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Accredited qualifications last a lifetime, whether they be from NPTC or Lantra but the HSE recommends that all chainsaw and climbing qualifications are refreshed every 3 years for an occasional user and every 5 for frequent user. Many contractors extend this to a far greater range of skills.

Cue the stance of ‘I do this everyday, what could I learn? Why do I need to take time out of work? Do you know how much that costs?’

Firstly, refreshing your skills is not undertaking your original qualification again. They should be about checking that you haven’t picked up poor working habits but also how you can apply the principles of safe working to more complex tasks. They should be about professional conversations; jobs that seem difficult to complete while working to best practice. Instructors are there to guide you on how to do this – that is where their industry experience steps in.

Secondly, a straight refresher is not the only way to ensure that you are upto date. There are certain routes where you can upskill, refreshing your existing working practice. The Arboricultual Association have confirmed that a relevant upskill eg. Chainsaw in a tree to rigging is considered to both refresh and upskill. Double whammy! A point to note on this is that you should always check with your training provider to ensure that this will upskill. A Felling and Processing over 380mm will upskill a Felling and Processing under 380mm.

Thirdly, we all know that in reality it is likely that the only time that you will have to encounter the HSE is if something goes wrong. One of the first questions to be asked will be regarding competence;

  • Were they trained?
  • How do you know that the trainer was competent?
  • How do you know that the operative was working to a safe standard?
  • When were they refreshed to ensure that their skills were still sound and following up to date best practice and were they working as trained and planned for?

The ability to say yes to all of those statements makes for a far easier investigation.

Finally, commercial access; ensuring that your skills and qualifications are up to date puts you in a position to commercially tender for lucrative work. Government schemes, Housing developments and many more companies do, and should be looking at qualifications. Keeping yourself upto date ensure a smooth onboarding process once you have won the work.

So once you have decided to refresh, how are you going to choose the training. Working with an accredited training provider means that they have a broad range of knowledge to really help you understand the qualifications that you have, need and can extend. An accredited qualification by a recognised body, also answers the ‘how do you know the raining was correct’ as both content and trainers should be regularly checked.. Choosing a provider with instructors who have worked and are working) within the industry means that not only will they have the knowledge to help but the real life experience to guide you through the process.

To find out more about how to refresh or extend your skills, contact us at

Arboricultural Association – What practical qualifications and training do I need? (