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K-State Today

April 14, 2011

Safety tips for using a power lawn mower

Submitted by Steven Galitzer

Keeping our campus looking beautiful requires a lot of lawn mowing. Knowing and observing a few basic safety measures will help effectively care for the lawn, while minimizing injury to yourself and innocent bystanders. Given the potential for injury, the following methods will help you maintain a safe environment while operating lawn equipment.

 Before you start

Know your equipment. Thoroughly read the owner's manual and review it annually.

If you haven’t recently serviced your mower, make it a priority. Perform regular maintenance as outlined by the manufacturer.

Leave all safety features intact.

Clear the area to be mowed. Remove sticks, stones, wire and other debris. Set the blade high enough to prevent an excessive amount of debris from being thrown -- this is especially important on rough terrain.

Avoid mowing near pedestrians. 

Cut grass only when conditions are safe.  Don't mow after daylight hours or when the grass is wet and slippery.

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment. Steel toe shoes with non-slip soles, close-fitting pants and top, safety glasses, and hearing protection are recommended.

 Safe mowing practices

Start the mower on clear, level and firm ground.

Learn how to stop the machine quickly. Today's mowers have kill switches that turn off the engine and stop the blade from rotating when the kill switch is released. DO NOT bypass the switch.

Don't leave a mower running unattended.

Never put your hands or feet near moving parts -- especially blades -- while the engine is running.

If the mower becomes clogged with grass or other debris, turn off the power and disconnect the spark plug to ensure the mower can't start before clearing the debris.

When cleaning, repairing or inspecting a gasoline powered mower, disconnect the spark plug wire. A hot gasoline engine can start on its own if the spark plug is connected.

 Walk-behind mowers

Make sure your footing is secure before starting the mower and maneuvering around obstacles.

Always mow sideways across slopes and banks, not up and down.

Don't pull a walk-behind mower toward you.

If your mower runs out of fuel, wait until the engine cools before refueling.

 Riding mower

 • Tipping or losing control is a hazard associated with riding mowers. Reduce speed before taking sharp turns. Watch for dips, holes, bumps, sprinkler heads and other items that may be obscured by grass. When mowing slopes, mow up and down, across; reduce speed; and avoid turns.

Never carry passengers, including children.