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Log Splitter Safety Advice
Log splitters are an excellent alternative to more traditional methods of splitting wood. They make the task faster and easier, and they are also designed to be safer than using axes, wood mauls or chainsaws. However, these powerful machines can still be a safety hazard if they are not used in the correct way. We have compiled a comprehensive list of factors to take into consideration before you use your log splitter.
- Read the manual This is the most important point, as you need to be familiar with your log splitter before you attempt to use it. Make sure you understand the instructions and the controls so that you can quickly stop the machine during operation if necessary. Anyone else who uses the log splitter should also read the manual first – do not lend the machine to a person who is not familiar with its use and safety procedures.
- Keep away from children Do not allow children under the age of 16 to operate the log splitter. Children over the age of 16 should be trained and supervised at all times.
- Keep spectators and helpers safe Many accidents occur when more than one person is operating the log splitter. The operator should be the only person within ten feet of the log splitter when it is in use, and you should wait for any helpers to stand at least ten feet away and indicate that they are ready before you to begin. Keep bystanders, children and pets at least twenty feet away. As well as looking out for others, ensure you also stand back during operation, and do not attempt to operate the machine while under the influence of alcohol or on medication.
- Wear safety equipment and dress appropriately Safety glasses, heavy duty gloves and heavy work boots should always be worn to protect you from flying pieces of wood and falling logs, as debris will come off logs when they have been split. Never wear jewellery or loose clothing that may become entangled in the moving parts of the machine, and keep long hair tied back.
Prepare the Area
- Ensure the log splitter is stable Do not operate the machine on slippery surfaces such as mud or ice. Make sure the machine is on a level surface before operating and that you have enough room to work. Block the machine to prevent it from moving, and lock it in position. The machine should be positioned at a comfortable height.
- Operate in a dry and uncluttered area Nearby items are at risk of being damaged by logs or debris, so keep the surrounding area clear. You should also ensure that the area is dry, and moisture-proof all outside electrical plug connections in case of short circuiting.
Prepare the Log Splitter
- Check for loose fittings Ensure that screws, nuts, bolts, hydraulic fittings, hose clamps and latches are tightened.
- Clear debris from moveable parts after use After turning off the power source, clear debris from the engine cylinder, cylinder head fins, recoil starter cover, and muffler areas.
- Make any adjustments when the power is turned off Do not attempt to adjust or repair the machine while it is still running. If the log splitter is in a poor state of repair, do not use it until it is in proper working order. You also should never tamper with the engine to make it run faster, as this could cause the maximum engine speed to climb above safety limits.
Prepare the Wood
- Cut logs with square ends prior to splitting This will prevent the ram from being damaged, wood from flying from the machine, and the log from sliding out of position. If logs are not cut square, re-trim as square as possible and place the longest portion of the log inside the splitter, facing towards the beam and the wedge. The square side should be placed at the end plate and the log should be as central as possible.
- Examine your logs Ensure there are no nails, knots or foreign objects in the log, and cut any branches flush with the trunk.
- Only use in well-lit areas In case of injury, do not use the log splitter at night or in the dark.
- Load logs carefully When loading logs, hold the log in the middle and not by the ends. Do not use your foot to stabilize a log.
- Keep hands clear Keep your hands clear of the space between the log splitter ram and the log, and the log and the wedge of the log splitter. You should also keep your fingers away from any cracks that open in the log during splitting, as these can close quickly and cause injury.
- Do not cut anything but wood The machine should only be used for its original intended purposes. Attempting to insert foreign objects may result in injury or damage to the machine. Never attempt to split more than one log at a time.
- Always use the guards The guards improve the safety and performance of the machine, and should be used at all times.
- Pay close attention to the machine Do not try to load a log into the splitter until the log pusher has completely stopped. Never leave the machine unattended while the engine is running.
- Stand safely Keep a balanced stance when operating the log splitter, and do not overreach, stand on the machine, or use it as a step. Use both hands to operate the controls, and only operate the ram control of the log splitter lever by hand.
Using Vertical Log Splitters
- Ensure the log is stable before moving the control Place the log on the end plate and turn it until it is stable against the beam. When splitting large or uneven logs, stabilise them with wood chips or split wood wedges between the log and end plate or ground.
- Keep clear To avoid injury, always stand behind the machine at the controls area before operating the ram.
Using Hydraulic Log Splitters
- Check hydraulic oil levels Be sure to check that the hydraulic oil tank and engine reservoir are at the correct levels, in accordance with your machine’s specifications.
- Open air release valve Some hydraulic machines have an air release valve that should be opened before use and closed afterwards.
- Check for fluid leaks before operation Hydraulic oil seeping through a pin hole opening can penetrate your skin and cause blood poisoning, gangrene or death. As log splitters inherently leak hydraulic oil, you should place the splitter away from concrete or sites where spills will do damage and wear heavy duty gloves.
- Clear up and store carefully Clean the unit after each use and disconnect the spark plug lead. Store inside if possible, or cover the machine completely if it is stored outside.
Special Considerations For Petrol Log Splitters
- Operate with care Take great care when handling petrol and only operate or refuel the machine in an open, ventilated area free from flames, sparks or where people are smoking.
- Never fill the log splitter petrol tank while the engine is running or still hot Wait for the engine to cool down before refuelling.
- Store safely Allow the engine to cool before storing the log splitter in any enclosure. Store it in a garden shed away from the house, and never store it indoors with fuel in the tank.
Towing Your Log Splitter
- Do not try to move your log splitter over hilly or uneven ground without a tow vehicle.
- Turn off the fuel supply before towing the machine.
- Attach securely Ensure that your log splitter is securely attached to the towing vehicle before moving.
- Drive carefully Do not exceed 35mph when towing your log splitter, and make sure you allow for the added length of the machine, particularly when turning and parking. Do not carry any wood on your log splitter while it is being towed.
- Always disconnect your log splitter from your towing vehicle before attempting to use it.
Now that you are familiar with the safety precautions, why not take a look at the range of horizontal log splitters, vertical log splitters, petrol log splitters and electric log splitters, or have a look at our full range of log splitters. If you need help deciding which one is right for you, take a look at our Guide to buying log splitters.