Landscape Safety: Using Power Tillers Safely

  • Fluegel, Lance;
  • Rein, Bradley K.


  • Read the owner's manual completely. Learn the purpose of all levers and controls. Be sure you can stop the machine quickly.
  • If purchasing a new machine or renting ask the salesperson to demonstrate safe operation of the machine.
  • Never allow anyone who is not physically or mentally mature or who has not been properly trained to operate the machine.
  • Always inspect the machine for loose, broken, or damaged parts. Make needed repairs or replacements before using.
  • Be sure all shields and guards are in place.
  • Fuel the engine out of doors while stopped and cool. If refueling wait several minutes for engine to cool. Do not smoke while handling fuel. Wipe up any spills.
  • If using an electric tiller that is not double insulated, you should plug it into a 3-socket, grounded outlet using a properly sized 3-wire extension cord. Using a Ground Fault Interrupter circuit gives maximum safety protection.
  • Dress properly for the job: Wear snug-fitting clothing in good condition, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, safety shoes, and filter mask if conditions are dusty.
  • Clear the work area of potential safety hazards such as wire, stones, bottles, cans, sticks, etc.
  • Be sure there are no children, pets, or bystanders in the working area.
  • Do not use the tiller near underground utilities, irrigation pipes, trees, etc.

  • Never start the engine in a closed building. Deadly fumes can build up.
  • Keep hands and feet clear of all moving parts.
  • Do not operate in wet or slippery conditions. This is especially important for electric models.
  • Be sure the depth regulator is engaged before starting the tiller. Failing to do this could cause the machine to lurch quickly away from you.
  • Disengage the tiller and stop the engine to inspect for damage if you hit an obstruction. Repair any damage before resuming.
  • Never leave the machine running and unattended.
  • Always disengage the tines when turning or transporting the tiller.
  • Never attempt to lift the tiller by yourself if transporting to a distant location. Drive the machine up secure ramps or ask for assistance if it must be lifted. Tie machine securely to prevent rolling.

Publication #: 8831-N

This document is apart of a series from 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, the 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