forestry and arboriculture, the industry recommendation is that for ‘high risk’ activities the minimum level of adequacy of training is to a certificate of competence and/or nationally recognised qualification where assessment is carried out independently of the training.

Lantra and City & Guilds are the only Awarding Organisations that offer the required qualifications for Foresters & Arborists in the UK. The content of the qualification and the assessment strategies and methods (ie Independent Assessment) used for these qualifications are identical as they were jointly written by both bodies.

This means that all Lantra qualifications, those that begin with a Level 2/3 Award in XYZ are legally accepted certificate of achievement for work in the sector.

Risk Levels & Assessment Requirement

Qualification Title Risk Level Assessment Method Old CS Unit ref
Level 2 Award in Cross-cut Timber Using a Chainsaw High Independent CS 30.2
Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross-cutting High Independent CS 30.1
Level 2 Award in Felling and Processing Trees up to 380mm High Independent CS 31
Level 2 Award in Remove Branches and Breakdown Crowns Using an Chainsaw High Independent CS37
Level 3 Award in Severing Uprooted or Windblown Trees Using a Chainsaw High Independent CS 34 &
Level 3 Award in Assisted Fell Operations High Independent n/a
Level 3 Award in Emergency Treework Operations High Independent CS50
Level 2 Award in Chainsaw Maintenance Low Integrated Training & Assessment CS30.1
Level 3 Award in Felling and Processing Trees over 380mm Low Integrated Training & Assessment CS32
Level 2 Award in Supporting Colleagues Undertaking Off Ground Tree Related Operations Low Integrated Training & Assessment CS45
Level 3 Award in Preparing and Agreeing Emergency Treework Operations Low Integrated Training & Assessment N/A
Level 2 Award in Using a Powered Pole Pruner Low Integrated Training & Assessment CS48

More information on this can be found here.

Differences between Lantra Training and Qualifications

Lantra training products are called Technical Awards whereas the qualifications are called Lantra Level 2/3 Awards in the skill. Under OFQUAL regulations, only OFQUAL approved qualifications can be assigned levels.

To achieve Lantra training products, the assessment is ongoing throughout the course to ensure that the learner has met the necessary criteria.

To achieve a Lantra qualification, the operative must be assessed independently of the training. The performance of the candidate against the qualification criteria can only be taken from the evidence taken in the assessment. Assessors have to meet specific OFQUAL requirements to assess the qualifications and many of the assessors will complete assessments for both Lantra and City & Guilds.

Refresher Training

All chainsaw operators are required to do regular refresher training to ensure they work to industry best practice and maintain their levels of competence. The time period for this are set at:

Occasional Users (those who use a chainsaw for work but not on a regular basis) – 2-3 years

Full-time Users – 3-5 years

This starts from the date an operative first qualifies in chainsaw use and applies to those who have Lantra or City & Guilds qualifications. For further information on this please read


Aerial Treework Provision

Qualification Title Risk Level Assessment Method Old CS unit ref
Level 2 Award in Accessing a Tree Using a Rope and Harness High Independent CS38.1
Level 3 Award in Aerial Tree Rescue Operations High Independent CS38.2
Level 3 Award in Aerial Cutting of Trees with a Chainsaw Using Free-fall Techniques High Independent CS39
Level 3 Award in Aerial Tree Rigging High Independent CS41
Level 3 Award in Using a Chainsaw from a Mobile Elevated Work Platform High Independent CS47
Level 3 Award in Aerial Tree Pruning Low Integrated Training & Assessment CS40
Level 3 Award in Aerial Cutting of Trees Using a Crane Low Integrated Training & Assessment N/A
Level 3 Award in Installation and Maintenance of Structural Tree Supports Low Integrated Training & Assessment N/A
Level 4 Award in Thorough Examination of Arboricultural Lifting Equipment Low Integrated Training & Assessment N/A

Myths about Qualifications

Myth: Lantra Qualifications Expire.

No, Lantra qualifications do not expire. They are lifetime qualifications but the ACOP requires all operatives to undertake refresher training.

Myth: Lantra qualifications are not recognised by the Health & Safety Executive.

Lantra qualifications are fully recognised by HSE as well as other industry stakeholders. Lantra are explicitly stated as a recognised Awarding Organisation by HSE on their website on Chainsaw qualifications.

Myth: Lantra qualifications are turned away on certain sites.

This is not true. Lantra qualifications hold the same legal standing as City & Guilds qualifications and you cannot be forced to do City & Guilds qualifications if you hold a Lantra qualification.

Myth: Lantra qualifications are not independently assessed.

Lantra qualifications are independently assessed and fully comply with OFQUAL regulations.


For anyone using a chainsaw for work purposes, they are required by legislation to be trained and to also achieve an OFQUAL recognised qualification. The only Awarding Organisations who offer these are Lantra and City & Guilds.

Both organisations qualifications are recognised and accepted by all employers and industry stakeholders, such as Forestry England, Forestry Land Scotland, Western Power, Electricity North West etc, as they meet the requirements set out by industry and HSE.

Lantra are the only organisation in the UK that will ensure that a chainsaw operator can have the required certified training and also OFQUAL approved qualification in this sector.

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