III. Safety Guidelines for Hand Tools


  1. Many types of hand tools are used on logging operations. These tools vary from axes and pickaroons to files, wrenches, and other small hand tools which are used to repair and maintain logging equipment and vehicles. Personal safety is very important when using hand tools.
  2. Employers shall assure that each hand and portable powered tool, including any provided by an employee, is maintained in serviceable condition.


In recent years the frequency of axe related injuries has declined, due to mechanization of logging operations. Nevertheless, loggers still use axes, and improperly used, they can cause serious injuries.

  1. Proper personal protective equipment (shin guards, etc.) shall be worn when using an axe.
  2. Always keep the axe sharp. A sharp, well honed axe is safer to use. A dull axe may glance off wood and strike the user.
  3. Make sure the handle is clean and free of cracks or splits and the axe head is securely fastened to the handle.
  4. Before swinging the axe, check the surrounding area to ensure that overhanging brush, limbs, trees, and other obstructions are clear of the swing path.
  5. Position feet firmly so you can swing the axe naturally. Maintain a firm grip on the handle with both hands. Be sure the follow through is not in line with feet or legs. Maintain a safe distance from other workers.
  6. Swing the axe like a baseball bat, not like a pendulum. Always swing away from your body and toward the cut.
  7. When limbing stand with the tree trunk between you and the limb being cut.
  8. Do not use the axe to pull logs. The axe is a cutting tool, with the blade designed to pull out of wood when the handle is pulled. It cannot do the work of a pickaroon.
  9. When carrying the axe grasp the handle directly behind the head and carry it with the blade pointing down or away from the body. Never carry the axe with the blade on your shoulder.
  10. When the axe is not in use place it in plain view a safe distance from the work area with the axe blade protected by a sheath or metal guard.

Many of these safety guidelines apply when using machetes, brush hooks, and other hand held cutting tools.


  1. Pickaroons should be kept properly shaped and securely fastened to the handle. The heads of pickaroons must be properly shaped or the user runs the risk of pulling free of the stick of pulpwood. The point should be sharp so it will cut through the fiber and hold firmly until the handle is twisted for removal. The pickaroon head should be bolted directly to the handle to reduce the possibility of the head pulling loose from the handle.
  2. Check the handle for splitting and cracking. Replace broken, split, or faulty handles before use.
  3. Use both hands to control the pickaroon. Always reset the pickaroon on each pull.



  1. Files should be equipped with proper handles and knuckle guards.
  2. Dull files should be replaced.
  3. Keep files clean of oil and grease.
  4. Properly store the files to prevent rust or damage.


  1. Face adjustable wrench jaws in the direction of pull to avoid hand injuries.
  2. Grip firmly before pulling hard; then pull toward yourself and at right angles to the wrench.
  3. Wrenches or other small tools should not be used on machinery in motion.
  4. Properly store wrenches and small tools to prevent damage. All tools used on a logging operation should be regularly cleaned and checked for safe operation.