Did you know that lawnmowers cause about 6400 injuries every year in the US? According to a recent study, there are about that many people with serious injuries caused by different types of lawnmowers. Though lawnmowers are helpful, they can be dangerous if not handled properly. But how can you use your lawnmower safely and reduce the risk?
While using your lawnmower, you can incorporate various safety measures like wearing safety clothes such as gumboots and overall. Additionally, you need to keep children away and ensure that you turn the engine off whenever the lawnmower is not in use. It is also essential to read the manual before starting an operation.
Lawnmowers are essential equipment for maintaining the appearance of your property. However, you still need to handle them with care. Keep scrolling to learn various lawn mower safety tips you can use to reduce its negative risks.
The 5 Common Injuries Caused by Lawnmowers
According to a recent report, there are about 6400 injuries caused by lawnmowers every year in the United States. Most of these injuries are severe and can cost an average of $37,000 in hospital bills per patient. More surprisingly, the injuries account for the death of approximately 90 Americans annually.
Source: Sage Jourals.
(There are other sources that claim that the number of injuries can be as high as 84000 per year, but I wasn’t able to find a source on that.)
The most common lawn mower injuries are:
Lawnmowers consist of sharp blades that can easily cause injuries if proper care is not taken. The most common injuries are cuts on the hands when one inserts fingers into the lawnmower by accident or while sharpening the blades.
Lawnmowers can also cause cuts on feet or other body parts when the mower is running. For example, if you trip and fall, the lawnmower can run over you (if it’s a self-propelled model) and cause severe injuries.
Yard Missile Injuries
The lawnmower blades rotate at high speeds and can pick and throw items such as stones, toys, and tree branches. These objects are referred to as yard missiles since the mower throws them at high speeds.
Yard missiles can cause severe injuries to the operator or people nearby. They can also cause property damage such as breaking house or car windows.
After mowing for several hours, the lawnmower will get hot, especially around the gas tank, engine, and exhaust. If you or your loved ones touch these parts before they cool off, they can cause severe burns on your skin.
When the sharp lawnmower blades are rotating, they can cut deep into the bones and cause open fractures. Open fractures are severe as they can damage the surrounding ligaments and/or muscle tendons resulting in hospitalization.
If left untreated, the open wounds can attract bacteria which would cause infection and make it more expensive and longer to heal.
In severe lawnmower accidents, the sharp blades can cut through a part of a leg or arm and cause amputation. The most common amputation injury is the entire or part of a finger or toe.
You can prevent the above injuries by taking safety precautions before, during, and after the mowing process.
Let’s look at how you can do that.
Lawnmower Safety Tips: Before Mowing
Whether you are using a gas-powered or electric lawnmower, there are various safety measures you can take before you start cutting the grass. The following are my four main safety tips to consider before you start to mow.
Read the User Manual
Though most people find the user manual of devices boring, it has vital information that can help prevent potential injuries. If you misplaced your mower’s manual, you can search for your specific model online to find its manual.
The user manual contains information on how to operate, care for, and maintain the lawnmower. More importantly, it has various safety tips to prevent you or people near you from getting injuries.
I know this sounds boring, but the best way to prevent injuries with any machine is to use it as intended.
Wear Protective Clothes
Wearing protective clothing can go a long way in preventing injuries and potential lawnmower hazards. To start with, you should wear closed shoes like gumboots that have slip-proof soles to prevent sliding and injuring yourself.
You should also wear an overall that fits you well and safety glasses to protect your eyes from grass chutes. Additionally, you can wear protective gloves to prevent cuts and improve the grip of the lawnmower handle.
According to the US National Institutes of Health, listening to sounds above 85 dBA (decibels) can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Therefore, you should wear hearing protection since some lawnmowers produce 100 or more decibels which can cause hearing problems over time.
Prepare the Yard
You can prevent the occurrence of yard missiles and injuries by preparing the yard before mowing. Inspect the lawn and remove any objects such as toys, tree branches, stones, or any other items that mower blades can pick and throw.
If the grass is too tall, you can start by trimming it to reduce the chances of grass clippings getting stuck on the lawnmower.
Prepare the Lawnmower
The lawnmower requires proper preparation before you start running it. If you are using a gas-powered lawnmower, ensure you fill the gas tank to avoid injuries when refueling. You also need to ensure that the mower has sufficient engine oil.
You should also sharpen the blades to make cutting easier and ensure you lubricate the moving parts. Additionally, ensure all bolts are tight as the engine can cause the bolts to loosen and lead to severe injuries.
If you are not sure whether your mower’s blade is tight enough, check out this article I wrote on this topic.
Lawnmower Safety Tips: When Mowing
You’ve taken all the necessary precautions before starting the mower; is the potential risk over? No. The most severe accidents happen when the mower is running. Therefore, keep the following safety tips in mind when operating your lawnmower.
