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How to safely operate a hedge cutter


Rotary flail (tractor mounted) hedge cutters present workers using them with a substantial risk of being injured at work. Injuries caused by hedge cutter accidents can be serious, even fatal, and both employers and employees must adhere to relevant safety procedures to prevent such working accidents.


Potential accidents at work

Hedge cutters can cause work injuries in a variety of ways, including operators being:

  • Hit by flying debris
  • Hit by parts ejected from the machine
  • Hit by moving machine arms or cutting heads
  • Trapped between tractor and machine while hitching or unhitching
  • Injected with highly pressurised oil through damaged couplings or hydraulic hoses

Other work accidents involving hedge cutters

In addition, workers may suffer accidental injuries through coming into contact with moving parts, such as; blowers; belts and pulleys, parts of the cutting head, or PTO shafts. Then, of course, there is the risk of the machine touching overhead power lines or over-balancing when free-standing while out of use. Another danger of personal injury exists in tractors over-balancing as the machine arm extends. Debris left on the road or inadequate signing of work areas may also result in injuries by road accidents.


Health & safety at work

In order to prevent personal injuries to workers and passers-by/ road users, operators must be properly trained in the use of hedge cutters and relevant safety procedures. This includes ensuring work sites are clear of debris likely to get caught or thrown by cutters; clearing cutting debris immediately, and following all provided safety and safe use instructions. Hedge cutters and tractors must be maintained regularly and kept in good working order, and suitable personal protection equipment must be provided. Road users and other members of the public must be warned of work in progress by appropriate signing.


More information on safe use of hedge cutters

The Health & Safety Executive information sheet on ‘Safe use of rotary flail hedge cutters’ (http://www.hseni.gov.uk/ais21.pdf) provides details on relevant risk assessments and necessary steps and safety procedures to prevent public or work-related injuries.


Work injury claims

If you were injured by a hedge cutter through no fault of your own within the last 36 months, you may be entitled to work or personal injury compensation. Visit Accident Advice Helpline Website or call the freephone number 0800 689 5659 to find out how to make a no win no fee injury claim. All calls to this line are treated with strict confidentiality.