Here you can find important information on avoiding accidents and injuries (to yourself or others). We use a number of potentially dangerous tools on our conservation trips so an awareness of how to use them safely and what to do in the case of an accident is of great importance. However, don’t let this put you off as no prior knowledge or experience is required; safety talks will be given by our Tools and Safety officers at the start of each trip.
If you are very safety conscious then why not take a look at our risk assessment form (left click this link and select “Save as…” to download).
General Tool Safety Notes
- Place tools flat on the floor where they can be clearly seen and so that they pose little danger if you fall on it accidentally. With a pitchfork, make sure the prongs are facing down into the ground.
- When carrying tools hold them down by your side. Be careful when walking down slopes or on slippery surfaces. When you slip your arm may flail outwards.
- All tools with a blue and white tag belong to the society. There should be no confusion as long as any other groups don’t use the same colouring system.
- Sometimes tools (such as slashers and billhooks) need sharpening. Use the sharpening stones found in the yellow bag. Make a circular motion along the edge of the blade.
- Wear gloves to protect fingers. Start by slowly marking a groove into the wood, then saw hard!
- Use them to cut trees/branches bigger than your ungloved thumb. Loppers and billhooks should be used to cut things which are smaller.
- Use them to cut branches that are smaller than the size of your ungloved thumb.
- Wear gloves whilst using them. Loppers are not swinging tools and are made of plastic/metal. Gloves will also protect your hands from brambles.
- When not using them you should place them on the ground. Do not throw them, as it can give the nuts and bolts holding the cutting mechanism in place a jolt and loosen them, making them less effective.
- Hold them by your sides with the blades closed whilst walking. Don’t fling your hands out if you lose your balance.
- If the loppers get stuck or fail to cut through the branch just pull open the blades and have another go. Don’t wiggle the loppers around with the blades closed on the branch as this will damage them and loosen the bolts.
- The curved edge of a billhook is used for stripping branches from large tree trunks. The trunk can then be used as a stake for making hedges. The flat edge can be used to sharpen stakes so that they may be hammered into the ground.
- Gloves should not be worn. The handle is made of wood and a billhook is a swinging tool. Using gloves will diminish your grip on the billhook. This could be dangerous.
- Slashers are used for clearing large areas of plants such as brambles and vinelike vegetation close to the ground.
- Do not wear gloves. The handle is made of wood and a slasher is a swinging tool. Using gloves will diminish your grip on the slasher. This could be dangerous.
- Use pitchforks for placing branches on the fire. They can be used to scrape together the scraps of wood left after trees have been chopped down as well.
- As a pitchfork isn’t a swinging tool gloves are optional.
- Keep your hand on the end of the fork so that you know where it is and can avoid whacking people in the face.
- Cut into the ground by pushing down on the blade with your boot. Try using the thick part of the sole of your boot such as the toes or the heel. The mid-section is generally thin and the spade may cut through your boots.
- Hold onto the ends of them just like with pitchforks.
- Gloves are recommended.