Safety Tips Injury prevention Machinery

The dangers of wood chippers


Wood chippers and shredders are powerful machines. Ohio State University cautions that the knives used in wood chippers as well as in shredders can easily slice through fresh wood, and the engines are powerful enough to grind tree limbs and entire branches.

“Workers can be pulled into the knives or struck by the chipper disc hood,” OSU notes. Workers should never operate these pieces of equipment without proper training.

Other tips OSU offers on wood chippers and shredders include:

  • Thoroughly read the machine’s operating manual.
  • Keep the area around chippers or shredders clear of any tripping hazards.
  • Test the machine’s emergency shut-off devices before beginning work.
  • Never use a chipper or shredder when you are working alone.
  • Never stand on a slope to feed items into the machine.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, including a hard hat, slip-resistant footwear, eye and hearing protection, and gloves and pants without cuffs.
  • Keep shirts tucked into pants and sleeves buttoned.
  • Never throw metal, stones or other foreign objects into the machine.
  • Mark any defective machine with a “Do not use” tag and lock it out, if possible.
  • Do not use a machine with damaged knives. Have them repaired by a qualified technician.

Three additional safety precautions to share with workers, courtesy of OSHA, are:

  • Learn as much as possible about the machine you will be operating. Workers who are unsure about something should stop and ask a supervisor before continuing a task.
  • It may be tempting to take shortcuts, but do not. In an instant, an incident can leave you permanently disabled or kill you.
  • Never operate a chipper or shredder under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are on medication, check with your health care provider before operating heavy machinery to be sure you can do so safely.