Think Safety With ... Rear-Engine Riding Mowers, Lawn Tractors and Garden Tractors

Product Definitions

  • Select The Proper Equipment For Completing The Task -- Rear-engine riding mowers, lawn tractors and garden tractors are all designed to cut grass; however, the engine power, cutting widths, and other capabilities of these products are very different. Don't select a product that may be too small or unsuitable for the job. Ask your retailer/dealer for assistance.
  • Rear-Engine Riding Mowers and Lawn Tractors are self-propelled riding vehicles generally designed for mowing lawns. Nearly 50% of rear-engine riding mowers are used for lawns 1/2 to 1 acre in size, while lawn tractors are generally used for areas larger than one acre. Although both may offer options such as sweeper or snow thrower attachments, they are not powerful enough to pull a plow.
  • Garden Tractors are designed to supply sufficient power for home lawn, garden and yard attachments: moldboard plows, tillers, cultivators, snow throwers, sweepers, leaf mulchers, etc. Fifty percent of garden tractors are used for areas larger than two acres.

Look for the Following Safety Features

  • An operator presence control system that shuts off the blades when the operator dismounts the machine or rises from the seat.
  • Interlocks to ensure the engine cannot start while the mower is in gear or the blade is engaged.

Before Operating

  • Dress properly for the job, wearing substantial shoes, long pants and close-fitting clothes.
  • Clean up and clear out the area of people, especially children, and pets before you start mowing.
  • Fill your gasoline tank only when the engine is cold. If you need to refuel before completing a job, turn off the machine and allow the engine to cool. Don't spill when you fill. Never light a match or smoke around gasoline.
  • 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.
  • Keep children out of the mowing area.

Operate Riding Mowers and Tractors Carefully

  • Always start the machine from the operator's seat. Never start the machine while standing beside the tractor.
  • Riding mowers and tractors are one-person machines. Operate from the drivers seat only and never carry any passengers, especially children. Keep both feet on the machine at all times.
  • Take care not to throw a unit in gear accidentally and have it jerk ahead unexpectedly.
  • When operating the machine on unleveled ground, use extreme care. Always mow up and down slopes -- never across. Avoid sudden starts, stops or turns.
  • Decrease your speed when going down slopes or around sharp corners to prevent tipping. Maintain minimum ground speed and make turns wide and gradual.
  • Protect hands when handling the blades and other items which might be sharp, contain nicks or have metal burrs on the edges.
  • Never jump off the machine or dismount from moving equipment. Observe proper shutdown procedures before dismounting.

Keep Your Mower/Tractor in Peak Operating Condition

  • Inspect the mower/tractor 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 riding mower or tractor 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