Worksafe NSW are investigating an incident where a worker was fatally injured after being dragged into a wood chipper. News.com.au reported that two co workers had walked down the street to see if they could find a motorist to move a car. They left their colleague working by the chipper and when they returned, the man had vanished but a pool of blood was visible.

Woodchippers can be extremely dangerous. In other recent incidents:-

  • a worker had both hands amputated.
  • a worker had both feet amputated.
  • a worker died after a rope caught in the chipper struck him in the throat.
  • a worker had his leg amputated when a rope caught in the chipper wrapped around his leg.
  • a Council worker received significant damage to his hands, arms and top of his head when he was sucked into a chipper.

To reduce the risk of injury or death, as a minimum:

  • Ensure operators are competent to use the chipper.
  • Have Safe Work Procedures in place.
  • Conduct SAO’s (Safe Act Observations) to ensure staff are operating the chipper safely.
  • Ensure staff have read the machine’s operating manual and keep records of competency assessments.
  • Keep the area around chippers or shredders clear of any tripping hazards.
  • Test the machine’s emergency shut-off devices before beginning work.
  • Never use a chipper or shredder when you are working alone.
  • Never stand on a slope to feed items into the machine.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, including a hard hat, slip-resistant footwear, eye and hearing protection, and gloves and pants without cuffs.
  • Wear tight-fitting, short-sleeved clothes when working with a wood chipper. Ensure that your shirt and pants are tucked in and remove anything might get trapped in the equipment like straps, belts, jewellery, ties and other dangling products.
  • Learn as much as possible about the machine you will be operating. Workers who are unsure about something should stop and ask a supervisor before continuing a task.
  • Don’t linger near the wood chipper and immediately step away from the machine once it receives the timber which you just inserted. This decreases the chances of you getting entangled with the wood you fed.
  • It may be tempting to take shortcuts, but do not. In an instant, an incident can leave you permanently disabled or kill you.
  • Never operate a chipper or shredder under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are on medication, check with your health care provider before operating heavy machinery to be sure you can do so safely.