Do You Need A License To Operate A Chainsaw?

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Navigating through the intricacies of operating heavy machinery has always demanded a certain level of expertise, usually validated through licensing. The core reason? Ensuring an operator not only knows their way around the machinery but comprehends the underlying nuances of managing it safely and effectively. Now, you might wonder, “Is the same true for operating smaller hand tools, say, a chainsaw?”

From my extensive experience in the field, I’m here to share with you that while it may seem straightforward, there’s a pivotal reason why obtaining a chainsaw license is critically important. Let’s delve into the nuances together.

Do I Need a Chainsaw License?

Chainsaw Operation License in the UK

In the UK, you do not need a license if you are not a professional operator. In other words, most people can operate a chainsaw without a license. However, you must still prove that you are adequately trained by going through a course. Whether that course results in some sort of certification and licensing is up to the user.

A training course is mandated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 to ensure users of the tool are practicing proper safety measures.

The Health and Safety Executive provides an official document that outlines the criteria for determining the suitability of a sawyer to operate a chainsaw. This document assesses whether the individual has completed the necessary provisions and courses for safe chainsaw handling.

checking chainsaw before cutting

This is an official document that you will need to acquire, but it is not the same as a license needed from a professional (see professional chainsaws like these ones).

Chainsaw Operation License In Other Parts of the World

US

The regulations for whether you need a license or not will vary from country to country. For example, in the US, the US Forest Service offers standardized training, evaluating and certifying individuals, but it’s not a mandated practice although it is encouraged.

Canada

The same goes for Canada where it’s not mandated by law but highly encouraged. Be aware that the regulations will also vary from state to state and province to province in both the US and Canada.

Ireland

Ireland puts more emphasis on going through the training courses and obtaining a license, which is valid for 10 years. 

person operating a Husqvarna 20-inch 455 Rancher Gas Chainsaw

However, if the property or land you are maintaining has large trees, then the government requires you to procure a felling license [1].

Australia

Lastly, Australia requires citizens who want to operate a chainsaw to undergo training through a nationally accredited agency and get a statement of attainment.

Why Do I Need a Chainsaw Operation License or Take the Course?

Other than the training course being mandated, there are other reasons why you need to take the course or get the license and take the course in the UK. You will not be permitted to operate a chainsaw or top-rated arborist chainsaws in a professional capacity if you do not have a license to prove you are fit.

cutting branches with chainsaw

From my years of experience in the field, I can’t stress enough the importance of holding a proper license or completing the necessary course. If you skip these steps, there’s a high chance that your Public Liability Insurance or personal accident insurance might not step in to cover the medical bills should something go wrong on the job. Trust me, you don’t want to find yourself in that situation.

Where Can I Take a Chainsaw License Course in the UK?

There are many agencies and organizations you can turn to for the course in the UK. My first and foremost tip when looking into a training course is to make sure the course providers are properly accredited. You can check into the background of the company and read reviews from other chainsaw operators.

A good starting point is the City & Guilds Ground Based Operator. From there, the Accessing a Tree and Aerial Rescue training course will be the first training you take part in. From there, you can look into other courses to further your accreditation.

How Long will the Course Take?

The two courses I mentioned above shouldn’t take over a week in total. Both the courses combined will take 5 days with one more day of testing and assessing your skills. 

cutting log with Husqvarna 460 Rancher Chainsaw

The more courses you want to take, the longer it will take to get your license. Consider your needs and what you plan on sawing to decide what courses to take.

The Cost and Extra Tips

To make sure you are ready for your course, our experts have some tips on what to bring and what you need. The first thing is to have your own chainsaw ready and to make sure you have adequate personal protective equipment, or PPE.

You need to be able to lift the chainsaw and cut through lumber and such with minimal difficulty, which means a certain level of fitness is required. Other physical requirements will vary depending on the courses you take. One other important thing to keep in mind is you should not be on any medication or substances that could potentially alter your mental state.

lady operating a chainsaw

I say that you should be ready for the course to set you back a few hundred to close to a thousand pounds depending on the courses and how many you sign up for. However, rest assured that although you need to spend quite a lot of money, the pass rate for organizations such as the TKF is surprisingly high.

Get ready for lots of hands-on training and assessment rather than just learning from a textbook. This is how these agencies and organizations make sure you’re ready for the natural environment. In case you have a Poulan saw, you will also be provided ideas on how to resolve a Poulan chainsaw that won’t start

Conclusion

Drawing from my years in the industry, while certification might not be a strict requirement, the UK does mandate training. I’ve seen firsthand how this training ensures individuals are aptly prepared for the task. However, you’ll only need a license if you venture into commercial or professional spheres.

Based on your end goals, evaluate the necessary skills and courses. And, I cannot emphasize enough, always gear up with protective equipment during training or when you’re on the job. Safety comes first, always.

Looking for other power tools to maintain your backyard aside from chainsaws? Check out the top-rated riding lawn mower perfect for hills and large gardens here

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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