Seems that every public works crew and tree company routinely uses the large tow-behind industrial chippers. Driving past the scene where these are at work can reveal some scary stuff about how they are used. The state DOT crews are usually decked out in all the correct PPE, face/eye/hearing protection, hard hats, no loose-fitting clothing.
On the local level, the observed safety practices can vary widely—less PPE, smaller crews, some young-looking crew members (don’t take offense everyone looks young to someone 65, okay 66…what I meant is inexperienced workers). Every year, workers with less than one year on the job have the highest number of fatalities/injuries.
Here’s what OSHA says:
- Workers making contact with or being pulled into the chipper.
- Hearing loss.
- Face, eye, head or hand injuries.
Safe Work Practices
- Never reach into a chipper while it is operating.
- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing around a chipper.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions.
- Use earplugs, safety glasses, hard hats and gloves.
- Workers should be trained on the safe operation of chipper machines. Always supervise new workers using a chipper to ensure that they work safely and never endanger themselves or others.
- Protect yourself from contacting operating chipper components by guarding the infeed and discharge ports and preventing the opening of the access covers or doors until the drum or disc completely stops.
- Prevent detached trailer chippers from rolling or sliding on slopes by chocking the trailer wheels.
- Maintain a safe distance (i.e., two tree or log lengths) between chipper operations and other work/workers.
- When servicing and/or maintaining chipping equipment (i.e., “unjamming”) use a lockout system to ensure that the equipment is de-energize.
Every chipper is designed with safety devices for quick shutdown. Do the safety devices work? Do you test them before every use? Can you think of a worse way to go than being dragged into a chipper?? Hint: NO cuffed gloves!
This link is a good video by Vermeer that reviews all the right things about using a machine that could shred my 1964 Corvair (told you I was old, even spell check didn’t know what a Corvair was): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1_zvvf-47w
Tired of hearing about COVID-19? I know many are. I’m grateful my family and both friends have stayed safe, so far. I look at wearing my PPE at work just like the PPE we need to use in public to prevent spreading or catching this stuff; but it won’t be forever, this part is temporary, it shall pass. Patience is needed to see this out so no one in your family or mine must suffer from something totally avoidable. Soon enough we’ll be looking back on the days when social distancing gave us an excuse to not stand next to that co-worker with the gas problem. Here’s a near genius COVID-19 mask option.