Wednesday, 25 November 2009

How to use a chipper safely

Chippers can be extremely dangerous machines if not used correctly, it is absolutely essential that anybody using a chipper has the correct training in how to operate the machine.

Initial checks and operations

Before working with the machine, it must be checked that it has been properly changed over from its transportation mode. Ensure that all guards for belts, pulleys, shafts and any other moving parts are secure and there is no damage.

All new machines supplied after 26 June 2005 should comply with BS EN 13525: 2005, older chippers should have been retro-fitted with an infeed protection device supplied by the manufacturers as agreed with the HSE from 31st October 2000. Generally the operators should be protected from contact with the infeed rollers by a combination of reach-distance guarding and a protection device that stops the rollers when moved. For more detailed information see HSE leaflet AIS38.

Ensure that any lock for the chipping components has been disengaged and that the infeed hopper is clear of any materials. Noise warning signs must be in place.

If the machine is driven by a power take-off shaft (PTO) make sure that the shaft is fitted with a guard that complies to EN 1152 and that it fully encloses the shaft along its entire length between the machine and the tractor and that it is in full working order. Another thing to consider is that the PTO speed is within the required range for the machine.

The surface that the machine will be working on has to be as firm as possible and the machine must be stabilised effectively. There must be adequate ventilation and any exhaust fumes are vented into the open air if working in an enclosed space.

Ensure that all access points to the work area have been signed indicating that it is a hazardous site and that unauthorised access is forbidden. If necessary safety barriers should be erected and personnel assigned to keep people away.

PPE requirements

The following equipment must be supplied and used:
• Safety Helmet complying with EN 397
• Eye protection either a mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses complying with EN 166
• Hearing protection complying with EN 352 note that chippers have a higher decibel range than chainsaws we recommend the Sordin EXC 31SNR or Optime II or Optime III Ear Defenders found on our website under Forestry Equipment Tools or Ear Protection for this purpose.
• Gloves
Safety boots with a good gripping sole and ankle support complying with EN 345-1
• Non-snag outer clothing appropriate to the weather conditions, high-visibility clothing complying with EN 471 should be worn where the risk assessment identifies the need, if working on railways it will also need to comply with GO/RT standards you can find these items on our website under Forestry Clothing or Hi Viz.
• A personal first-kit including a large wound dressing as a minimum, we also recommend carrying a pouch of Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation, again, on the website under Forestry / Tools & Accessories.

Operating the Machine

Make sure that the cuffs of gloves are close fitting or tucked into the sleeves of your shirt or jacket. This stops them becoming caught on the material being fed into the chipper. Set the engine speed to the optimum performance level.

Check that the material you are going to chip is free of any stone, metal or other foreign bodies.
Do not stand directly in front of the infeed rollers as material may be ejected. Let go of the material as soon as it is taken into the infeed rollers or chipping components, if there are short pieces to be chipped use a push stick at least 150 cm long to feed the material in.

Never put any part of your body into the infeed hopper while the machine is running. If there are any blockages follow the manufacturer’s instructions for clearing them.

Keep the area of ground around the machine and particularly in front of the infeed hopper clear of any debris to prevent any tripping hazard.

When leaving the machine unattended or whilst undertaking any maintenance, remove the engine start key.


Stop the engine and let it cool, ensure that there is no source of ignition nearby. Use a container with a non drip spout, that is clearly labelled and is suitable for the storage of petrol or diesel.
Ensure that the fuel is stored safely away from direct sunlight and any possible sources of ignition.

Ensure that fuel does not contact the skin or eyes, if there is contact then wash the skin, in the case of contact with the eyes wash out with sterile water immediately and get medical advice as soon as possible.


Always make sure that maintenance is carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Check for wear on the chipping components and knives; always ensure you wear gloves when handling the knives. Before removing any guards or covers or reaching into the infeed hopper, make sure that the engine is switched off, the start key removed and that all moving parts are stationary.

Any knives that are damaged or blunt must be changed or reversed and when worn down to the minimum size specified by the manufacturer they must be scrapped. When new or sharpened knives are fitted, ensure that there is the recommended minimum clearance between the knives and the anvil.

