Log Splitter Safety

Safely Use a Log Splitter

Congratulations! You have retired your ax and maul and made the wise decision to save your back and buy a log splitter. Now you want to understand your new equipment and learn how to operate your wood splitter safely.

When operating a log splitter, the most important safety device is the operator. You should always use extreme care when operating a log splitter. Failure to observe safety guidelines could result in serious injury or death.

Hydraulic log splitters are able to amputate hands and feet, and wood fragments can be thrown. Keep clear of any moving parts, and keep hands and feet (if splitting in a vertical position) away from all pinch points.

Log Splitter Safety Gear

Appropriate protective gear should always be worn, including:

  • Gloves
  • Eye and hearing protection
  • Boots

Wearing gloves and clothing that does not expose your skin is a must.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Do not wear loose clothing

Never attempt to loosen or remove hydraulic fittings, hydraulic hoses, filters, or the reservoir cap while the engine is running. Hydraulic fluid can escape and cause serious injury.

Before servicing the hydraulic system, turn off the engine, cycle the valve levers to release system pressure, and allow the fluid to cool. If high pressure hydraulic fluid escapes and injures your skin, seek medical treatment immediately.

hydraulic fluidKeep up with maintenance and inspect before every use.

Your log splitter is a pretty major investment. For that reason alone, it makes sense to keep it in tip-top shape. For safety’s sake, it’s also important to always maintain your splitter in good mechanical condition. Follow all recommended and required service for your engine and hydraulic system, and inspect the condition of the splitter before operating. Do not attempt to operate your splitter if it is need of repair.

Here are some basic things to cover in a pre-operation safety check:

  • Loose hardware: guide plate bolts, coupler screws, engine bolts, muffler secure
  • Engine oil and hydraulic fluid level
  • Condition of hoses: check for leaks
  • Lubricate the sliding blades or push plates as needed
  • Sharpen the blade as needed

A log splitter should only be operated by responsible adults.

It is easier for accidents to occur when more than one person is operating the equipment. Exercise caution and use clear communication when more than one person is engaged in its operation. Observers, children, and pets should stay at least 20 feet away from the work area.

  • Do not allow children to operate.
  • Do not attempt to operate this equipment while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.
  • Do not fill the gas tank when the engine is running or hot. The engine should be allowed to cool before refueling.
  • Do not leave the splitter unattended when the engine running. Turn off the engine before leaving the work area.

Set up a safe work area.

Familiarize yourself with the safe operation of your wood splitter in a safe environment before using it to split wood.

You may be splitting in your back yard, at a job site, or in the woods. No matter where you are, your log splitter should only be operated with proper lighting and on smooth, level ground to reduce the possibility of tipping over and causing an accident. It is always smart to stop splitting before it gets dark. However, if you must split after the sun goes down, use plenty of work lights.

  • Set up on level ground in a well-lit area.
  • Split during daylight hours.
  • Only operate a gas log splitter outdoors and ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Never operate a gas engine in an enclosed area.
  • Engine exhaust contains carbon monoxide which is odorless and deadly if inhaled.

Cut and load logs with care.

Before you are ready to load a log, the pieces you want to split should be cut properly. You should cut both ends of each log as squarely as possible to prevent the log from sliding out of the splitter during operation. When you are ready to place a log in the splitting area, hold it from the sides.

Splitting more than one log at a time is extremely dangerous, so do not try to speed things up by loading multiple logs at a time. When you load your next log, always wait for the rod to fully retract.

  • Make sure log ends are cut well do not exceed the rated length for your splitter.
  • Never load a log by holding it by the ends.
  • Do not split more than one log at a time.
  • Never attempt to place your next log in the splitting area while the cylinder rod is moving.

Always watch what you are doing.

Never take your eyes off the splitter when the cylinder rod is moving (especially when using a valve equipped with auto-return detent) to prevent pinching hands or damaging the log splitter.

As logs are split, gaps will be created between pieces of the log. The log can retain significant spring tension and these gaps can close suddenly. Do not place hands, fingers, or clothing in or near these gaps.

Do not reach across the splitting area while operating the splitter. Always walk around the splitter to reach the opposite side.

Your goal is to create a big pile of wood, and not take a trip to the emergency room while doing it. So, operate your log splitter safely by not rushing the job, keeping fingers and toes out of the way, and wearing protective gear.

If your machine is properly maintained, and you always set up a safe work area, you will enjoy the wood splitting chore for years to come.

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