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Safe Brush Chipper Operation

​This Tailgate Talk is part of the NLTAPA collection.

Feeding material into a brush chipper can be a safe operation if you know what you’re doing, stay alert, and understand how the equipment works.


Clothing should be close fitting and tucked in. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing like untucked or unbuttoned shirts and jackets or pants with cuffs that could get caught on loose brush and branches.


  • Hard hats and ear protection are required.


  • Eye protection is also required. It must be ANSI-approved and may consist of glasses, goggles, or a flip-down visor of plastic or mesh.


  • Wear good work pants and leather work boots with non-slip soles.


  • Gloves are recommended, but gauntlet-style gloves should never be worn as they may snag on branches being fed into the chipper.


  • Avoid wearing any kind of jewelry such as earrings, rings, watches, or necklaces that could present a safety hazard.


Stack brush in a way that makes it easy for the operator to feed the chipper. Allow for a clear feed path. After the pre-start and maintenance checks:


  • Before starting, disengage the clutch, put the safety control bar in neutral, and make sure everyone is clear from the equipment.


  • Always idle the engine to warm it up, engage the clutch, and then raise the engine rpm gradually to full throttle.


  • Never operate a chipper alone. Two people should be on-site, with one operating the control bar at all times.


  • Never operate a chipper while taking medication that may impair concentration.


  • Feed brush into the chipper butt-end first. Lay short material on top of longer material that is feeding.


  • Never attempt to feed handfuls of twigs, leaves, and other material that has been raked up. It may contain rocks and metal that will damage the chipper. Watch for foreign objects in the brush pile.


  • Remove the ignition key when the machine is left unattended. Have a first aid kit on-site, along with a fire extinguisher.