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Top Handled Chainsaw Guidance

Top Handle Chainsaws

As a long standing retailer of chainsaws, a topic which appears with regular frequency is that of the ownership and use of Top-Handled chainsaws.

The top-handle models are available from multiple manufacturers and now widely produced in both 2-stroke petrol and cordless battery versions. Designed purely for aerial applications, they should ONLY be used when working at height i.e. the pruning or dismantling of a tree. They are not intended to be used on the ground, all ground based work should be undertaken using an appropriate back handled chainsaw.

As per current Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, Top-Handled chainsaws should only be operated by certified/qualified users. To safe-guard yourself from prosecution in the event of an accident, it is the chainsaw operators (and their employers) responsibility to ensure they have the necessary up to date qualifications and training prior to using a Top-Handled chainsaw.

Training must be carried out by an appropriate training centre/college working to framework set out by LANTRA or NPTC. For customers wishing to train or further their existing skills please find detailed below a local training centre which offers both aerial and ground working chainsaw courses.

In the links below we have compiled some useful information as published by the Health and Safety Executive.

Use of Top Handled Chainsaws as documented by the Health & Safety Executive

AFAG308 – Top-handle Chainsaws

Excerpt taken from the publication – “This leaflet covers the safe working practices to be followed when using a petrol-powered top-handled chainsaw for arboricultural off-ground work. Tree work
requiring the use of a chainsaw should only be carried out by a trained and competent climber who has experience in chainsaw use, or by a trainee under supervision who is competent using a chainsaw on the ground.

You can use this leaflet, along with the chainsaw manufacturer’s handbook, as part of your risk assessment to help identify the controls to put in place when using a top-handled chainsaw.

You must assess the effect of the site and the weather as well as following this guidance. Operators who do not observe good working practices with chainsaws in trees can cause serious accidents and fatalities. All operators must have had appropriate training in how to operate the machine and how to carry out the tasks required (see HSE leaflet INDG317 Chainsaws at work).

Top-handled chainsaws are only suitable for use off the ground. Operators must use rear-handled saws when working on the ground.

Read this leaflet in conjunction with AFAG401 Tree-climbing operations, 402 Aerial tree rescue and 403 Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) for tree work. For guidance on work preparation see safety topics on HSE’s Treework webpages:”

HSE documents relating to the use of Top-Handled chainsaws:

Chainsaws at Work HSE indg317

Top Handled Chainsaws HSE afag308

Top Handled Chainsaws_Working Practices crr01402

Additional information:

Training Providers:

Vale Training