Wood Chipper Shredder Safety Guidelines

Anytime you are operating heavy-duty machinery such as a wood chipper shredder, you should do so with utmost caution and attention. Whether you are using a PTO wood chipper, gas-powered chipper, or an electric chipper, it is important to understand everything you can about your chipper shredder and the way in which the chipper utilizes power. If you are prepared to clear limbs and branches and create wood chips, consider the following safety guidelines. 

Woodchipper Safety #1: What to Wear

Before concerning yourself with the woodchipper, you must first consider yourself. It is necessary to protect your body when operating woodchippers so make sure to wear the following essential clothing and equipment:

  • Tight-fitting clothing -- Make sure all the clothing you are wearing is fitted to your body and nothing is hanging loose. Anything baggy runs the risk of being snagged on a branch being fed into the machine, or even being caught in the machine itself. This could result in serious injury, so never operate the machine while wearing any baggy or loose clothing items.
  • Long pants -- A high quality pair of long pants will safeguard your legs from small scrapes or cuts that would be caused by high-speed chips flying out of the machine.
  • Heavy duty boots -- Invest in a pair of work boots with a hardened steel toe. If that is not possible, wear boots made of thick leather material to protect against wood chips and sharp branches.
  • Safety glasses -- You must guard your eyes and other areas of your face while operating a wood chipper shredder. Consider protecting your face completely with a face shield, similar to what you’d see a woodworking lathe operator using, or at a minimum a pair of regulation safety glasses you can find at most hardware stores. 
  • Earplugs or earmuffs -- Woodchippers are typically louder than most tools so you must preserve your hearing. Whether or not you are commonly exposed to loud noises from tractors or other farm implements, you should wear ear protection while operating machinery creating any forms of loud noises. You may cause permanent damage even from moderately loud noises over prolonged periods of work, and hearing does not easily recover.
  • Work gloves -- Protect your hands from sharp objects on your wood chipper shredder or from limbs, logs, or other wood by wearing work gloves at all times.
  • Hard hat -- Consider a hard hat to guard your head for further and complete protection.

Wood Chipper Safety #2: Secure the Chipper Shredder and the Surroundings

Before you are set to begin operating a chipper shredder, examine the chipper and the environment surrounding the operation of the chipper. 

  • Ensure your woodchipper is placed on level ground. Make sure the ground is completely secure as well. 
  • Clear the ground and surrounding area of operation for any type of debris or material that could cause you to lose your balance, trip, or slip while using the chipper. 
  • Inspect your woodchipper before use. Tighten all nuts and bolts that may become loose during previous operations, and make sure all wood chipper parts are in working order. 
  • If you’re operating a gas or electric chipper, secure the truck or trailer you might be using. If you have a PTO wood chipper, confirm there are no issues with the point hitch and everything is in proper working conditions with your tractor. 
  • Read our Pre-Operation Checklist for more.

Wood Chipper Safety #3: Feeding Procedures 

Safely feeding material through your woodchipper using the self-feeding or hydraulic system should be your next objective. If for any reason you become impatient or distracted while using your PTO wood chipper, it could result in damage to the hydraulic feed, or more importantly, damage to your person.

  • Feed wood through your chipper only when the hydraulic infeed is at full operating speed. If it is moving too slow it may cause the machine to bind.
  • Feed branches while standing on the side of the discharge chute. Doing so will limit the risk of being caught in the machine. 
  • Keep hands and feet out of the feed chute. And as mentioned above, make sure to wear only tight-fitting clothes.
  • If you have smaller pieces of material, use a longer branch to help feed them into the infeed chute. Do not use any feed assistance (push sticks) that are made from something other than wood.
  • Release and let go of the material as soon as the wood chipper shredder’s feed roll begins to pull it into the woodchipper. Again, if there is any need to push materials, simply guide the material with a stick or other piece of wood only.
  • Feed the materials into the chute with the large end going into the wood chipper shredder first. 

While the Jinma wood chipper shredder is rated up to 8” in diameter, be sensible about how bulky and significant your material is. Consider pre-cutting larger pieces to keep them more manageable.

Woodchipper Safety #4: Beware of ALL Moving Parts

If you need to inspect your woodchipper, confirm that it is off before doing so. In fact, the best practice is to remove the keys from your tractor’s ignition to ensure that the PTO driven wood chipper has no power coming from the PTO shaft that the chipper utilizes.

  • Keep hands and feet away from all moving parts. Once again, confirm there is no power going to the machine before nearing any chipper blades or other parts.  

  • Do not clear clogs without shutting off the tractor. This is important to remember as you may want to continue making progress. It may be an easy slip of judgment to reach for a stuck piece; however, it is impossible to ensure if that piece is bound in a way that could cause it to suddenly snap free and hit or grab you. Always shut it off.

  • Maintenance. If you need to replace parts on your wood chipper shredder, make sure you have fully removed them from the tractor. Whether it’s changing chipper blades, adjusting or replacing belts, lubricating any parts, or cleaning out the feeding or discharge chutes, be sure to use caution at all times. 

In the event of any type of emergency on injury while operating a wood chipper shredder, please immediately contact 911 or an emergency provider for assistance. If you experience any maintenance issues or you’d like to learn more about PTO Wood Chippers, you can contact the Circle G customer service team toll-free at 855-330-5272. If you already have the Jinma Wood Chipper, refer to your Limited Warranty information for any questions on what issues are covered under your three-year warranty or give us a call. Read more on the Jinma Wood Chipper if you’re still wondering which PTO Wood Chipper you should purchase.