Questions and answers about forestry

Many brush cutters used today do not meet the requirement that there should be at least 110 cm from the hanging loop to the teeth. Why is that?

The requirement that there must be at least 110 cm between the hanging loop and the teeth is old and applied until 1994 in the then Swedish standard. Brush cutters manufactured after 1994 have been manufactured according to the European Machinery Directive. In this, the safety distance is calculated in a different way than before, and it means that the distance from the hanging loop to the blade may, in some cases, be less than 110 cm.

The current standard is designated SS-EN ISO 11806-1:2011.

Swedish Standards Institutes, SIS, website, opens in new window

Use of chainsaws and brush cutters (AFS 2012:1), provisions, in Swedish

Can the user carry out the regular check of chainsaws and brush cutters themselves?

Yes, on condition that he or she has sufficient competence to do so.

The employer is responsible for the stipulations in the provisions about the use of chainsaws and brush cutters (AFS 2012: 1) being followed (§ 3). The employer must therefore ensure that they carry out the checks required for safe use of a chainsaw or brush cutter. Anyone who uses a chainsaw or brush cutter is also expected to have good knowledge of the safety devices on the saw, to maintain it and to carry out the checks needed for safe use (see advice to § 17).

Maintenance and checking of the chainsaw should be included in the chainsaw training (or test) that an employee may need to attend (pass) in order to be allowed to work with a chainsaw. (AFS 2012: 1, § 12)

Use of chainsaws and brush cutters (AFS 2012:1), provisions, in Swedish

What do you mean by high visibility clothing?

Reflective clothing is clothing with good visibility both during the day and in the dark. Reflective clothing manufactured according to SS EN ISO 20471: 2013 complies with the stipulations in AFS 2012: 1.

BS EN ISO 20471: 2013 is a 'harmonized standard based on the Directive on personal protection equipment, and is thus considered to comply with the Directive. The standard specifies the technical level, the so-called "state of the art”, which high visibility clothing must meet in order to fulfil the requirements of the Directive.

According to the provisions on the use of personal protection equipment (AFS 2001:3) § 5, the employer must carry out a risk assessment before selecting personal protection equipment, such as high visibility clothing. There are several important factors to consider in the selection of high visibility clothing, such as visibility, the risk of accidents, and workplace conditions. Since these factors vary from one workplace to another, the employer must, on each occasion, carry out an assessment about the high visibility clothing needed.

What do you mean by chainsaw protection shoes when using brush cutters?

By that we mean shoes with chainsaw protection that are on the market. If you use boots with a steel toe and saw protection designed for chainsaws, they are deemed to satisfy the requirement. Although shoes with chainsaw protection are not designed for brush cutters, we believe that they offer better protection than shoes with steel toe only and without chainsaw protection.

Shoes with only a steel toe are not sufficient to fulfil the requirement (AFS 2012:1, 14 §).

Is it okay to use a brush cutter with a harness that covers most of the body and thus the high visibility clothing?

No, it is not okay. If you use high visibility clothing on the upper body, it meets the requirement of high visibility clothing in § 14, point 6 of the provisions on the use of chainsaws and brush cutters (AFS 2012: 1). But if a harness greatly reduces visibility, one has not fulfilled his or her responsibility with regard to risk assessment in § 5.

What does requirements for documentation mean?

This means that the employee must have documentation showing that he / she has taken and passed theoretical and practical tests. The documentation must show that he or she has the basic knowledge and skills to safely use a chainsaw (AFS 2012: 1, §§ 17-18).

Does basic education suffice for all kinds of work??

No it does not. Knowledge and skills at the basic level means the knowledge and skills necessary to safely handle and use a chainsaw during "normal" forest work: simple manual lumbering, cutting off twigs and branches and cutting. This corresponds as a rule to chainsaw operating licence level AB. Work with, for example, felling difficult or established trees can be considered advanced work with trees. This requires knowledge and skills equivalent to the ABC level.

If tasks are of a simpler nature and do not include manual lumbering or cutting of tree parts, such as during construction activities, basic knowledge means the knowledge and skills necessary for the safe care and handling of a chainsaw during the chopping of firewood and cutting of clean wood. In such cases, knowledge corresponding to chainsaw operating licence level A is sufficient.

Where can I go to do the test, and where can I obtain the documentation needed?

One example is Säker Skog, but there are a lot of other operators who offer training and testing. In the advice to § 17 it is clear what should be included in a course on the use of chainsaws.

Documentation of completed theoretical and practical test, from other country than Sweden, also is acceptable. It must not be a Swedish operator. The main thing is that the requirements in AFS 2012:1 17 § is fulfilled.

Employers should always ensure that their employees have the skills for the tasks performed. The training / testing must therefore include the tasks with which the employee will be working. If in doubt, the employer may contact to the Swedish Work Environment Authority for.

Do I need to redo the test after a certain period of time?

The Swedish Work Environment Authority's assessment is that the tests should be repeated every five years, but there is no such requirement in the provisions (see advice to § 17). The employer needs to assess this. In most cases it will involve complementation and updates, especially for workers who have worked with chainsaws in forestry work since they completed the tests.

Does someone who has extensive experience need to show documentation?

Yes, all who work with chainsaws need to show documentation of completed theoretical and practical tests, regardless of how much experience they have. Note that the requirement applies to documentation of completed tests, not that one will be doing training. (AFS 2012: 1, § 17).

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Last updated 2017-04-28