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How to Use a Wood Chipper Safety Checklist

Robyn Neath

by Robyn Neath | June 17, 2022 | Reading time: 6 minutes

A wood chipper safety checklist helps ensure the safe operation of wood chippers and prevent accidents. In this article we explain to you how a wood chipper is used appropriately and how a checklist can keep you safe during operations.

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What is a Wood Chipper Safety Checklist?


Wood chippers are, by design, powerful enough to cut through wood and are therefore dangerous machines that need to be handled with utmost care. As their engines have the power to grind tree limbs, branches and trunks into wood chips and a torque powerful enough to pull in 20 inches of wood per second, it is important to make anyone who operates such machines aware of the danger they are facing.


The operator of a wood chipper manually pushes the wood through the hopper collar or infeed chute. This is especially dangerous and must be performed carefully since the wood chipper’s blades can grab anything that they can reach including arms, fingers, rope, or jewellery.


Wood chipper accidents can happen if you operate the machine without understanding the wood chipper safety checklist and manufacturer’s manual. A wood chipper safety checklist assists the users of wood chippers and makes them more aware of the potential dangers they are facing. This way they can operate the machine safely and avoid accidents. A safety checklist must therefore include steps that will help prevent or minimize personal injury, as well as damage to property.


All operators must be knowledgeable about wood chipper safety procedures before they use the machine. It must be noted, however, that a wood chipper safety checklist is not a substitute for the manufacturer's safety and operating manuals. The operator must read and understand both the manual and the safety checklist before using a wood chipper.



In this article, you will learn:


1. 10 Wood Chipper Tips For Maximum Safety And Awareness


2. Wood Chipper Safety Training Tips for Supervisors


3. How A Digital Checklist Can Keep Your Workers Safe From Wood Chipper Hazards



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10 Wood Chipper Safety Tips: How to Use A Wood Chipper For Maximum Safety


As with any heavy machinery and dangerous equipment, there are best practices that you must follow to avoid accidents when operating a wood chipper. You should include these in your wood chipper safety checklist to raise awareness and increase understanding of the danger of operating such machinery.


The following 10 elements should be included in your wood chipper checklist and be distributed and made available to your employees. However, these tips serve mainly as a guideline and should always be cross-checked with your wood chipper’s operating manual and adjusted and added to whenever necessary.


  1. Check the tension belts
    Check the tension of the belts before using the wood chipper for the first time. After running the chipper for 10 to 15 minutes, check the tension belts once again to make sure they have not loosened. For future use, it is important to check the belts before each chipping session.
  2. Wear the right safety gear
    Wear eye and hearing protection whenever you are operating or working near a wood chipper. Your clothes must be close-fitting and you must have a helmet or hard hat on. Avoid pants and gloves that have cuffs and wear steel-toed boots as part of your PPE. Never wear jewellery, and if you have long hair or a beard, make sure to tie it up in order to avoid injuries.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the machine
    Read the operating manual, as it is important to know the machine before using it. You must be familiar with the safety controls and the proper way to start and shut it down. In the case of an emergency, you must be able to stop or reverse the wood chipper before turning it on.
  4. Inspect the machine before each use or at the start of each shift
    Before using the wood chipper, make sure the infeed chute does not contain foreign objects that could damage the equipment or cause harm to you or any bystanders. Make sure the bolts and pins are not loose and inspect all parts for signs of wear and damage. Damaged or worn knives can lead to clogs and kick objects back which can hit and hurt the operator.
  5. Check the guards
    Make sure the guards are not missing, as many accidents related to wood chippers are caused by the absence of guards or safety devices malfunctioning. OSHA requires wood chippers to have one or more guards in place that can protect workers from flying debris.
  6. Check the discharge chute
    Make sure the discharge chute is facing away from people and traffic.
  7. Pay attention to the emergency shut-off
    Make sure there is someone near the emergency shut-off switch when the machine is running. The operator won’t be able to reach the safety device if he gets caught in the wood chipper. It is not advised to work with a wood chipper alone, but to always have a safety buddy assisting operations.
  8. What should you not put in a wood chipper?
    Make sure the wood you insert into the machine does not contain foreign objects. Materials other than wood must never be thrown into the machine. Only insert wood of the right size. Don’t feed the wood chipper with pieces that are larger than is required.
  9. Positioning
    Always stand to the side of the infeed chute.
  10. Feeding the infeed chute
    Use a pushing device or long branch to push wood into the infeed chute and never use your hands to do so. Immobilize the disc or roller before you change the chipper blades or clear the infeed chute.

Modern wood chippers already have engineering controls that make them safer to use. There are feed tray extensions, feed control bars, rubber curtains, panic bars, emergency pull ropes, and more. You must familiarize yourself with these safety features, but a wood chipper safety checklist is still important. Always follow best work practices and precautions.



Fire Wood

Employers’ and Supervisors’ Safety Checklist


Staff trainings are important in most industries, however, when operating a machine as potentially harmful as the wood chipper, such a training becomes even more indispensable. As a supervisor, employer, or safety and health coordinator it is your duty and responsibility to make sure your employees are safe when they are working with a wood chipper. These are some of the recommended items that should be included in your wood chipper safety procedures:


  1. Train your employees so they can properly start, operate, and shut down the wood chipper. The training must include how to use safety devices, winch lines, and feed wood to the chipper.
  2. Make sure operating and maintenance instructions for each wood chipper model are available to your employees.
  3. Make sure manuals and wood chipper safety checklist are in a language that your employees can read and understand. This is especially true if you have employees who speak little to no English.
  4. Supervise new hires or new wood chipper operators to make sure that they follow safety protocols when operating the machine. Perform regular safety talks and unannounced site visits. When you see employees engaging in unsafe work practices, make sure to take immediate corrective action such as disciplinary measures and refresher training.
  5. Know what kind of PPE is required for operating a wood chipper. Provide safety gear such as gloves, helmets, hard hats, steel-toed boots, pants, and close-fitting long-sleeved shirts. Never allow jewellery or loose clothing.
  6. If your wood chippers have winch lines, train your employees so that they can avoid “pinch point” hazards.
  7. Make use of the buddy system and have at least one person stand by the emergency shut-off devices and feed handle while the main operator uses the wood chipper. Check the manufacturer’s manual for recommended precautions.


Create Wood Chipper Safety Checklists With A Digital Software


With Lumiform’s checklist app you can easily create and provide your employees with a detailed wood chipper safety and instruction checklist they can take with them wherever they go. This way, they can perform self-checks before each wood chipper use on the go from a smartphone or tablet – online or offline. Collect data on your equipment in the field and reduce errors and threats for employees at the same time.





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Robyn Neath

Robyn Neath

Robyn started her writing career after receiving her screenwriting diploma from InFocus Film School in Vancouver, BC. She has since worked for esteemed sports, casting, and news organizations. When she isn’t concentrating on generating content with Lumiform, she enjoys working on her sitcom scripts and entering them into writing competitions. She has a strong interest in the arts, and can usually be found re-watching Frasier or stumbling her way through The New Yorker’s daily crossword.

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