An Eye on Safety

An Eye on Safety

Although Eye Safety month is not this month, I thought it would be a great topic of conversation based on a recent, autumnal experience. We have a lot of trees on our property and as a result, I spent the better part of each summer clipping, cutting and piling up dead branches. As fall arrived, it was time to rent a wood chipper to get rid of these piles of debris. As we all might know, a wood chipper is a very dangerous piece of equipment; very loud, lots of moving parts in which to be hurt and lots of flying debris. I even had some internal debate with myself as to whether or not I should perform the job or outright hire a crew of experienced workers. In the end, I decided that I wasn’t going to allow fear to make my decision. So I did some research.

I read through the chipper’s User’s Manual, studied OSHA’s safety guidelines for Chipper/Shredder Safety, and found out that the most common occupational injuries occur from flying debris and improper use of the chipper. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 2,000 work-related eye injuries each day – not all involving landscaping crews using wood chippers, but the majority are caused by flying debris. Some require immediate surgery, while others may even miss work. For more information please refer to the link: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/eye/ . What’s unfortunate is that most eye-related injuries are preventable. By using proper engineering controls such as machine guards, administrative controls like “off limits” zones, and the use of proper PPE like eye protection, one can remove a significant amount of risk. Knowledge really is power.

So, how did I do with my chipper project? My eye sight is great. We wore proper protective eye wear along with proper clothing and gloves. My assistant and I went through a safety briefing and took plenty of breaks. Before we knew it, the job was done…safely.

For more information on chipper/shredder safety, please refer to the link:

https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy09/sh-19503-09/chipper-shredder_safety_manual.pdf


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