Six of the best

Safety needs to be foremost in the minds of everyone on every job. That concept is simple enough, but even with the best intentions in the world everyone can’t be mindful of every potential hazard. The folks at Vermeer Australia know this as well as anyone, and have offered a few tips on staying safe around arb machinery. For this issue it’s wood chippers.

Trailers and transport

On top of following all commercial transport operation requirements and DOT guidelines, you’ll also want to make sure you’re performing and documenting pre-trip and posttrip inspections on your wood chipper. Important points: • Keep all components in good condition – tyres, brakes, suspension • Check wiring, connections and lighting for proper operation prior to use • Make sure the inspections and results are documented and report any maintenance issues • Ensure repairs are made by qualified people prior to use.

Operator’s and maintenance manuals

A machine’s operator’s and maintenance manuals instruct how to properly operate and maintain that machine. They detail the unique features of the chipper and its operation. Operators should familiarise themselves with the manuals. Important points: • Using the machine safely starts with understanding the manual • Manuals are critical to understanding the safe and correct use of the machine • Following the proper instructions will improve the performance of the machine.

Rope and line hazards

Never allow ropes or lines in a wood chipper work area. To help avoid hazards, keep the jobsite away from the wood chipper work area. Important points:
• Develop a plan
• Never allow ropes or climbing lines around a chipper work area. They can get tangled and pulled into the chipper
• Keep the jobsite separate from the brush chipper work area
• Do not chip in a drop zone when a climber or lift is aloft.

Feeding issues

Operators should know how to properly shut down a machine and follow lockout and tag-out procedures. Important points:
• Remove the key from the brush chipper before attempting to clear a clogged chip chute or an infeed jam
• Never attempt to service any part of a machine while it’s running
• Never open the drum or disc access without locking out the machine
• Only trained and authorised individuals should carry out any job outside basic field maintenance.

Winch control

Operators should know how to operate the winch controls and what each control does. Important points:
• Know how to properly use the winch according to the manufacturer’s instructions
• Always have the chipper attached to the tow vehicle when using the winch
• Ensure the winch line doesn’t tangle with material being fed into the chipper
• Always store the winch line on its proper storage hook or interlock
• Once material is engaged, the feeding process must be stopped and the winch retracted and stowed before proceeding
• Store any line and accessories properly
• Never permanently attach any chain or hook to the end of the winch line
• Never carry a winch line with a chain or heavy object
• Never wrap any part of the winch line around a hand or arm while carrying it
• Always use the proper manufacturer’s line for the winch
• Never use rope with elastic properties.

Jobsite setup

Set up for success by setting up the jobsite appropriately. Important points:
• Place cones and signs around the equipment if you’re by a street
• Wear high-visibility reflective vests or shirts and required personal protection equipment
• Set up the chipper away from the drop zone
• Inspect and stage the brush away from the approach
• Inspect for ropes or vines • Look for contaminants that could become projectiles.

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