Moving the machine

Make sure that the chipping components are locked and that the start key is removed, secure the infeed hopper and the discharge chute into the transport position. Check the towing bracket then attach to the towing hitch and raise the jockey wheel and secure it. Connect the electrics and safety chain to the towing vehicle and ensure that the load is safe and that there are no people nearby before moving off.

Safe chipping!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All employers have a duty to provide PPE under the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

The definition of PPE is ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety’. This includes safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear, and safety harnesses.

Other regulations cover hearing and respiratory protection, but these need to be compatible with any other PPE provided, so that they do not have a negative impact on each other.

Under the regulations not only does the employer have to supply these items but also has a duty to ensure that they are used correctly and at all times where there are risks to health and safety.

The employer has to assess the equipment provided to ensure that it is suitable for the task and that it is maintained and stored properly.

It is also their duty to ensure that the users are supplied with instructions for use and that these instructions are correctly carried out by the user. Make sure that all users are aware of why it is needed, when it has to be used, the need for keeping it in good repair and that they understand it has to be used at all times where there are risks.

This does not only apply to employees but also to visitors to the site, for example eye protection, safety helmets and high visibility clothing are mandatory for visitors where the work area demands this protection.

This provision of PPE can incur a considerable cost to a company, but the employees cannot be charged for this. If an employee leaves the company and does not return the equipment then to reclaim the cost from the employee it has to be written into the Contract of Employment that this deduction will be made from any wages owed by the company.

Make sure that replacement PPE is readily available, either in stock or you have a supplier that can deliver replacements speedily. If the equipment is lost or damaged then the employee cannot continue to work in that area.

Assessment of suitability

Careful consideration has to be made of the particular hazards in the workplace and the types of PPE that will be required for each one to enable the worker to do the job safely.
It is often useful to ask the supplier which is the best for the particular situation. In some cases it may be that you will need to contact specialists.

Granite Workwear Ltd. has a comprehensive range of suitable PPE on the web site and can always offer advice when needed as to the appropriate equipment for your needs.

There are a number of factors to be taken into account during this assessment:

• Is it appropriate for risks and conditions that could possibly occur? Eye protection that is suitable to eliminate risk of dust getting in the eye will be unlikely to protect against metal or stone fragments and eye protection that is suitable for may not be adequate for use by welders to protect from flash.
• Does the item cause other issues that affect negatively on the overall levels of risk? For example does the PPE cause a negative effect on the build up of heat in the user’s body (heat stress)? If this is the case extended breaks may be required to allow recovery time.
• Can the item be adjusted to fit each individual user without affecting the protection?
• Are there any health issues with the wearer that may affect the use of the equipment?
• Does the use of the equipment required work well in combination? For example does the helmet allow for proper use of ear defenders or does a respirator allow the proper fitting of eye protection?

Hazards and equipment to be assessed

Hazards; chemical splash, dust, chippings, metal fragments or splash, gas or vapour, radiation
Equipment; Safety spectacles, goggles, face shields, visors.

Hazards: vapours, gasses, dust.
Equipment; disposable filtering masks, respirators (half and full face), breathing apparatus.

Hazards; impact from flying or falling objects, head bumping, hair entanglement
Equipment; Helmets, hairnets

Hazards; high or low temperature, weather, chemicals, cuts, impact or penetration, dust, entanglement, static discharge
Equipment; disposable overalls, boiler suits or bib and brace, chainsaw protective clothing, chain mail aprons, waterproofs, thermal garments, flame retardant clothing, anti-static.

Hands and Arms:
Hazards; cuts, abrasion, high and low temperature, vibration, impact, chemicals, electric shock, infection
Equipment; gloves, gauntlets, arm guards, wrist guards, mittens.

Feet and Legs:
Hazards; liquids, temperature, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, chemical and metal splash, abrasion, static discharge
Equipment; Safety boots and shoes with toe and midsole protection, rubber boots, gaiters, leggings, spats

Ensure that any PPE you buy is marked with the ‘CE’ symbol and that it complies with appropriate EN Standards for the use it is intended.

