Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Wood Chipper

Wood chippers are extremely useful machines. However, they must be used with extreme caution, as improper use can lead to amputations or even fatal injuries. The rotating chopper knives on mobile wood chippers move at rates upward of 1,000 RPMs, making them extremely powerful machines. Here are common mistakes to avoid when using a wood chipper to prevent injuries and increase performance.

Dressing Appropriately

Most chipper accidents involve a person getting caught in the feed mechanism and being pulled into the cutting knives. Avoid this by not wearing loose-fitting clothing or anything with a cuff that may get caught and pulled in. Also be sure to secure your hair, remove any jewelry and keep any loose shirttails tucked in. Never put your hands or feet inside the hopper at any time, even if there is a jam.

Preventing Accident

Thoroughly clean and keep all tripping hazards free from the area around the chipper to prevent falls into the hopper. Always feed the trunk end of branches into the hopper first. Stack shorter branches on top of longer branches when placing them in the chipper to prevent small branches from getting stuck.

If you need to push some branches into the hopper that are stuck, use a longer branch. Never reach your hand into the feed area to push any stuck materials into the hopper. Once the feed mechanism has grabbed the wood, do not hold on to it, but let the machine take the wood on its own. 

Chipper hood guards can also be dangerous, as they can fly off and strike you if they are opened or closed while the chipper knives are on. Before using your wood chipper, inspect all hood pins and hinges and make sure that the hood is latched closed and completely covering the knives. Turn the chipper on at the lowest speed before using it to listen for sounds of broken or loose parts. Do not open the chipper hood until the knives come to a complete stop.