Unit of competency details

FPICOT3238B - Operate a pole saw (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Supersedes and is equivalent to FPICOT3238A - Operate a pole sawUnit updated and equivalent 19/May/2011
Is superseded by and equivalent to FWPCOT3238 - Operate a pole saw 12/May/2016

ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 20/May/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 050501 Forestry Studies  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 050501 Forestry Studies  07/Oct/2011 
The content being displayed has been produced by a third party, while all attempts have been made to make this content as accessible as possible it cannot be guaranteed. If you are encountering issues following the content on this page please consider downloading the content in its original form

Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

Unit descriptor 

This unit describes the outcomes required to trim high branches reachable with a mechanical pole saw and to promote tree growth by trimming excess branches. The unit includes equipment maintenance

General workplace legislative and regulatory requirements apply to this unit; however there are no specific licensing or certification requirements at the time of publication

This unit replaces FPICOT3238A Operate a pole saw

Application of the Unit

Application of the unit 

The unit involves operating a pole saw in a forest environment

The skills and knowledge required for competent workplace performance are to be used within the scope of the person's job and authority

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Refer to Unit Descriptor


Not Applicable

Employability Skills Information

Employability skills 

This unit contains employability skills

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Prepare for trimming

1.1. Applicable occupational health and safety  (OHS), environmental , legislative  and organisational requirements  relevant to operating a pole saw are identified and followed

1.2. Work plan  is reviewed and clarified with appropriate personnel 

1.3. Type and quantity of trees  to be trimmed  are identified and assessed for safe working conditions

1.4. Equipment  is selected appropriate to work requirements and checked for operational effectiveness in line with manufacturer recommendations

1.5. Pre -startup checks  are carried out on equipment in line with site requirements

1.6. Trimming activities are planned in line with site procedures and environmental requirements

1.7. Communication  with others is established and maintained in line with OHS requirements

2. Assess trees

2.1. Environmental conditions  are assessed and used to plan the trimming of each tree

2.2. Movement and whereabouts of other personnel are monitored and work is modified in line with OHS regulations

2.3. Tree, location and stability are assessed for conditions  likely to affect safety of trimming activities

2.4. Trees unable to be trimmed safely are identified and referred to appropriate personnel

3. Trim trees

3.1. Accessible branches and knots are trimmed to specifications in line with maximum height allowances and manufacturer recommendations

3.2. Pole saw  is operated to trim tree in line with safety regulations and cutting technique is adjusted in response to condition of the tree

3.3. Unexpected characteristics of a tree are diagnosed and planning is reviewed

3.4. Cut is completed once initiated, minimising splitting  and in line with the work plan

3.5. Cut branches are cleared  from the site in line with standard operating procedures and environmental requirements

3.6. Trimming processes and equipment faults are recorded and reported  to the appropriate personnel

4. Conduct operator maintenance

4.1. Equipment lock-out procedures are followed in line with OHS legislation and site procedures

4.2. Chain  is checked for blunt or damaged condition

4.3. Chain and other components are removed, sharpened, maintained, adjusted and replaced in line with manufacturer recommendations

4.4. Chain and other components that need replacing are dealt with  in line with site procedures, manufacturer recommendations and environmental requirements

4.5. Pole saw setup is assessed and adjusted to suit cutting conditions

4.6. Pole saw is kept clear of dust, shavings and debris and checked to make sure it meets relevant standards

Required Skills and Knowledge


This describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • Technical skills sufficient to use and maintain relevant tools, machinery and equipment; efficiently and safely trim trees
  • Communication skills sufficient to use appropriate communication and interpersonal techniques with colleagues and others
  • Literacy skills sufficient to record and report workplace information; maintain documentation
  • Numeracy skills sufficient to measure, estimate and calculate time required to complete a task
  • Problem solving skills sufficient to identify problems and equipment faults; demonstrate appropriate response procedures

Required knowledge 

  • Applicable commonwealth, state or territory legislation, regulations, standards, codes of practice and established safe practices relevant to the full range of processes for operating a pole saw
  • Environmental protection requirements, including the safe disposal of waste material, the minimisation of carbon emissions, and the cleaning of plant, tools and equipment
  • Organisational and site standards, requirements, policies and procedures for operating a pole saw, including safety procedures
  • Environmental risks and hazards
  • Using energy effectively and efficiently
  • Characteristics of trees and timber defects
  • Trimming procedures for cutting overhead
  • Methods for assessing condition of pole saw chain
  • Established communication channels and protocols
  • Problem identification and resolution strategies, and common fault finding techniques
  • Types of tools and equipment, and procedures for their safe use and maintenance
  • Appropriate mathematical procedures for estimating and measuring, including calculating time to complete tasks
  • Procedures for recording and reporting workplace information

Evidence Guide


The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

A person who demonstrates competency in this unit must be able to provide evidence that they can safely and efficiently operate a pole saw in line with organisational requirements

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

The evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit must be relevant to, and satisfy, all of the requirements of the elements of this unit and include demonstration of:

  • following applicable commonwealth, state or territory legislative and regulatory requirements and codes of practice relevant to operating a pole saw
  • following organisational policies and procedures relevant to operating a pole saw
  • trimming trees with a pole saw in line with the work plan and within prescribed organisational tolerances
  • conducting operator maintenance on a pole saw

