Refresher Training Frequently Asked Questions


Refresher Training Frequently Asked Questions

Reminder on when refresher courses are required - it is the operator's responsibility to remain complaint:

  • Q: What do I need to do as I approach 5 years after taking a ground based chainsaw qualification? - 
    A: It will be required that you will have attended a refresher course, or upskilled to a further unit,  prior to the cut-off date of 5 years from attaining the qualification. It will be your responsibility to ensure you remain compliant.
  •  Q: What do I need to do as I approach the 3/5 year term from my last FISA refresher course?
    A: It will be required that you will have attended a new refresher course, or upskilled to a further unit,  prior to the cut-off date of 3/5 years from the original FISA refresher. It will be your responsibility to ensure you remain compliant.

What is the requirement? – Contract awards with FISA participating organisations require chainsaw operators and those supervising the contract to demonstrate that they have undertaken formally recorded chainsaw training within the 5 year period prior to the commencement of any operation/contract.

Why the October 1st 2013 cut-off date? - Refresher training for chainsaw operators had been under discussion for a number of years. It has always been recommended by HSE. FISA wanted to move the process forward and hence an implementation date to introduce the proposal and make it compulsory for FISA members was agreed.

What are my options after 1st October 2013? – If you wish to work on sites either owned by FISA members or being operated by FISA members then you need to have  attended a refresher event, be registered for refresher training or have been awarded a further ground based  chainsaw qualification within the previous 5 years. 

What FISA refresher course should I do? – This should reflect the work you generally do and on which ground based chainsaw qualifications you already have.  You cannot take a refresher for anything over and above your present skill i.e. you cannot be refreshed in windblow if you haven’t previously taken the windblow qualification.

Why do non FISA members pay extra? – FISA membership fees have supported the development of Chainsaw Refresher, Supervisor and Forestry Works Manager courses; and for that reason FISA member course fees are being kept at the same fee. Those course delegates who are non-FISA members will be charged a higher fee to ensure that a portion of their course fees can help to support FISA topics associated with Skills & Development.  

Why can’t my normal trainer do my refresher course? – It was decided right at the start that the only way to make these refreshers relevant and acceptable to the industry was to make sure we only used top quality trainers with a good harvesting background. FISA recognised trainers have to go through a rigorous 3 days of training to prove their ability and knowledge.

I use a saw every day, why would I need a refresher? – Everyday use can lead to complacency and bad habits can develop without you realising. This has been proved in the courses that have already happened. We are not re-training you; we are refreshing your skills.

What if I want to up skill and gain further ground based chainsaw qualifications rather than take a refresher course? – This is absolutely fine and to be encouraged. The usual training bodies (Lantra, C&G) will run these courses as before. If you are successful then you would not need a refresher for 5 years

I have been assessed as requiring to be refreshed again in 3 years, rather than 5 years? – If this is the case then the reason will be explained to you by the trainer and it will be listed on your comment sheet.  This will be printed on the back of your refresher certificate.

What is the difference between the supervisor course and the FWM competency course? – the FWM and main contractor course is based on Health and Safety site issues generally and covers aspects of legislation and good practise for all people concerned on site. The supervisor course is aimed mainly at chainsaw operations and activities closely associated.

What equipment do I need to bring to a refresher event? – when you are invited to attend a refresher course a set of joining instructions will be sent listing everything you will need with you.

What does re-train mean? – This shows that the trainer has picked up some kind of practise that is potentially dangerous to you or others. The day event is not long enough to correct these issues so a full re-train and assessment is the best option. If successful in the re-train you would be classed as refreshed for 5 years.

Who will remind me when I need to be refreshed again? -  This will be down to yourself or your FWM/Employer to make a note of when this is due

I don’t have any NPTC units as I am self- taught, can I still attend a refresher? – No, it is as it says on the tin. These courses are refreshers from previous training. If you haven’t had any formal training you need to get this. 

I am a machine operator who only occasionally uses a chainsaw. Do I need to undertake refresher training? Yes -as stated above the refresher scheme is compulsory for all chainsaw users. Evidence shows that occasional users are at more risk of an accident than full-time users. 

I am a ganger who both operates a saw, but also oversees other chainsaw operators, do I need to attend both an operator and supervisor chainsaw refresher? No – in this case you only need attend the operator chainsaw refresher

I work in windblow, do I need to attend both the refresher event for harvesting operatives and the windblow refresher? No – you need only attend one of the events to demonstrate that you have complied with the requirements of the scheme

I’m an arborist, do I need to undertake a FISA refresher, to work on a FISA member’s site? Utility arborist qualifications require a 3 yearly recertification to evidence continued competency, and as they are not harvesting timber, and the majority of the utility work is aerial operations rather than free felling, they fall outside the FISA refresher training requirement. Operators maintaining their utility qualifications / recertification is sufficient evidence of an operators refresher and competence. Therefore they do not require a FISA refresher course to operate on a FISA members site. If a utility qualified operator is employed to “specifically harvest timber” under a harvesting contract and not a utility contract, then attendance of a FISA refresher is required.

If I have a refresher ticket will I still require to show my CS unit certificates prior to starting work? Yes, your CS units show that you have achieved the basic skill level in respect of specific requirements of the job.

How long does the course last? -The course duration is one day, of which in the case of operators at least 60% should be hands-on chainsaw time. The remainder may cover preparation and maintenance if required, but the session must be included to cover risk assessment and emergency planning. The details of the available courses are available on the FISA website.

How many candidates can be trained at one time? -Because of the content and assessments required for the chainsaw refresher courses a maximum of 4 candidates may attend any one course given by one FISA Trainer. In the case of the supervisor course which will not involve hands–on work, the number of candidates can be increased to a maximum of 12 given by 2 trainers.

How do I apply for Training? -FISA operates a central application and booking service available on the website. To apply you should complete the Operator Application Form or Group Booking Form and indicate the course being applied for. FISA will process your application and advise you when a suitable training event is available.

How will skills be assessed? -The FISA Trainer will test skills against current best practice and make reasoned judgements on the competence of the candidate. The update training is not a formal re-assessment of NPTC or other assessment criteria and therefore there is no requirement for an independent assessment.

What criteria are used to judge the refresher terms? -The scheme requires individual technical skills to be tested, marked and recorded using the following definitions.

  • Five Year Refresh – Competent, operator displayed appropriate technical skills. Five-year cycle of update training deemed appropriate.
  • Re-train - safety of operator/third parties compromised. Retraining within 1 month required.

In extreme circumstances, and where there is considered to be risk to life, suspension from specified chainsaw operations may be required. Details will be recorded and reported to the manager / employer within 24 hours.