Wood chippers are a very efficient machine to use when chopping and destroying branches, removing brush and twigs, and turning these items into mulch. How does a wood chipper accomplish this? By chopping these items into tiny pieces by knives within the machine. No doubt that the wood chipper is efficient at its give job. What else is it efficient at? Unfortunately it is also very efficient at causing injuries. From amputations to fatalities, the wood chipper is a machine that requires training to operate it safely.
Here are the three keys to keep in mind when operating a wood chipper:
Key #1: Wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
Wood chipper operators should wear gloves, ear plugs, hardhats, and safety glasses. These items will keep eye, hand and hearing injuries to a minimum. Wood chippers are very loud when they are running. Further, they do spew out quite a bit of sawdust and debris that can get into the eyes. Wearing the proper PPE will ensure a first step towards safety while using this equipment.
Key #2: Never tamper with the guards that are factory installed on the wood chipper
Many employees feel that the factory provided machine guards make their jobs harder. They feel that the tree branches are too difficult to put through while the guard is in place. Obviously, that guard was put in place to ensure that body parts, specifically arms and fingers, do not end up in the machine. Employers should strongly consider disciplining employees who tamper with the machine guards.
Key #3: Give training and safety education to your employees at least annually
Ever year without fail, your employees who use a wood chipper should be provided a refresher safety training on the use of the machine. This should include visual instruction and a written test. You should also ensure that attendance is made mandatory. Further, any new employee who is hired should be provided the training immediately upon hire, but certainly before they use the wood chipper.