It seems like it should be a “no brainer” to not use your feet to help push things into machines that shred materials, but it happens. Approximately 50% of those injured when using a wood chipper are sucked feet first into the machine. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics tracks injuries and fatalities for many occupations. Statistics for the last several years indicate about 100-130 non-fatal injuries occur while operating wood chippers with fatalities typically in the 5 to 10 per year range.
Wood chipper injuries can be reduced with some simple rules:
- When you are working to clear a clogged chute, make sure that the machine if fully shutdown before opening the machine up. A worker in Maine was fatally injured when he attempted to open a chipper before it was fully shut down.
- Make sure to operate chippers in teams of at least two individuals. These team members should be close enough to monitor each other, in the event that the machine needs to be shutdown.
- Load smaller pieces on top of larger pieces – or use larger branches to push the shorter branches through the hopper.
- Put twigs and other small branches directly into the truck instead of running them through the chipper.
- Stand to the sides (specifically the side with the shutoff controls) of the hopper when feeding materials rather than in front of the hopper.