Wood Chipper Safety Guide

Protect yourself with this wood chipper safety guide

5 Tips to Improve Wood and Brush Chipper Safety on your Job Site

Let’s face it: Wood chippers are dangerous. If you don’t treat them with care, you expose yourself to serious risks.

Keeping customers safe is a big part of what we do at Sunbelt Rentals. So here’s a quick guide to prepare you for your machine. 

How to Safely Use a Wood Chipper

Know the risks of operating a wood chipper​

Wood chippers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two universal mechanisms: feed and discharge. These mechanisms control the flow of wood in and out of the chipper knives. 

When a chipper is running, the knives can spin as much as 2,000 times per minute. And the same motion that cuts tree limbs into mulch can be fatal for anyone caught in its path. That’s why it’s crucial to respect the feeding end of the machine and take steps to avoid being pulled in. 

The discharge end can hurt you, as well. Chips and mulch can be ejected from the machine with tremendous force. If you stand in the wrong spot, those pieces can inflict serious harm.  

Brush up on the safety materials and review wood chipper operating procedures​

Wood chippers often come with built-in safety features, many of which are specific to individual models. For instance, some machines come with a touch bar that can shut off the machine in the event of an emergency. 

Before putting the machine to work, familiarize yourself with these features. The operator’s manual is a good place to start, and once you’ve reviewed it thoroughly, make note of all safety warnings posted on the machine.  

Each person who uses the machine should follow the same procedure. That way, whoever is operating the wood chipper knows how to prevent accidents and respond when one occurs. 

Prepare your site and keep it clear

Before you start your wood chipper, minimize tripping hazards by removing debris from the job site. All it takes is one stick or rock in the wrong place, and someone can lose their footing near the machine. That can’t happen, so do a full sweep before you get to work. 

Machine placement is also vital. The machine needs to be on solid ground, and operators need ample room to stay safe. Avoid placing the chipper in a confined space or under power lines. Branches have a natural ability to snag things. Remove any nails or ropes. The more you can keep the work area clean, the better off you’ll be. 

Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)

Chippers work at intense speed with significant force. When chips and mulch come flying out the back end, it’s enough to hurt someone. And you never know when a chip will ricochet and catch you at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) — vision and hearing protection, for instance — is your first line of defense. OSHA often requires employers to supply this equipment when necessary, so be sure to review all applicable standards before beginning work. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

At Sunbelt Rentals, we have a wide selection of wood chippers to fit your needs. We also offer operator training courses, aimed at bringing you up to speed on safety features and best practices. And if you need PPE, let us know. We have everything you need to get the job done, as safely as possible. Contact us now to learn more. 


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