Chipper/shredders can make quick work out of fall leaves and fallen branches, but that same power can make them dangerous to operate without the right protection and operation practices. Here’s what you need to know to use your equipment safely.
More Than Just a Horror Movie Staple
Wood chippers have torquey motors that move blades and flails at high speeds to turn leaves and branches into small, compact pieces that are easy to dispose of or use as mulch. That same power also makes them good at chopping up body parts, making them a featured mechanism in death and body disposal in movies ranging from “Woodchipper Massacre” to “Fargo.”
Movie-based reputation aside, the Center for Disease Control estimates an average of 200 workers are injured by chipper/shredders every year. Most of these injuries are due to contact with the blades, object kickback, and mechanical failure, three things that are easy to avoid with proper use.
Have You Read the Manual?
It’s easy to skim through the safety information, but this is based on injury studies, recommendations by organizations like the CDC and OSHA and Cub Cadet’s own in-house testing on your specific model of a chipper shredder, making it your best source for information on avoiding injury.
Wear the Right Protective Gear
While you might only need some hearing protection when using a lawn mower, adding to your equipment can greatly reduce your risk when using a chipper/shredder:
– A Type II, Class G or Class E hard hat that meets the latest ANSI Z89.1 standard, currently revision 2014. If you have an older helmet, the standards information should be molded into it, making it easy to ensure you have a model that meets current design requirements.
– Safety glasses that meet the latest Z81.1 standards, currently revision 2015. As with helmets, this information should be stamped into the glasses.
– Leather or cut protection gloves to protect your hands from splinters. This protection should cover the entire glove, not just the palm and bottom side of the fingers.
– Hearing protection. As with all small engine equipment, the noise from the motor can cause permanent hearing damage.
– Non-slip boots to help prevent falls.
Locating Your Chipper/Shredder
This equipment should be placed on a flat piece of ground for stability and well away from pets and people to reduce the chance of an accident. Since it uses an internal combustion engine, the chipper/shredder needs to be at least three feet (one meter) away from buildings to prevent deadly carbon monoxide build-up.
Inspect the Impeller Housing
Older wood chippers use a metal band that covers the sides of the impeller. This hood can pop off, striking the operator. The CDC has identified this failure as one of the top causes of chipper/shredder injuries; to prevent this, newer Cub Cadet chippers use a clamshell design that spreads the load over a larger area, decreasing but not eliminating risk. With either design, you should periodically check the tightness of the housing bolts to ensure these parts don’t become projectiles.
Use the Right Size Wood
Your chipper/shredder has a limit to the size of branches that it can handle. Larger branches can be kicked out of the chute by the flails, making them a serious safety hazard. Likewise, over-sized chips are more likely to become projectiles when exiting the chute. When chipping wood, go slowly to give the flails time to break it into small pieces.
Get Something Stuck? Use Some Wood.
Sticking your fingers into a chute do dislodge a stuck branch or lump of stubborn leaves is a good way to pull your arm directly toward the flails and blades. Instead, use a stick to probe the area and dislodge the material.
Keep Everything Tidy
As the chipper/shredder is used, debris from dust and clippings will build up around it, creating a slip hazard. Keep the area clean to keep from sliding and falling into your chipper.
When In Doubt, Shut Off the Engine
Get something stuck? Hear a strange noise? Shut off the motor and disconnect the spark plug before trying to find the problem.
Use Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts
OEM parts are designed and built by Cub Cadet for their equipment so you can be sure they’ll maintain the safety that was built into your equipment. Where can you get these parts? Cubparts.com. We’re a certified dealer for Cub Cadet as well as Briggs & Stratton, the manufacturer of the engine used in the CS 3310 chipper/shredder. Our site lets you see factory descriptions and diagrams so you can be sure you’re getting the right part. We ship parts and accessories across the U.S. and Canada.