Worksite Safety and comfort

During the 43 year life of the school, students were bound by the following safety rules which paid off with zero student accidents over the years.

(This page from the past is being left online for information purposes.)

  1. The worksite is always kept in a clean and safe condition, bark, sawdust and wood pieces always raked up and hauled away on the wheelbarrows or sleds. This is everyone’s continuing job so there is nothing for anyone to stumble on.
  2. Class begins at 9:00 am each day, either with a lecture or on the worksite. If you get up early, use your time to sharpen and maintain your tools, or begin work if you like. Some lectures and videos will be held during evenings as well.
  3. Think twice about everything you do. Plan, and ensure that others know what you are about to do.
  4. Always watch what everyone else is doing. Avoid close-calls.
  5. Only Kevlar chainsaw (fully) protective leather or rubber boots with steel toes are ever worn on the worksite.
  6. Chainsaw protective chaps are always worn when working with any tools, including axe, chainsaw, chisels, sander and drawknife. Heavy Carhartt, wool, or denim long trousers are always worn under the chaps – even in warm weather. No shorts or athletic pants.
  7. Keep leather gloves on your hands when using or sharpening any tools, including drawknife, axe, chisels, and chainsaw.
  8. Protective shirts are always worn when doing anything with a chainsaw or electric sander. Denim protective shirts with button fronts are always buttoned up when working with chainsaw or sander.
  9. Hardhats are worn whenever you are on the worksite or any project of any kind around the school. A hardhat is only unnecessary when actually drawknifing logs.
  10. Use eye and ear protection, particularly when sawing, sanding, or pounding nails and log dogs. Sunglasses should only be worn on bright days and if they don’t diminish your vision at all.
  11. Find a comfortable, out-of-the-way, secure situation on a workbench for all sharpening. Always wear leather gloves when doing this.
  12. Keep your personal first-aid kit with your tools on the worksite.
  13. Plan your job carefully – think about it – go slow. Think twice about everything.
  14. Stay at least 12 feet away from anyone operating a chainsaw or axe. 
  15. If you want to say something or ask a question, wave down all the chainsaws (in a horizontal motion) to gain the attention of sawyer’s frontal and peripheral (side) vision. Always do this from the greatest distance possible. Never approach or touch the sawyer!
  16. Probably the most important rule (along with #15): Never startle anyone – in the woods, on the worksite, the sauna, or anywhere else. Try first to get their attention visually and from the front. Or holler from a distance. This is an old rule of the woods. I first learned it in high school shop classes and again in the Navy. Save surprises for Halloween or Christmas.
  17. When using a ladder, be sure angle to ground and building is proper before climbing or allowing anyone else to climb it. Never use a stepladder outdoors – as a stepladder – only as a leaning ladder and only in special circumstances.
  18. The large steel aircraft maintenance ladders are safe, even to the top platform, but be sure they are well-grounded on all four points. A ground-helper’s hands on a railing make them even safer.
  19. Prior to beginning work on a log, make certain it is in a safe, out-of-the-way area so others will not tend to walk unnecessarily close to it. And if you’re the walker, go well around the sawyer.
  20. Fasten your log with dogs or log cleats when working on it.
  21. Yell loudly: “uncleat” or “undog” to get everyone’s attention before removing a dog or cleat. Always keep one hand on a dog while pounding or releasing it.
  22. When rotating a finished log for trying out a fit, always use a peavey or canthook rather than your arms. The easiest and safest way always has to do with using the correct tool. When rotating a log on ground skids, always begin canthook or peavey horizontal and apply pressure downward to prevent rolling the log off the skid. This is easier on your body as well.
  23. Only a couple of people should be working on each log – keep the 12 foot distance.
  24. Before starting your saw, look 360 degrees around you and yell “chainsaw” in your loudest voice. Be sure nobody is approaching or within 12 feet of you.
  25. Start your saw in a safe manner, and never use it above your waist if possible. Throw-starting a chainsaw by holding the rear handle with your right hand and pulling the cord with your left hand (saw held in proximity to and dropping toward your right leg) is not allowed under any circumstances. This is the “angry logger” position and will not be tolerated at the school.
