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Lawn Mower Safety Guide

So the warm weather is approaching, summer is on its way, and you look out at your garden and remind yourself that the lawn is going to need cutting soon. After its winter hibernation, the grass is starting to reach up to the sun and before long, if you’re not careful, you’re going to lose your dog in there. Before you pull out your mower though, have a read of this lawn mower safety guide so you don’t end up doing yourself some mischief!

Safety has to come first when mowing your lawn

Most of the small tips and advice you’ll find in this section could probably be filed under the common sense category. But, health and safety statistics tell us that most accidents in the home occur in the situations that we take for granted and can be prevented.

Knowing how to safely use your petrol lawn mower can range from ensuring that the mower is maintained properly through to its actual use when you have it on the lawn. You have to read the user manual that came supplied with your mower. Yes, you may know what you’re doing generally and think you could overlook this, but there could be important information contained within that is specific to that particular brand or model. But more importantly, read the first entry on our list below :

Read your mower safety instructions

We usually ignore this part of the manual thinking we know all about safety. But that’s how accidents happen. The information supplied in this part of the user manual is usually both general safety advice and advice for the particular brand or model of the mower we’re using. Please read it and don’t ignore it.

Check the condition of your mower before use

You don’t have to pull the mower apart and strip the engine down to its bare bones, but check over some of the major parts. Just like you’d check the tires and oil on your car if you were going on a trip out, do the same with your mower before firing it up. It’s not only a good safety tip but can help prolong the life of your mower too.

  • Check to make sure there are no oil or petrol leaks.
  • Ensure that the cutting blades aren’t loose or restricted.
  • Make sure that the throttle handle isn’t sticking.
  • Check that each wheel is properly attached.

The lawn mower blades are sharp so don’t mow the lawn in your socks

Always wear good solid footwear when you mow the lawn. The blades can spin at a high rpm and will attempt to cut anything in their way, especially squishy flesh. A moments lost concentration could easily result in a lost toe or two. Wear boots if you have them and hard wearing shoes if you don’t.

Clear any objects or debris from the lawn before mowing

Pay particular attention to any stones that might be buried in the grass. If one of these gets lifted by the blades they can be fired from the side of the mower like a bullet if a little gap can be found. Mostly, a protective shield surrounds the blades but if it’s an old mower and you’ve not been great with your maintenance over the years, then part of this shield might have broken off or weakened. In addition, again, this can help prolong the life of your mower too.

Push powered mowers should always be pushed away from you

Pushing a mower back and forth over the grass is an accident waiting to happen, especially if your toes get in the way on a back pull. Always push the mower away from you. Fortunately, with more and more self-propelled mowers becoming cheaper and the norm, then hopefully, this will become an accident of the past.

Switch off the engine and wait for the blades to stop before checking for faults

When you leave go of the throttle, the engine stops sending power to the cutting blades, however, it takes a short while for them to actually stop rotating. Don’t be thinking it’s ok to leave go of the throttle and then straight away tip the mower sideways to check for a fault or to clean. Those cutting blades will still be looking to cut for a few seconds.

Likewise, before any sort of maintenance or cleaning of your mower, switch the engine off.

Never smoke while your mowing the lawn

As an ex-smoker, I used to love having a cup of tea waiting on a near side garden table and smoke a cigarette while mowing the lawn – with my electric flymo. But remember the key word in the term petrol lawn mower. Petrol can go boom if it’s not respected. If you’re going to smoke in the garden put a good distance between yourself and the mower and make sure the engine isn’t running. Even then, if you can smell petrol fumes, don’t light up!

Store your petrol safely

For similar reasons mentioned above, always make sure that you store your petrol when not needed in a neutral environment and never exceed the guidelines and law concerning how much petrol is a safe amount to store.

Don’t refill your fuel tank in a confined space or when the engine is hot

Fuel vapour has a nasty habit of hanging around if there is no escape for it and it’s just waiting for some form of ignition. Fill your tank up in the open air and, as the second part of the header above states, do so when your engine is cold. If you run out of petrol mid mow, then wait for a while for things to cool down.

If you’re performing maintenance, remove the spark plugs

Any little spark can ignite fuel vapour and if you’re working on the engine of your mower for any reason, then just unplug the spark plugs, because as their name suggests, they can provide that little spark that could result in your losing more than your eyebrows.

Perform regular servicing and maintenance checks

Keeping your mower in tip-top shape when not in use will not only save you money in the long run, but could prevent many accidents before they have a chance to develop. Pay particular attention to this when you’ve had your mower in storage over winter and out of use. Before the first mow of the spring / summer make sure you give your mower the full once over and a service (ie. change the oil). If messing with an engine isn’t in your area of expertise, any car mechanic you know will have the skills necessary to help you out. Might want you to mow his lawn to return the favour, but hey, this is small price to pay when you think about it.

If you follow this advice in this short lawn mower safety guide then you should be able to avoid most accidents that can occur. However, always be mindful that most accidents in life happen can happen when you least expect them and they can come from the most extraordinary of circumstance, so always be on your toes and make sure the mower isn’t. Safe gardening.

Updated: April 19, 2014 — 4:14 pm