Introduction to this document

Safe tree felling

The risks associated with the use of chainsaws and felling trees are significant. Failure to manage them is likely to result in a serious, even fatal, accident and could well lead to enforcement action being taken.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you should complete a risk assessment prior to using the chainsaw, which identifies all “significant” hazards and appropriate “reasonable” ways of reducing risks to an acceptable level.

Managing the risks

To help you identify the hazards associated with chainsaw use and the appropriate ways of controlling them, use our example Risk Assessment - Safe Tree Felling. It covers the generic hazards associated with this type of activity and suggests control measures to reduce risks to an acceptable level. You should ensure that your document only addresses “significant” hazards, i.e. any that could, and more importantly are likely to, cause an accident or injury.

Note. This example risk assessment only deals with the general use of petrol-driven rear-handled chainsaws and is in two parts: Part 1 General risks and Part 2 Tree work at ground level. By “ground level” we mean operations such as tree felling and cross-cutting (sawing up timber at ground level after felling.) This example risk assessment does NOT cover working aloft in trees with a chainsaw. This is a specialist area where the work is normally completed using a top-handled chainsaw and is usually carried out by highly trained arborculturalist. Neither does it cover the use of chainsaws from MEWPS etc.

Make your instructions clear

Don’t include activities in your document that simply don’t need to be there. Work to the principle that if there is any chance of your staff being unaware of the safe way of doing something, then you will need to make it clear in your document. Finally, always ensure that any control measures you identify and follow are decided upon the principle of “so far as is reasonably practicable”.

Note. The list of potential hazards is not exhaustive. However, for your risk assessment to be considered suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law it must accurately reflect the “significant” hazards found when using chainsaws for tree felling.