Wood Chipper Safety

Wood Chipper Safety

How to Safely Use a Chipper Shredder

Dale, the Power Equipment Expert
Power Equipment Expert

Watch what a wood chipper can do to a tree branch, and you'll know why safety precautions are extremely important.

Although wood chippers are helpful machines, they're also dangerous machines, especially when used improperly.

The basic steps are key: follow all safety guidelines, keep your hands and limbs out of the hopper, and learn how to stop or reverse the machine in the case of an emergency.

However, here are some other tips to help you stay safe while using a chipper.


Avoid Loose, Dangly Items

No Loose ClothingWearing loose clothing increases your risk of getting caught in the chipper and pulled toward the blades.

Instead, wear fitted clothing, button your long-sleeve shirt cuffs, and make sure you remove any items that could get caught in the machine:

  • Jewelry
  • Belts
  • Straps
  • Ties
  • Gauntlet-style work gloves

Also, if you sport long hair or a long beard, it's a good idea to tie it up or otherwise secure it. Tuck hair beneath a hat or use a hair tie, and consider a beard net for your chin.


Wear Protective Equipment

Chipper Safety GearPutting on the proper chipper safety gear is one of the simplest but most effective steps you can take before you start to work.

Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from small particles being thrown around by the blades. In addition, wear ear protection to protect your hearing while working around the high volume noise being produced by the chipper.

Always make sure to wear a hard hat to protect your head from the impact of high-speed splinters, chips, and chunks of wood that may be thrown back at you by the blades. 

Finally, because you'll be carrying wood to the chipper, it's a good idea to wear steel-toed safety boots to protect your feet.


Stick to Lighter Loads

Chipping Light LoadsFeeding excessively large pieces of wood and debris into a chipper increases your risk of injury.

The high speed of the wood chipper can cause materials to discharge backwards. Overloading the chipper with large bits of wood can cause larger materials to be ejected, resulting in blunt force trauma.


Feed the Chipper Carefully

Chipper Feed Chute SafetyUse a long branch or pole, such as a broomstick, to push materials into the chipper. This prevents you from having to move your hands near the blades.

Avoid the feed chute area and stay out of the hopper! There is no such thing as a minor accident when it comes to working with wood chippers. All accidents are detrimental! 

One moment's distraction could get you pulled into the machine, so stay focused whenever you're feeding materials into the hopper. If using a commercial-grade chipper, work with a partner who can activate the safety lock in case of an emergency.


Keep the Area Clean

Sweeping Leaf DebrisWhile it grinds, chips, and shreds, your wood chipper will create debris, specifically sawdust. That debris will pile up around the hopper where you're working.

To avoid slipping or tripping in the debris, keep your area clean as you go. Don't allow debris to pile up. Sweep it away from the hopper.

A few quick safety precautions can spare you a lifetime of pain and injury. Make sure that you practice safe chipping, and you'll be able to enjoy all the power and convenience your chipper affords.


NEXT: What NOT to Put in a Wood Chipper

Dale, the Power Equipment Expert
Power Equipment Expert
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