Young N.J. landscaper dies in wood chipper accident

Hayden BalboaHayden Balboa

A 24-year-old landscaper died in a wood chipper accident while working at a home in Lebanon Township, New Jersey, on Thursday.

Hayden Balboa, the owner of SMY Landscape Services, based in Califon, New Jersey, died from injuries sustained while operating a wood chipper.

High Bridge Fire and Rescue and paramedics from Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township responded to the scene. The prosecutor’s office and the township police investigated the incident.

“This appears to be a tragic accident and our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Balboa during this difficult time,” Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III told

Balboa is listed as a 2010 graduate of Voorhees High School in Glen Gardner, according to NJ Advance Media Archives. On Balboa’s company’s Facebook page, friend Anthony Malgapo wrote, “Friends (myself included) are still in a state of shock and I cannot speak for the family itself but I urge that you please give them courtesy and respect.”

SMY Landscape Services offered lawn maintenance, brush removal and stone work, among other services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from 1992-2002, 31 deaths were caused by mobile wood chippers and 68 percent of these deaths were a result of being caught or compressed in the wood chipper.

It is advised to never work alone with a wood chipper. One person should be loading the material while another is stationed by the emergency shut-off device.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a variety of materials on the subject and also offers these tips:

  • Never reach into a chipper while it is operating.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing around a chipper.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety instructions.
  • Use earplugs, safety glasses, hard hats and gloves.
  • Workers should be trained on the safe operation of chipper machines. Always supervise new workers using a chipper to ensure that they work safely and never endanger themselves or others.
  • Protect yourself from contacting operating chipper components by guarding the infeed and discharge ports, and preventing the opening of the access covers or doors until the drum or disc completely stops.
  • Prevent detached trailer chippers from rolling or sliding on slopes by chocking the trailer wheels.
  • Maintain a safe distance (that is, two tree or log lengths) between chipper operations and other work/workers.
  • When servicing and/or maintaining chipping equipment (for example, “unjamming”) use a lockout system to ensure the equipment is de-energized.
The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover