Landscape Safety Series, Tractor-Mower Safety

  • Fluegel, Lance;
  • Rein, Bradley K.


  • Read or review the operator's manual to familiarize yourself with the machine.
  • Learn the location and use of controls, gauges, and dials for the tractor.
  • Familiarize yourself with speeds, slope capabilities, braking and steering characteristics, and tractor-mower clearances.
  • Be sure the tractor is equipped with a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) and a seat belt. If not, have it retrofitted for one.
  • Check that the power take off, mower input driveline, drive belts, chains, and gears are all properly guarded. Repair or replace if necessary.
  • Check the discharge chute to see that it is present and pointed downward.
  • Fill the fuel tank out of doors with the engine stopped and cool. Do not smoke while filling.
  • If you will be driving on public roads be sure the slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem is in place. Check that the warning lights are present and operating.
  • Check overhead clearance of electrical wires and other obstructions, especially if you are using a wing-type, boom-type, or flail mower.
  • Inspect the work area for debris, ditches, potholes, stumps, irrigation valves, etc. Clear removable items and mark the others.

  • Be sure your hands and shoes are clean and dry before mounting the tractor to prevent slipping. Use the steps and handbars.
  • Do not allow any riders -- especially children.
  • Adjust the seat, fasten the seat belt, set the parking brake, place shift lever in neutral or park, and disengage the pto before cranking the engine.
  • Raise the mower high and use low rpm before engaging power to the unit.
  • Use a ground speed based on length and density of material being cut -- normally between 2-5 mph.
  • Mow very tall grass twice at 90-degree angles if possible.
  • Mow up and down slopes with rear-mount, pull-type, and wing-type mowers.
  • Mow across slopes with side-mount, offset, and sicklebar mowers.
  • Look behind you before backing.

  • When finished or stopping, disengage the pto, place shift in neutral or park, set parking brake, turn engine off, and wait for all movement to stop before dismounting.
  • Remove the key if leaving the tractor for any length of time.
  • Always block the mower if working under it for any reason.

Publication #: 8831-K

This document is apart of a series from the the Cooperative Extension, the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85719. Publication date: May 1989.

Lance Fluegel, Safety Coordinator, and Bradley Rein, Engineering Specialist, the College of Agriculture, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ 85719.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More