Worker Killed by Wood Chipper in Tampa Last Month

A tree trimmer was killed in Tampa on September 25th. The man, pronounced dead by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department at 3:30 pm that afternoon, had been feeding bundled tree branches into a wood chipper when he was caught in some rope that had been bundling the branches.

Eye-witnesses say the worker fought hard and was successful in preventing himself from being sucked into the chipper, but the force of the rope around the man caused what proved to be fatal damage. The man’s name has yet to be released to the public.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) website details a magnitude of best practices and suggestions in the safe operation of wood chippers in order to reduce the likelihood a worker could be sucked into a chipper and to prevent injury or death. A selection of those follow:

  • At least one worker should be stationed near the emergency shut-off button at all times during operation
  • The person feeding the chute should stand to the side when feeding material into the chipper
  • Use a wooden tool or branch to feed material into the chipper’s chute
  • Thick branches should be fed in from thickest to thinnest point
  • Keep limbs out of the infeed chute while chipper is in operation
  • When left unattended, the chipper should be shut down and the ignition key removed
  • Remove metal and other non-organic materials from the material pile slated to be chipped
  • Utilize the chipper’s locking pins for blade immobilization before attempting to dislodge a clog or change chipper blades

Employers wishing to avoid fatal instances and ensuing wrongful death lawsuits should hold safety meetings monthly to review best practices when operating dangerous equipment.

Source: The Associated Press, “Man dies in wood chipper accident,” September 26, 2010