Think Safety With ... Walk-Behind Rotary Lawnmowers

Product Definition

  • Walk-behind rotary mowers are push or self-propelled cutting machines, either gas or electric powered. Approximately 75 percent of walk-behind mowers are used to mow lawns ½ acre or smaller.

Standard Safety Feature

  • Operator Presence Control (OPC) System -- As mandated by the federal government, every walk-behind rotary lawnmower must have an operator presence control system. The OPC insures that the blade comes to a complete stop within three seconds after the blade control is released.
  • Two types of OPC's may be used:
    1. Blade Brake Clutch (BBC) -- Blade stops within 3 seconds while engine continues to run.
    2. Zone System -- Blade and engine stop within 3 seconds.

Before Mowing

  • Dress properly for the job, wearing substantial shoes, long pants and close-fitting clothes.
  • Clean up and clear out the area before you start mowing.
  • When using a gas powered mower, fill your gasoline tank while the engine is cold. Don't spill when you fill. If you need to refuel before completing a task, turn off the machine and allow the engine to cool. Never light a match or smoke around gasoline.
  • Always start the mower outdoors.
  • Read the operator's manual to find out where controls are and what they do, and always check for additional safety instructions. Know how to stop the machine quickly. Do not remove or disable guards or other safety devices.

Operate Your Mower Carefully

  • Never mow wet grass. You may slip on wet grass, and your mower is more likely to clog.
  • Always turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire, if accessible, before attempting to unclog or work on the mower. Then use a stick if possible to remove the clog. Avoid having your hands near the blade.
  • Always shut off the engine when adjusting the mower height.
  • Mow in sufficient daylight, looking 3 feet to 4 feet ahead for debris.
  • Always watch your footing on slopes. Mow across an incline and never mow an incline that is too steep for balance and control.
  • Never pull the mower towards you. Always push in a forward direction.
  • Keep the mower flat. Never lift the mower.
  • Always turn the mower off when crossing a sidewalk or drive.
  • Stop the mower immediately and turn it off if you hit an object. Inspect the machine and repair any damage before starting the machine.
  • When using an electric powered mower with a cord, always use recommended, grounded extension cords. Never use a cord that's cut or damaged. Mow away from the cord and always unplug immediately after use.

Keep Your Mower in Peak Operating Condition

  • Inspect the mower periodically for potential hazards:
    • Loose belts
    • Missing or damaged guards
    • Accumulations of grass, leaves or excessive grease to reduce fire hazard
  • Seek the professional advice and/or service of a qualified servicing dealer for problems.
  • Take your mower to an experienced servicing dealer every year for a safety and maintenance inspection.

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