Chipper Pinch Point Crushes Worker’s Finger

BACKGROUND: A logger was cleaning out vines that had accumulated in the feed rollers of a field chipper. He had correctly locked out the top feeder roll in an open position before he began his clean up. It was mid-afternoon of a hot summer day in the South.

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The worker was fully trained to operate and maintain this particular chipper. He had been operating chippers for two years and this particular model for ten months.

UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITION: After untangling the vines, the man removed the safety pin and moved to the infeed end of the chipper. To support himself he placed his right hand on the chipper in a pinch point between the chipper's frame and a plate associated with the top feeder roll.

ACCIDENT: He then instructed the chipper operator to lower the top feeder roll. As the feeder roll was lowered, the man's hand was caught in the pinch point. His right little finger and half of his right ring finger were severed from his hand.

INJURY: He was immediately taken to a hospital where he received medical treatment and was sent to a nearby medical center which specialized in hand injuries. Doctors were unable to reattach the fingers. Follow-up treatment was performed to clean up the open wounds.


  • Maintain proper warning labels on machines. When this chipper was purchased a warning label had been present at the pinch point but had since worn away.
  • Purchase machines that eliminate pinch points or modify machines to eliminate pinch points. By adding two inches to either feeder roll plate, a guard would be present on this chipper that would have eliminated the pinch point at which this accident occurred.
  • Be aware of the dangers fatigue can cause. This injury took place near the end of the week at the hottest time of the day, so fatigue may have been a factor in impairing the judgment of both men.
Reviewed By:
Michael Wetzel
Southeastern Technical Division Forester


Please follow equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.