Safe Use of Lawnmowers

Richard L. Parish  |  12/3/2004 7:36:00 PM

Figure 1. Use a walk-behind lawmower along the contour of a slope, not up and down.

Figure 2. The spark plug wire should be disconnected when servicing a lawnmower.

Walk-behind home lawnmowers are covered by safety standards and regulations, but the real responsibility for safety rests with you, the operator.

No matter how much a mower is shielded and guarded, it still has to be capable of cutting grass or it is useless. If it can cut grass, it can cut you, too! These suggestions can help you use your mower safely.

Fuel
Fill the fuel tank before you start the mower so the engine is cold. Do not fuel a hot mower! Do not remove the fuel tank cap on a hot mower!

Objects and Debris
Pick up the kids’ toys, the dog’s bones, sticks, trash, etc. before you start the mower. Objects can be picked up and thrown at high velocity by a mower.

Kids and Pets
Keep children and pets well away from mowers. Not only is there danger from being cut by the deck, but thrown objects can be dangerous 100 feet or more from the mower.

Safety Features
Never try to override or disconnect the safety features on your mower such as the operator presence control or the devices that prevent operation when the bag, discharge chute or mulching plate is removed. Admittedly, they can be frustrating, but the devices are there to protect you.

Tune-up
Yes, a tune-up is a safety consideration. If your mower is not tuned up properly, it will probably be hard to start and that will tempt you to bypass safety equipment and/or procedures. Keeping your mower properly tuned and maintained is one of the most important steps toward safe operation.

Young Operators
Don’t allow young children to operate mowers.

Push, Don’t Pull
Mowers are designed to be pushed forward. Pulling them backward increases the risks of blade contact. Obviously, you will need to pull the mower backward occasionally while maneuvering, but otherwise you shouldn’t mow backward.

Slopes
Unlike a riding mower or tractor, it is safest to mow across the slope rather than up and down with a walk-behind mower (Figure 1). That way, if you slip, you won’t slide into the mower nor will the mower roll onto you.

Blade Sharpening
This may not seem like a safety point, but a sharp blade will allow your mower to operate more efficiently, reducing fuel fill-ups and maneuvering.

Bagging
If you use a bagger, be sure to stop the blade before emptying the bag. Stop the engine before reaching into the discharge chute - even if you think the blade has stopped.

Height Adjustments
Always make height adjustments with the engine shut off.

Unattended Mower
Shut off the engine if you are going to leave the mower unattended, even briefly.

Service Safety
When working on a mower, remove the wire from the spark plug to prevent accidental starts (Figure 2). This is especially important if you are removing the blade. Turning the blade bolt with a wrench can turn the blade and crank the engine.

Remember, no matter how many safety features your mower has, ultimately safety depends on you.

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