Wood chippers can be extremely dangerous, with blades generally running at between 1,000 and 2,000 revolutions per minute, combined with a powered feed mechanism, an accident can easily cause injury to you or your employees if it is not operated correctly.
Should one of your employees suffer injury during their work, they could seek compensation against you and subsequent claims under the employers’ liability section of your Tree Surgeon Insurance.
Risk Assessments Are Key
As an employer, you have a duty of care for the safety and well-being of your employees. With that in mind, you should ensure that you carry out adequate risk assessments and training on wood chippers and other tools of the trade.
All risk assessments and training should be documented and stored for future reference, as you may need to rely on these should you suffer a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation or insurance claim.
The following tips may help you to build your risk management framework and develop an injury-free environment when working with wood chippers.
When dealing with moving parts such as the blades, feed rollers and chip discharge spouts, engineering controls are the first line of defence against injury.
Make sure machine guards are in place and properly secured before operation to protect your workers' body from contacting rotating parts and flying woodchips. Under no circumstances should guards be tampered with or removed, this can be a common cause of a liability claim, particularly if the chipper becomes blocked.
Employees should be carefully trained with operation of the feed control bar, bottom feed stop bar, panic bar or emergency pull ropes in case of disaster.
Protective Wear and Processes Employees
- Employees should wear appropriate uniforms and not loose-fitting clothes, and hair should be tied back.
- One-piece coveralls, earplugs, safety goggles, hard hats and non-gauntlet gloves during operation should be mandatory.
- Full-face shields and a protective helmet should be deployed to prevent head injuries.
- Before starting the chipper, the disc hood should be closed, latched and clearly checked that there are no foreign objects in the in-feed area.
- Designate one or more employees (or yourself) to be on “safety watch” duty – Standing near the emergency shut-off devices while the employee feeds material.
Safe Operation Tips for Employees
- Always stand to the side of the in-feed chute when loading the chipper.
- Do not place your hands or feet beyond the curtain guard while the blades are on - use a push stick or brush to force material through.
- Do not feed small debris through the chipper, and check all material for metal objects before loading.
- Feed branches butt-end first and place shorter branches on top of longer ones when feeding.
- Exercise care when chipping dead or frozen timber to prevent kickbacks.
- Never stand in front of the feed table when the machine is running.
FREE Insurance Review
Insync specialises in cover for SME’s across the UK. Our bespoke Public Liability Insurance policy for Tree Surgeons does not have a height limit and also offers the ability to include machinery, tools and plant such as wood chippers.
You can request a Tree Surgeon Insurance quote online, alternatively, why not book a free review with one of our expert Gurus at a time that suits your diary.