Wood-chipper fatality - 7 September 2019

This incident information release outlines how to use a wood-chipper safely

Incident overview

A group of workers were felling branches and vegetation at a school in Lindfield. A male worker was feeding the branches into a wood-chipper when he was pulled into the machine, sustaining fatal injuries.

Photo of wood-chipper used in incident
Wood-chipper used in incident

The investigation

  • SafeWork NSW inspectors responded to the incident and attended the site.
  • SafeWork NSW has commenced an investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of the incident.

Safety information

You must consider ‘reasonably practicable’ control measures to manage the risk of tree trimming and removal work.

Control measures that may prevent a similar incident include:

  • Conducting pre-start checks, to ensure equipment and systems are working correctly.
  • Making sure nothing is entangled in material before it’s fed into the wood chipper.
  • Keeping unnecessary ropes away from the work area.
  • Ensuring emergency stops and control bar are functioning properly.
  • Operating the wood chipper according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensuring teams consist of at least two competent workers, who have been given specific training on the individual machine being used
  • Feeding branches off the centre line. Where reasonably practicable, the operator feeding the branches into the wood chipper should do so from the side.
  • Using a ‘push-stick’ at least 1.5 metres long, to feed shorter material into the machine.
  • Stopping the rollers before reaching into the chute.
  • Making sure the wood-chipper is never left unattended while operating.

Further information

Download a PDF of this release

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