Lawn mower safety should be on the top of everyones agenda when they are cutting the lawn. In 1990 in America there were over 87,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that were sustained from using a lawn mower. Accidents occur when using both hand held and ride on mowers. Lawn mowers can cause terrible injuries such as loss of fingers, toes, broken bones, blindness, mutilated limbs and even death.
Types of lawn mower accidents
These are the most common types of lawn mower accident:
- Injury caused by someone coming into contact with the rotating lawn mower blade.
- Electrocution when using electric powered lawn mowers caused by cutting through the lawn mower cable.
- Injury by being run over by a lawn mower, this often happens when the driver of a ride on mower is reversing. Small children may below the drivers line of vision and so are at greatest risk. Having a hand manoevered mower pulled over an operators foot is also a known cause of injury.
- Burns by having bare skin come into contact with the engine casing
- Injury from a flying object that was ejected by the lawn mower, some lawn mowers can cause small stones and debris to be ‘fired’ out from under the lawn mower at a speed of over 100 mph. These flying objects can cause bruising, broken bones and even blindness.
- Upending a mower and having it fall on the operator. This normally occurs when the mower is attempting to mow a steep bank or turn a tight corner. The harmful effects can include coming into contact with the rotating blades and also having the weight of the mower land on a limb or the body.
Guidelines for implementing lawn mower safety
Many children and young teenagers mow the lawn to earn themselves extra pocket money. If a young person is mowing your lawn then make sure that they are following the guidelines below and know all the safety risks that are encountered when using the lawn mower.
Before you buy
When buying a mower look for a model that has an auto cut off feature that stops the blades rotating when a contol on the mower is let go. This ensures that the blades are only rotating when the operator has their hand on the ‘GO’ control.
Before the first cut
Firstly be sure to read the manufacturers operation instruction that come with your lawn mower and follow them properly.
Before powering up the mower
Before you even start the mower try and examine the lawn surface for objects that might be thrown up by the mower such as small stones. Remove any that you find and place them in a pile away from the lawn. When mowing the lawn wear protective goggles to protect the eyes from any such objects that you missed that are ‘spat’ out by the mower.
Wear stout shoes, not flip flops, sandals, trainers or other such footwear. Stout, sensible shoes are beneficial for keeping a firm footing as well as preventing direct exposure of the feet to the mower blades. Steel toe-capped shoes are recommended as they will offer some protection against the mower blades.
Make sure that the safety guards and shields on your mower are properly in place and fixed securely. This should prevent any contact with the blades in optimum mowing conditions.
For ride on mowers ensure that any young person using the mower is of a suitable age and height and that they can reach the pedals and all controls with ease and they are concisous of being aware of other people and pets that may be around. Also ensure that they have the hang of actually driving the ride on mower – including steering, gears and braking in a controlled manner. Do not leave them unobserved until you are confident that they have sufficient driving and awareness skills.
Place any pets inside the house so they are not running around and coming into contact with the mower or making the mower operator change their course.
For walk behind mowers ensure any person using the mower has the strength to manouver the mower properly, especially if they are using the mower on any slopes where there is increased chance of the mower overturning or rolling backwards.
Refuel petrol mowers BEFORE mowing whilst the mower is still switched off and the engine is cool. Refuel the mower outside to allow dispersal of petrol fumes. If removing grass clippings and any other debris from under the mower and around its blades or if making adjustments to the cutting height of the mower blades then ensure that the mower is switched off and disconnected from any power supply.
Make sure that children are aware that you will be cutting the lawn and are either indoors or away from the area that is to be mown.
Ensure your mower is in good condition by having an annual lawn mower service. If in doubt about the condition of your lawn mower at any time then take it to a lawn mower repair and service centre.
Switch the mower off before manouvering it across paths, roads and gravel drives. This will help prevent flying objects.
Never allow children to sit on the operators lap or on any part of the ride on mower as a passenger. They may impair the view of the operator and are also not in a safe riding position. This means they can easily be thrown off the mower and run over.
Make sure to mow across any steepish slopes when using a walk behind mower rather than up and down the slope. This will prevent mower overturn or rollback that will result in the mower coming into contact with the operator.
Lawn mower accidents can have huge physocological effects on both the lawn mower operator and the family and friends of any victim. If you follow the above guidelines you are taking steps that will help prevent lawn mower accidents and so you will be able to enjoy your lawn to its greatest extent.