The arrival of spring and summer encourages us to spend more time outdoors, and after a long winter, many of us are anxious to get outside and complete lawn and maintenance work.
However, it is necessary to use caution as well as proper technique when completing outdoor tasks.
Each year in the United States, lawn mower accidents cause many serious injuries, including injury to 9,400 children—some of which result in death. According to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the most common injuries experienced are lacerations, fractures and amputations of fingers, hands, toes, feet and legs. Injuries usually occur when the lawn mower operator is unaware of a child in the area and the child slips, falling under the equipment.
Lawn Mower Safety Tips
It’s important to remember that a lawn is not a safe place when lawn equipment is in operation. A lawn mower can be a dangerous piece of equipment and it is important to know lawn mower hazards in order to protect yourself and others.
- Read the owner’s manual prior to using any lawn mower.
- Familiarize yourself with the safe operation requirements, the instructions on safety decals and the placement and proper movement of operating controls.
- Make sure that the lawn is free of rocks, toys and other objects.
- Only use manufacturer approved attachments.
- Inspect every lawn mower before use.
- Never remove or immobilize any safety guards.
- Proper personal protective equipment should be worn by every lawn mower operator (safety glasses, ear plugs or muffs and sturdy work boots).
- Do not operate any lawn mower in wet or slippery conditions.
- Do not allow passengers to ride on lawn mowers while in operation or when being towed behind a vehicle in a cart or trailer.
- Take precautions to prevent hair, loose clothing or jewelry from becoming entangled in a lawn mower’s moving parts.
- Do not allow children to play around a lawn mower when it is in use—or in storage.
- Children should be at least 12 years of age before they are allowed to operate a walk-behind powered lawn or hand mower and 16 years old to operate a riding lawn mower.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, child operators must be able to demonstrate the necessary levels of adequate judgment, strength, coordination, safety and maturity before using lawn equipment.
Author: John Hyman, MS, CSHM, WVU Safety and Health Extension Safety Specialist and Associate Professor