Tips for Stump Cutter Safety and Maintenance

Tips for Stump Cutter Safety and Maintenance

A stump cutter can be a tremendously useful tool, but it can also be very dangerous, especially since crews must work in close proximity to the machine. As with all equipment, safety is paramount. In addition, regular maintenance not only ensures peak performance but supports safe operation.

With that in mind, let’s look at the best ways to ensure that your stump cutter and the people who operate it can work safely and productively.

Everyone who uses or cares for the machine should read the operator’s manual to familiarize themselves with the equipment. Then, following regular routines will ensure nothing is overlooked when operating the stump cutter.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential

Anyone working on the crew should be fully outfitted with:

  • Clothes that fit closely but allow for movement – including reflective gear if the job site is dark or busy
  • ANSI Z89.1 head protection
  • ANSI A87.1 eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Work gloves

Daily inspection and maintenance ensure good working order

Always start with a walk-around inspection that includes:

  • Looking for damage to the cutting boom cylinders or linkage
  • Removing any residue or debris around the engine
  • Inspecting tires and rims

For daily maintenance:

  • Check engine oil level
  • Test the brakes
  • Inspect the cutter wheel teeth and hardware
  • Lubricate the cutting wheel and bearings, jackshaft bearings and boom pivots
  • Check tension of the cutting wheel chain and adjust if needed – be sure the engine is off!

Safely operating the stump cutter

  • Did you remember to call 811 locator service to note any underground hazards?
  • Though shielded, the machine can still throw debris. Make sure everyone except the operator (other crew members as well as any bystanders) are at least 25 feet away.
  • Clear a path for the machine, and note hazards that cannot be removed such as ditches, wires, etc.
  • Allow the machine to warm up for at least 2 minutes before using it. This helps hydraulic oil to warm and cycle so cylinders and lines are also ready to go.
  • When you’re finished cutting, stop the cutting wheel rotation before moving the machine to the next stump.

And when you’re done for the day, store your stump cutter properly so it will be ready to work when you need it next:

  • Run the engine for at least 15 seconds at mid-throttle
  • Clean the machine – if you wash it, run the machine and run it briefly to shake off excess water
  • Coat all exposed cylinder rods with an appropriate oil
  • Remove the battery and store it indoors, on wood, fully charged

These simple steps will keep your stump cutter in prime condition and your crew safe when using it.