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Mowing Safety

In 2016, more than 86,000 adults and 4,500 children in the U.S. went to the emergency rooms for injuries related to lawn mowers according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

The blade of a 26-inch push mower can spin at 3,000 RPMs and generate 2,100 ft lbs of kinetic energy. That’s equivalent to a 1.17-pound ball traveling at 232 mph. Such power can sever body parts or turn small objects into dangerous projectiles.

Most lawn care equipment injuries can be avoided with safety procedures and adequate personal protection equipment. Stay safe this year by following these safety tips.

No Children Allowed

Mowing the grass can be a rite of passage for many young people, but it shouldn’t be allowed too early.

In the U.S., more than 800 children are run over by riding mowers or lawn tractors annually, requiring more than 600 limb amputations and 75 deaths. For children under 10, lawn mower accidents are the number one cause of limb loss.

Read the Manual

Safety begins with knowing how to correctly use a piece of equipment. Your owner’s manual can help you understand all of the features of your machine and how to use them properly.

If you no longer know where it is, you can usually find it online by searching the model number. Or, you can call the manufacturer and request a copy.

Wear Proper PPE

Wear adequate personal protection equipment to prevent lawn care injuries:

  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Long pants
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection

Clear the Lawn Area

Objects flying out from under a lawn mower can travel in excess of 170 mph. At these speeds, even small items can cause severe damage.

Walking the area you’re going to mow to remove hazards greatly reduces this danger. However, mowing is not a spectator sport, and others should not be in the mowing area. Children are at particular risk due to their smaller stature and general lack of awareness.

Beware of Stored Energy

According to Dr. Troy Madsen at the Wound Treatment Center of Utah, stored energy is becoming more of a hazard each year.

Many of today’s mowers can have energy stored in the drive-train even if the engine is no longer running. You should never attempt to clear a clogged or stalled mower by hand. The blades can spin when freed and result in serious injuries.

Avoid Burns

Even small gas-powered motors can generate sufficient heat to cause severe burns or ignite fuel. Never touch any part of the mower that’s not part of its operating controls, unless it’s cool to the touch. Let mowers cool a few minutes before you refuel.

Watch the Terrain

Mowing on hillsides can be particularly hazardous. Cutting across the slope can lead to mowers tipping over or sliding out of control. Uphill, straining to push a mower can cause you to fall. This leads to the risk of the mower rolling onto you or a riding mower flipping backwards. Downhill, your feet can slip out from under you and under the deck of the mower.

Mowers with an automatic shutoff can help keep your family safe, but it’s also important to pay attention and use safe mowing practices.

Whether you use a push mower, self-propelled mower, riding mower or string trimmer, always remember that these are powerful machines designed to cut. Treat them with respect and follow appropriate safety practices to stay safe this summer.