Thursday, 14 July 2011

General Outdoor Cutting & Tool Safety

Here is a document compiled by members of the Bushcraftuk comunity forum regarding General Outdoor Cutting Tool Safety. It does not in anyway mean to preach correct ways of doing certain things, but highlights some of the day to day happenings that may cause friction between individuals, and raises some issues that some people may have with how people conduct themselves. Its aim is to try and create a better harmony and peace around camp while out bushcrafting with others. It is for you to use common sense and is in no way a document, on how to conduct yourselves. I or the Bushcraft community take no responsibility for you actions when using tools.

General Outdoor Cutting Tool Safety.
  • Before using any cutting tool make sure you know where your first aid kit is and how to use it.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the work you are doing. Stout boots and no loose dangling clothing is a good start.
  • Inspect the tool for damage or loose parts. Do not use a damaged or loose tool without repairing it properly first.
  • Use cutting tools in a well lit area. Avoid using cutting tools after dark or after drinking alcohol, plan to do all chopping of firewood in daylight.
  • If you drop your cutting tool, let it fall – do not attempt to catch it.
  • Do not fool around, run or move through rough ground with an exposed cutting tool.
  • Never throw a cutting tool to anyone. When passing an open or exposed cutting tool to another person, hold it by the back of the blade with the cutting edge away from your hand. Place the handle of the tool in the other person’s hand. Make sure they have a firm hold before you release your grip.
  • When putting a cutting tool down, make sure the blade is in a safe position if you or any other person were to accidentally fall upon it.
  • If you are going to leave the tool, put it in a sheath, fit a blade cover or fold it up safely. Never assume other people know it is there.
  • If there are any children or non responsible people around do not leave a cutting tool where it can be easily picked up.
  • Do not dig cutting tools into the ground or leave them stuck into wood.
  • Do not throw a cutting tool into trees or the ground.
  • Use a cutting tool in the correct way and always use the correct tool for the job.
  • Keep your cutting tools clean and if they are not Stainless steel keep them oiled and free from rust.
  • A sharp tool is often considered to be a safer tool because less force needs to be applied to cut with. However a sharp tool can also cause a deeper injury if it slips or is misused.
  • Learn how to sharpen your tools correctly and safely.

Knife Safety
  • Only unfold your knife or remove it from its scabbard when you are going to use it. When you have completed your task, put it back in its scabbard or fold it up keeping your fingers away from the folding blade path as you do so.
  • Hold the handle firmly, keeping your fingers away from the cutting edge of the blade. If it is a folding knife, always be aware of the folding blade path even if the blade is supposed to lock open. Such locks have been known to fail.
  • Always try to cut away from your body, face and hands. Before making a cut look at the direction the blade can move in when the cut is completed or if the blade slips. Make sure your fingers, or any other parts of your body, are not in that path.
  • Even if you are only cutting part way into something, always consider what will happen if the blade slips all the way through what you are cutting. Do not rest the item on part of your body.

Axe Safety
  • When using an axe or other chopping tool, check your working area by slowly turning around with the tool in your outstretched hand to make sure there is nothing inside your work area that can be harmed or cause your swing to be deflected. Repeat this check over your head and in the follow through area as well. Your safety area should be twice this radius to allow for flying chips etc. If possible cordon off this area.
  • Use a wooden block at about thigh height under the item you are chopping, this makes the axe more effective and safer. If the block is smaller kneel down to adjust your height.
  • Make sure your body is not in the path of the axe or in any place the axe could be deflected towards.
  • Hold the axe firmly so that it cannot slip or bounce out of your hand while chopping.
  • If you are splitting or chopping something that requires holding in place, make sure your hands, feet or other body parts are well away from the cutting area. If necessary use a small stick to hold the item instead of your hand.
  • Pay careful attention to the position of the item being chopped and the impact point. Will hitting the item cause it to pivot like a see saw? This is a common cause of injury.

Saw Safety
  • Make sure the item being cut is held firmly so that it cannot move down, forward or back.
  • Make sure your body is not in the path of the saw blade.
  • Position the item being cut so that the cut will tend to open up rather than close on the blade causing it to bind. Lubricating the blade with wax or oil will help prevent this.
  • Work out how and where the cut item will fall. Do not cut anything that could fall on you or others. Always remember that a branch or tree under tension is like a spring ready to snap free. Think how dangerous a spring trap is.
  • Starting a saw cut is the most dangerous point. Make sure your hand or other body parts are not in a position to be cut if the blade skips or jumps from its position. Do not guide the saw blade with your finger. If possible keep your hands and fingers behind the saw blade.