Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Lawn Mowing Safety
Ah, summer! The sun shines, the birds sing and the grass grows… and grows…. and grows. Not many of us enjoy yardwork and lawn mowing can be tedious and time consuming. Even if you don’t have a huge backyard, it takes time and skill to ensure that it is properly mowed each week. So, something that is done so frequently and routinely is usually overlooked when we talk about safety. How dangerous can riding mowers really be? Well, as it turns out, they can be extremely dangerous and even deadly if not properly operated.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 34,000 injuries were related to riding mower incidents from 2010-2012. On average, 90 deaths were attributed to riding mowers each year between 2007 and 2009. There were several common patterns when fatalities occurred: the machine tipped over, the victim fell under or was run over by the lawn mower, or the victim was thrown from or fell off the lawn mower.
Now, it isn’t expected that all of us are going to rush out and read our riding lawn mower instructions post haste, but for those of us who may not wish to read the full one hundred-page booklet, here are some pointers from the CPSC:
- Do not put hands or feet near rotating parts or under the machine. Always keep clear of the discharge opening.
- Only allow responsible adults, who are familiar with the instructions, to operate the machine.
- Clear the area of objects such as rocks, wire, toys, etc., which could be thrown by the blade(s).
- Do not operate the machine without the entire grass catcher, discharge guard or other safety devices in place and working.
- Slow down before turning.
- Never leave a running machine unattended. Always turn off the blade(s), set the parking brake, stop the engine, and remove the key before dismounting.
- Disengage the blade(s) when not mowing. Shut off the engine and wait for all parts to come to a complete stop before cleaning the machine, removing the grass catcher or unclogging the discharge guard.
- Do not operate the machine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Always wear eye protection when operating the machine.
Now, we’re sure that all of those who own a push mower might think they don’t have any worries. Although there are generally not any fatalities with push mowers, they do contribute to an average of 35,000 people being treated in emergency rooms each year. Here are a few tips to keep safe when using a push mower:
- Check the lawn for debris (twigs, rocks and other objects) before mowing the lawn. Objects have been struck by the mower blade and thrown out from under the mower, resulting in severe injuries and deaths.
- Don't cut the grass when it's wet. Wet clippings will probably clog the discharge chute, could jam the rotary blade and, ultimately, shut down the engine. When you need to remove clippings from the chute, the rotary blade must be stopped.
- Wear sturdy shoes with sure-grip soles when using the mower. Never wear sneakers or sandals or mow with bare feet. Slacks rather than shorts offer better protection for the legs. Never allow young children to operate a power lawn mower.
- Children should not be allowed on or near the lawn when the rotary mower is in use. Push the mower forward. Never pull it backward.
- If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with the walk-behind rotary mower, never up and down. (With a riding mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it.)
- With an electric mower, organize your work so you first cut the area nearest the electrical outlet. Then, gradually move away. This will minimize chances of running over the power cord and being electrocuted.
With all this knowledge, you can now tackle your lawn in a safe and efficient manner. Happy mowing!
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