Are you aware that about 3,142 Americans died in 2020 due to distracted driving? Just as distracted driving is dangerous, so is mowing your lawn when distracted. You should avoid distractions such as using your phone during mowing to ensure you concentrate on the task ahead of you.
Additionally, avoid eating or gazing away while operating the mower as you can hit an object and injure yourself or people around the yard. You should also ensure that your kids or pets are away from the yard while mowing.
When pets and children are running across the yard, they may distract you and cause severe accidents.
Mow Dry Grass
Are you aware that mowing wet grass can be risky and problematic? First, cutting wet grass increases the chances of slipping since the grass is slippery. If you fall and lose control of the lawnmower, you can injure yourself or people near the mowing area.
Secondly, wet grass will quickly clog the lawnmower causing it to cut inefficiently. When this happens, you will need to keep unclogging the mower which increases the chances of cuts and burns.
Additionally, the wet clippings will stain your shoes and clothing, making it hectic to clean them after use.
You can avoid these risks by mowing at the right time. Generally, you should mow during the day when the grass is dry. I usually recommend mowing either early in the morning, or in the evening before the sun sets.
One benefit of mowing in the evening is sufficient sunlight with reduced heat which can cause exhaustion.
Operate the Mower Safely
If you safely operate the lawnmower, you will reduce the likelihood of accidents by a huge margin. To start with, you should not consume alcoholic drinks or take any substances that will hinder you from operating the mower safely.
Secondly, do not tamper with any safety devices or features installed on your mower. These include back flaps that prevent your feet from stepping into the mower blades and protective covers that prevent contact between the operator and hot parts.
When mowing, you should avoid pushing the lawnmower backward as you may fall and the mower may run over you and cause severe injury. You should also avoid riding a running lawnmower over a driveway or area with stones as the blades can throw the stones and cause injury.
Consider the Terrain
Mowing sloppy terrains can be dangerous if you do it the wrong way. You should avoid pushing your walk-behind lawnmower up the hill or down a sloppy area. The best way to mow a sloppy yard is by pushing the mower across the slope.
This technique will reduce the risk of the mower reversing itself when ascending the hill or you falling into the mower while descending. However, if you are using a riding lawnmower, the best approach is riding up and down the hill to reduce the likelihood of your mower tipping over.
You should also take precautions while mowing under trees, areas with tall grass, and around the corners where you can’t see clearly.
Lawn Mower Safety Tips: After Mowing
By now, you have already learned numerous safety tips to prevent mower-related injuries. However, injuries may also occur after you’ve finished mowing.
You can take the following safety measures to prevent these types of injuries.
Turn off the Engine
Whether you have finished mowing or just resting, you should always turn off the engine and remove the key (if your mower has one). Children like playing with lawnmowers and if the engine is running, they might end up pushing buttons and injuring themselves.
While the engine is off, the sharp blades will not be rotating. Therefore, it reduces the risk of being cut by the blades.
Allow the Lawnmower to Cool Off
After you finish mowing or your gas-powered lawnmower runs out of fuel, you should turn off the engine and let it cool off. The mower engine usually gets very hot (over 2500F) after the mower has been in operation. If you touch any of the parts, it could lead to severe burns.
Before refueling your lawnmower, you should let the engine cool down for 15-30 minutes. If you add gas when the engine is still hot, the gas may spill on hot parts like the muffler and ignite. This may cause total damage to the mower or lead to serious burns.
Another significant precaution to take is to keep cigarettes or other substances that can ignite away from the mower, especially when refueling.
Care and Maintenance Tips
For your lawn mower to work efficiently, you need to incorporate various care and maintenance practices. However, you should take care not to injure yourself while doing these.
First, you should always ensure that the engine is off, and you’ve disconnected the spark plug (gas-powered models) or power cord (electric lawnmowers) before performing any kind of maintenance on the mower. However, even after doing this, you should never insert your fingers into the mower.
When removing grass clipping and debris that has clogged the mower, you should use an object such as a broomstick to prevent the blades from cutting you. Alternatively, you can use a piece of wood to stop the blades from spinning. But even then, caution is advised.
You should also not carry a mower with your hands at the bottom as the blades may cut you even when motionless.
To keep the mower at optimum performance levels, you need to clean, lubricate, sharpen, and store it properly after use.
How old should you be to mow the lawn?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one should be 12 years to operate a push mower. For riding mowers, one should be 16+ years to use them.
What PPE should you use when mowing?
You should wear ear protection, safety glasses, long pants, and closed shoes while operating a lawnmower. Ensure you have no jewelry and the clothes should fit properly to make it easy for you to operate the mower.