A company must by law have the proper PPE for their employees, but it is not just a case of complying with the legal obligations. The disruption to business caused by absenteeism because of accidents is incalculable, as is the loss of productivity if employees are unhappy with their working conditions. Involve them in PPE selection, make sure they have an input and there will be few problems making them use it. Use the right quality and the employees will feel valued.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Using a rear handled chainsaw

The use of petrol driven chainsaws can be very dangerous if the operator is not trained and practised in its use. We have put together some information on using a chainsaw to help people to understand how one should be handled and some of the regulations that have to be followed.

Firstly there are two types of chainsaw, rear handled and top handled. Top handled chainsaws can only be used when working off the ground i.e. climbing or working on a mobile elevating platform. We will be presenting information on the use of the top handled chainsaw in a later article.

So the use of rear handled chainsaws is for groundwork i.e. felling, clearing of windblow, snedding (removal of small branches from a felled tree) and sectioning of trunks and large branches.

All chainsaw users must be aware of the weather conditions that they are working in and also the dangers of being cut by a saw, hit by falling timber, vibration and noise.

Therefore the first area we will look at is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is required. It should be understood that no PPE can actually protect you 100% against cuts and therefore it is important to remember this and not just rely on the protection but ensure that you are minimising any risk by the application of common-sense and good practice learned during training and from experience.

Items of Equipment:

Leg Protection: The trousers or leggings should incorporate chain clogging material complying with EN 381-5 Class1 you will find these on the Granite Workwear site under Forestry Clothing, we stock a number of items from the SIP range including Hi Vis in both Orange to GO/RT 3279 for use on or near railways and also Yellow, both colours comply with EN 471 class 2.

Outer clothing: These items should be non-snag and in certain cases Hi Vis, the jackets may or may not have cut protection, although that is advisable.

Safety Helmet: this must comply with EN 397 these can be found under Forestry Tools & Accessories.

Eye Protection: this can be either a mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses complying with EN 166.

Hearing Protection: This protection must comply with EN 352; the best way is to use helmet mounted ear defenders for example the Sordin or Peltor products found on the Granite Workwear site.

Gloves: The type of glove required will be dependent on the Risk Assessment and the type of machine being used. Areas to be considered are; protection from cuts from the chainsaw or thorny material cold or wet conditions as well as vibration. For protection against chainsaw cuts the gloves should comply with EN 381-7, for example the Timberland Protimber L available on the Granite Workwear site.

Protective Boots: These must have a good grip sole and also protection in the front vamp and instep complying with EN 20345. We recommend the Haix range to be found under Forestry Footwear on the site.

First Aid Kit: Each person must have a first aid kit on them to include a large wound dressing; we also recommend carrying a pouch of Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Machine Checks

The machine should be checked for the following before use:
  • The stop switch is clearly marked and works.
  • The front hand guard, chain brake, chain catcher and anti-vibration mounts are all undamaged and working.
  • The throttle opens only when the throttle lock is depressed.
  • The saw is fitted with a chain type recommended by the manufacturer and is designed to reduce kickback.
  • The exhaust system and silencer are in a good state of repair.
  • The saw displays the mandatory hearing protection symbol.
  • The equipment is available for sharpening, maintenance and adjustments and a chain cover for use during transportation.
Preparing for work

Operators should not work alone, a risk assessment has been carried out and any significant points are recorded. All personnel involved in the worksite are aware of and comply with the controls in place.

Ensure that a safe method of work has been agreed including a 5 metre distance is maintained between workers and any ancillary equipment.

Ensure that everybody understands the information needed to contact the Emergency Services including directions to the site and access information. Also ensure that the appropriate signage is in place to warn that this is a hazardous worksite.

Ensure that fuel is stored in appropriate containers with non-spill spouts and that it is stored away from direct sunlight and any possible source of ignition. Do not start the chainsaw within 4 metres of the refuelling point.

Starting the Saw

Make sure you are a safe distance from other people and that the saw is clear of obstructions.

When starting from cold, put the saw on the ground and set the controls following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Place one foot on the rear handle and your left hand on the front handle, then pull the starter cord firmly.

From hot the safest way is using a ground start but without using the choke or the half throttle stop controls, however you can use a thigh or knee start; grip the rear handle firmly between the knees grip the front handle with your left hand and then pull the starter cord firmly.

Using the Saw

The saw must be used with the right hand on the rear handle; the thumb of the left hand must be under the front handle.

