by Jolene Priest

Safety is very important when operating any type of equipment where sharp blades and fast-moving parts are involved. Brush chippers are no exception. Operator safety depends on the operator and how well he or she follows the machine’s safety guidelines provided in the owner’s manual.


To ensure safety and optimum performance, always inspect the machine before and after each use. All inspections should be done with the ignition in the “off” position and the key should be removed when servicing the unit.

First, check the tires, safety chains and towing hitch for any defects. Inspect the entire unit for loose nuts or bolts. Check that running lights and turn signals are working properly and that all safety decals are legible and in place.

Next, grease all required lubrication points, check the oil fluid level, coolant level (if applicable) and hydraulic fluid. Check the clutch for proper adjustment as well as the belt tension.

Check the knives and make sure they’re sharp and properly installed. Also, inspect the anvil or cutter bar for proper tolerance and make sure the edge is square. Sharp edges and correct tolerances greatly reduce the risk of plugging the chipper and will ensure maximum performance.

Make sure hydraulic hoses are not leaking or badly worn. Check the function of the safety bar to ensure it moves properly into forward, reverse and neutral. Make sure the hood bolts and safety lock pins are tight and in place.

Inspect the swivel discharge for proper operation. Inspect the hydraulic pump and motors for leaks. Check the throttle to make sure the engine is running at the correct rpm and make sure the radiator is not plugged.

Always make sure the operator’s manual is provided with the unit. Do not operate the machine until you have read the operator’s manual and understand the decals and instructions on the chipper.

Before towing the unit, inspect the safety hitch to make sure it’s closed and pinned to prevent opening on the road. Safety chains should be crossed under the tongue of the chipper and hooked onto the towing vehicle. Make sure you are able to back up the chipper as well as tow it down the road in a level position.


Wearing appropriate safety gear is crucial to operator safety. Recommended gear includes: hardhat, eye protection (shield or safety glasses), close-fitting gloves and clothing, and hearing protection.

There are several basic guidelines for operators to follow when using a brush chipper:

  • Block tires before operating.
  • Make sure there are no obstructions in the infeed before starting the engine.
  • Disengage the clutch before starting the engine.
  • Point the discharge in a safe direction, away from people and buildings.
  • Never operate the chipper alone.
  • Keep hands and feet out of the infeed while the chipper is running.
  • Material that has been raked up should be placed in the chip van or chip pile directly. Other short material should be laid on top of longer material that is being fed.
  • Feed brush into chipper butt-end first.
  • Never smoke or use any type of open flame near the chipper.
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of the chipper.


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