  26. A chainsaw will never be used left-handed for any reason at the school, even for scarfing or saddles – even if you are lefthanded (as is the instructor). A kickback, should it occur, would line up nicely with your face or body.
  27. Never operate your chainsaw if you are not feeling good or if you have not had adequate rest the night before. Any job can wait. Use the time to take extra notes or photos.
  28. When lifting or carrying a log, be sure that all participants are ready, lifting in the correct way, with the legs, and that everyone knows exactly what is going on.
  29. Logs or poles are never dropped or thrown, even a short distance.
  30. Sharpen your peavey, canthook, and timber carrier duckbill points (the first day of the course) so they grab securely.
  31. Cut only perpendicular to the log on notches – do not brush a notch parallel to the log.
  32. Cut only parallel to the lateral grooves with your saw. Do not brush 90 degrees to the log.
  33. Using a power sander to remove waste from a lateral groove is an inappropriate over-usage of a potentially dangerous tool and creates for everyone in the vicinity an excessive amount of breathable toxic sawdust. Use an axe, chisel, handlebar gouge, or curved adze. Make moderate use of the sander  only for saddles, log ends, and smoothing of knots or serious imperfections in the log.
  34. When cutting the lateral groove or channel on the underside of the log, always cut the waste wood into one-foot lengths diagonally while the wood is still in the lateral, rather than pulling out “spears” of wood that will be dangerous to cut up later.
  35. When releasing a log from cleats or dogs, have another person with a peavey or canthook hold the log securely, and yell in a loud voice, “undog” or “uncleat.”
  36. No nails are ever left in boards, nor are they dropped on the ground. When removing nails from wood, put them in your pocket or a tin can.
  37. Log trucks and lifting boom are operated only by the instructor.
  38. No personal vehicles are driven into the building yard at any time, except at beginning and end of course.
  39. Don’t jump from a log pile or machinery. Don’t run on the site.
  40. Cameras, tools, or clothing are never hung, placed inside, on, or under trucks or machinery. Keep tools of all kinds far away from loader truck or flatbeds.
  41. Let the instructor do all operations on the loader truck or crane. Do not  grab or touch the log being lifted and please never try to operate the outriggers on the hydraulic loader truck. The instructor/driver needs to do that himself. In most cases, the loader-operator will be able to steer the log to its destination by himself, utilizing the grapple motor and the jib boom. If there is a reason (and only if you are specifically requested by the loader-operator) to guide the log or truss being placed on skids or the building, fasten the long, looped red and white tag-lines to the ends of the log and then stand clear of the log at all times.
  42. Regard the yellow and black KEEP CLEAR AT ALL TIMES warning signs on the log loader truck, backhoe tractor, and flatbed truck. Stay away from them when they are running.
  43. Clothing or tools are never hung on or next to fire extinguishers or so as to cover 1st aid kits.
  44. During the workday, stow your tools on or under the tool benches – so people will not trip over them. Avoid putting your wheelbarrow or tool sled right by the building project, unless there is ample room.
  45. And speaking of potential tripping, no dogs, even visitors’ dogs, are ever allowed in the building yard or in an area where trees are being dropped or worked on. This includes the resident cat, who can easily be chased away.
  46. Be sure your personal chainsaw fuel and oil cans are labeled and stowed properly.
  47. Refueling and oiling of saws must take place at least 15 feet from the tool shed on a workbench or the ground – never inside the shed, on the steps, or in a pathway.
  48. No axes, saws, gasoline or other tools are kept in or around bunkhouses, cabins or sauna.
  49. Clean your tools and make sure they are sharpened at the end of class each day, or in the morning before class. To make it easy, use one of the saw vises or the regular bench vise for securing your chainsaw while sharpening.
  50. Remember always: if something you are doing seems awkward, difficult, or inconvenient, it is fair to assume that it is also UNSAFE. Stop and think. Ask the instructor. Holding safety discussions is probably the most valuable use of our class time.
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