Lawn Mower Safety

yellow riding lawn mowerRed push lawn mower

The power lawn mower is a dangerous tool. Each year, approximately 70,000 persons are injured by power mowers and required treatment in emergency rooms. Lawn mower injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, as well as eye and other injuries. Many injuries are very serious and can happen to both users of mowers and those who are nearby. Twenty five percent of all lawn mower hand and foot injuries result in amputations. This is partially because of infections and the gross contamination of the wound from contact with grass and soil harboring dangerous pathogens.

Here are some tips to prevent lawn mower injuries and catastrophies:

  • Become familiar with your mower. Read the owner’s manual before using the mower for the first time and note all safety and operating instructions. Learn the controls well enough to be able to stop the machine quickly in an emergency.
  • Use a mower with modern safety controls such as ones that stop the mower from moving forward and the blade from spinning if the operator falls off or handle is let go and DO NOT remove or defeat safety devices or guards.
  • Make sure to wear sturdy, good traction shoes (not sandals or sneakers) while mowing and never, never mow barefoot.
  • Wear hearing and eye protection. Wear close-fitting clothes as they are less likely to get caught on controls or moving parts of a mower. Long pants and sturdy leather shoes can protect you from flying sticks, stones, or other items not caught by the rear guard. When mowing for long periods of time or if noise is objectionable, wear hearing protection.
  • Make sure that other persons, especially children, are not in the area that you plan to mow.
  • Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Mowers should only be refueled with the motor turned off and cool.
  • Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.
  • Before you mow, check your lawn for items such as sticks, rocks, toys, sports equipment, dog bones, wire, and equipment parts.
  • Keep in mind that the cutting edge of the mower blade can travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Even a dull blade at that speed can slice fingers and toes that get in the way. Also understand that objects can be throw from under the mower at that same speed. (As a point of interest, the standard spinning lawnmower blade has an amount of energy equal to three times the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum pistol.)
  • Look for and remember to avoid immovable objects, such as pipes, or partially buried rocks. Running into a fixed object can shatter the mower blade and throw jagged chunks of metal out the discharge chute or from under the housing.
  • Do not pull a mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravelly areas and never mow over small mounds of dirt.
  • Do not mow wet grass. Wet grass is slippery and can cause the operator to lose footing, slip under the mower and be seriously injured. Wet grass can also impair the stopping and turning capabilities of a riding mower.
  • Use care on inclines and slopes. Some slopes are too steep to mow safely, so use good judgment. Always push walk-behind mowers across slopes to avoid coming in contact with the mower if it slips and drive riding mowers up and down slopes to avoid roll over accidents.
  • Never leave a running mower unattended. When you leave the operator's position the mower should be turned off. (New models have an operator presence switch that automatically kills the engine when the operator releases the handle.)

Think "SAFETY" and be cautious when using all lawn cutting equipment.

REMEMBER: a good looking lawn should not cost you an arm or a leg. (or any fingers or toes either !)