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FLS Chainsaw research study

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) are working with Aberdeen University’s Dr. Amy Irwin, and her team in the School of Psychology, to help improve chainsaw safety by understanding and developing safety critical skills.

Safety critical skills are all the things that support technical competence; like situational awareness, decision making, cognitive readiness, and task management. This research will also look at how the effects of fatigue, stress, teamwork, and communication affect chainsaw safety.

Dr Irwin and her team will be conducting telephone-based one-to-one interviews with chainsaw operators and supervisors from across Scotland over the remainder of 2020. The first results of the study are expected in early to mid-2021. The results and outcomes of this research will be shared with the FISA Chainsaw WG, FISA members and the wider sector with a view to enabling industry-wide improvements in chainsaw safety.

The attached booklet includes the aims and intended outcomes of the project.

Chainsaw operator input will help the research with how these aspects impact your planning, management, and delivery of chainsaw operations. The research will involve taking part in a one to one phone interview with researchers from the University of Aberdeen, where you’ll be able to talk about such things as:

  • What your job with a chainsaw involves, how you prepare for work and what actions you take while working;
  • What you feel the main hazards of chainsaw work are;
  • How you control risks and what you feel are the main reason for accidents and errors;
  • Talking about problems you’ve encountered and how you’ve had to overcome them;
  • How you risk assess your work and how you work with other chainsaw operators in your teams

The findings of this research will go on to develop unique industry guidance, and we want you to be a part of that by sharing your feelings, stories, and experiences as chainsaw professionals and managers. This will complement the extensive technical guidance already available, and bring a focus to the human element of chainsaw safety.

Would you and any of your team be interested in taking part? If so, could you ask them to email

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