Check that the chain brake works correctly, use the chain brake when walking on the site or if the saw is not being used for more than 15 seconds. The brake should be applied with the back of the left wrist.

Stop the saw if it is not in use for longer periods.

Be wary of kickback, this is where there is uncontrolled upward and or backward motion of the guide bar. It is usually caused when the nose of the guide bar comes in contact with a log or branch, when the wood being cut pinches the saw chain while cutting, or when the chain catches a piece of metal that may have been ‘buried’ in the wood such as a nail.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Aerial Tree Rescue

Aerial Tree Rescue

Hopefully if the operators adhere to the safe working practices outlined in “Tree Climbing the Safe Way” which we published on 29th October 2009, there will be few occasions when there would be need to undertake Aerial Tree Rescue. However we would like to give some information on how this should be carried out.

Immediate Actions

Everyone involved in Aerial Tree Rescue must have had appropriate training, the most important thing to be aware of is that the rescuer’s safety has to be the immediate priority, there is no sense in ending up with two casualties.

When an injured climber needs to be rescued, immediately make sure that any other members of the work team and anybody who might enter the site are all safe and are not in the area where the rescue is taking place.

One of the most important things to ensure is that there are no overhead cables involved, if the correct procedures for planning the climbing have been carried out then they should not be, however mistakes can happen. If cables are involved then the relevant electricity company must be contacted before doing anything.

It is critical that the casualty’s condition is assessed and the appropriate emergency services contacted, so that they can be getting to the site whilst the rescue is under way. Ensure that they have all the relevant information; location, access problems if any, name of casualty and any known relevant medical history, time of the accident and if any chemicals are involved.


Certain equipment must always be available at the worksite; some of these items are to be found in Forestry Tools & Accessories on the Granite Workwear web site.

First Aid Kit; this should be as comprehensive as possible not just the basic minimum required under the HSE regulations, for example it is useful to have Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Climbing Equipment; a suitable harness, ropes, karabiners, strops and any other equipment that the rescuer has experience of and training in, to assist in climbing safely. Other items would be ladders, climbing irons, ascenders and decenders.

Knife; a sharp knife with a retractable blade that will be able to quickly cut ropes or snagged clothing. However care must be taken when cutting tensioned ropes as this can cause injury to the casualty or the rescuer. Of course it is essential to be careful not to cut the wrong rope and also be careful not to cause cut injuries.

If in the course of the rescue there is a need for further equipment that is not immediately available then this must be sent for, communication should be available at all times by mobile phone or two way radio.


Keep up communication with the casualty if they are conscious, offering reassurance and encourage them to help themselves to get more comfortable if it is appropriate or possible.

Climbing to the Casualty

Choose the most efficient method of climbing to reach the casualty as quickly as possible but also safely. Use whatever climbing aids that you have available and that are appropriate.
Look for hazards for example broken, severed or hanging branches and also the casualty’s equipment that may create risks.

Assess the tree or trees and select the appropriate equipment to remove the parts that may impede a quick and safe rescue. If available use other trained operators to assist in this, but be mindful of not getting in each other’s way.

When you have reached the casualty make an immediate but thorough assessment of immediate needs for first-aid treatment and making them safe.

If there are indications of fractures, crush injuries and most importantly possible spinal injury, if possible wait for medical supervision from a paramedic or doctor.


Maintain close contact with the casualty and monitor any changes in their condition, reassure them and control them if necessary.

Remain securely anchored at all times; it is important not to put your own safety at risk. Make sure that your anchor points are capable of taking not only the load of yourself but of the casualty too.

When bringing down the casualty, it is essential to ensure that you and the casualty descend together to ease their movement through the branches and also enable you to monitor their condition constantly.

Stay with the casualty until he has been safely transported from the site by the paramedics.

After the Incident

Ensure that all personnel have left the site and that it is safe and secure. Take names and contact details of witnesses before they leave.

It is a good idea to take pictures of the site, using a digital camera or mobile phone noting the date and time.

In no circumstances use any of the equipment that has been involved in the accident until it has been thoroughly checked by a competent person.

Notify management of the incident and clearly record all details in the accident register, before reporting the incident to the HSE in accordance with the rules of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).