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

  • Competency is to be assessed in the workplace or realistically simulated workplace
  • Assessment is to occur under standard and authorised work practices, safety requirements and environmental constraints
  • Assessment of required knowledge, other than confirmatory questions, will usually be conducted in an off-site context
  • Assessment is to follow relevant regulatory or Australian Standards requirements
  • The following resources should be made available:
  • workplace location or simulated workplace
  • materials and equipment relevant to undertaking work applicable to this unit
  • specifications and work instructions

Method of assessment 

  • Assessment must satisfy the endorsed Assessment Guidelines of the FPI11 Training Package
  • Assessment methods must confirm consistency and accuracy of performance (over time and in a range of workplace relevant contexts) together with application of required knowledge
  • Assessment must be by direct observation of tasks, with questioning on required knowledge and it must also reinforce the integration of employability skills
  • Assessment methods must confirm the ability to access and correctly interpret and apply the required knowledge
  • Assessment may be applied under project-related conditions (real or simulated) and require evidence of process
  • Assessment must confirm a reasonable inference that competency is able not only to be satisfied under the particular circumstance, but is able to be transferred to other circumstances
  • Assessment may be in conjunction with assessment of other units of competency
  • The assessment environment should not disadvantage the candidate
  • Assessment practices should take into account any relevant language or cultural issues related to Aboriginality, gender or language backgrounds other than English
  • Where the participant has a disability, reasonable adjustment may be applied during assessment
  • Language and literacy demands of the assessment task should not be higher than those of the work role

Range Statement


The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

OHS requirements :

are to be in line with applicable commonwealth, state or territory legislation and regulations, and organisational safety policies and procedures, and may include:

  • personal protective equipment and clothing
  • safety equipment
  • first aid equipment
  • fire fighting equipment
  • hazard and risk control
  • fatigue management
  • elimination of hazardous materials and substances
  • safe forest practices, including required actions relating to forest fire
  • manual handling including shifting, lifting and carrying

Environmental requirements may include :

  • legislation
  • organisational policies and procedures
  • workplace practices

Legislative requirements :

are to be in line with applicable commonwealth, state or territory legislation, regulations, certification requirements and codes of practice and may include:

  • award and enterprise agreements
  • industrial relations
  • Australian Standards
  • confidentiality and privacy
  • OHS
  • the environment
  • equal opportunity
  • anti-discrimination
  • relevant industry codes of practice
  • duty of care

Organisational requirements  may include:

  • legal
  • organisational and site guidelines
  • policies and procedures relating to own role and responsibility
  • quality assurance
  • procedural manuals
  • quality and continuous improvement processes and standards
  • OHS, emergency and evacuation procedures
  • ethical standards
  • recording and reporting requirements
  • equipment use, maintenance and storage requirements
  • environmental management requirements (waste minimisation and disposal, recycling and re-use guidelines)

Work plan  is to include:

  • instructions for the trimming and despatch of felled branches from the work site

and may include:

  • type
  • size
  • length
  • quantity
  • grade
  • instructions for the environmental monitoring of work and procedures
  • environmental care requirements relevant to the work

Appropriate personnel  may include:

  • supervisors
  • suppliers
  • clients
  • colleagues
  • managers

Trees  may include:

  • native species
  • imported species
  • plantation trees
  • non-plantation trees

Trimming  is to include:

  • cutting off branches, burls and other small growths at a height requiring the use of a pole saw

Equipment  is to include:

  • procedures for pole saw lock-out, such as protecting operators and co-workers from accidental injury by isolating the machine

and may include:

  • pole saws
  • specific safety attire
  • maintenance tools and equipment

Pre-startup checks 

are conducted to ensure:

  • equipment has been set up correctly
  • systems are performing accurately
  • equipment is operating to optimum performance

Communication  may include:

  • verbal and non-verbal language
  • constructive feedback
  • active listening
  • questioning to clarify and confirm understanding
  • use of positive, confident and cooperative language
  • use of language and concepts appropriate to individual social and cultural differences
  • control of tone of voice

Environmental conditions  may include:

  • ground growth
  • ground slope
  • ground hazards
  • obstacles

Conditions  may include:

  • location of the tree in determining safety for trimming conditions
  • stability of the tree in determining safety for trimming conditions

Pole saw  is to include:

  • mechanised saw at the end of a long extension pole from the bottom of the pole

and may also include:

  • manual saws
  • non-mechanised saws

Splitting  is

the branch tearing away part of the tree bark beneath the branch, once the branch releases from the result of cutting

Clearing  may include:

  • recycling cut branches
  • redirecting cut branches for energy recovery

Records and reports  may include:

  • tree type
  • size
  • length
  • diameter
  • inspection information
  • grading and labelling outcomes
  • storage locations
  • quality outcomes
  • hazards
  • incidents
  • equipment malfunctions

and may be:

  • manual
  • a computer-based system
  • other appropriate organisational communication system


is the fast moving component surrounding the pole saw blade, containing many linked teeth

Dealing with  may include:

  • recycling chain and other components that need replacing
  • re-using chain and other components that need replacing
  • sending chain and other components that need replacing to landfill

Unit Sector(s)

Not Applicable

Competency field

Competency field 

Common Technical