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!

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