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A lawnmower (often spelled as one wordlawnmower) is a type of mower, used to cut grass to an even length on a smaller scale. Mowers were invented in Britain in 1830 by Edwin Beard Budding, primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and expansive gardens. Since many sports had just been invented in Britain that required a flat soft ground (such as croquet, cricket, soccer and rugby), a more efficient way of making uniform length grass was needed, and so the mower was born.
Lawnmower safety is important in rural areas where large yards are common. Mowing and maintenance around farm buildings and equipment is almost a year-round task, often one of the first farm chores delegated to young family members. Because mowing consumes so much time and routinely involves inexperienced operators, safety is a real concern. Every year thousands of people are injured in lawn mower accidents.
Last Updated - 13th November 2005
- The mower is a cutting machine designed to trim grass but has the potential to cut anything that is placed in its path. The cutting edge of the mower blade can travel at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Even a dull blade at that speed can slice fingers and toes that get in its way.
- Other materials, such as toys, stones, sticks, and equipment parts, can become projectiles when struck by the blade. These items, too, can travel up to 200 miles per hour as they leave the discharge chute. Items thrown from mowers can cause serious injury to other people in the area or to the operator when there is no rear guard. Thrown items also can cause property damage.
- In addition to cutting and projectile dangers, mowers also can cause burns. The muffler and cylinder head heat up during operation, and remain hot for some time after the engine has been turned off.
- Fuel is another danger. Most mowers are powered by gasoline-driven combustion engines. Gasoline is a very explosive and flammable material that should be treated with respect. One gallon of gasoline combined with the correct amount of air is equivalent to 83 pounds of dynamite. Gasoline is flammable because it vaporizes with air to form a mixture that ignites easily. Vaporization can occur in temperatures as low as zero degrees.
- Prepare lawn for mowing. Every time before you mow, check your lawn for items such as sticks, rocks, toys, sports equipment, dog bones, wire, and equipment parts. Make sure miscellaneous items are not hidden in tall grass. Also look for and remember immovable objects, such as pipes, or partially buried rocks. Running into a fixed object can shatter the blade and throw jagged chunks of metal out the discharge chute or under the housing.
- Handle fuel with care. Always use care when filling the tank with gasoline. Wipe up spills. Never fill the tank on a mower that has been operating and is hot. Vapors from the gasoline can be ignited by a hot muffler.
- Wear appropriate clothes. Close-fitting clothes are less likely to get caught on controls or moving parts. Long pants and sturdy leather shoes protect you from flying sticks, stones, or other items not caught by the rear guard. Shoes also should provide good traction. A canvas or opentoed shoe cannot protect your foot if it slips into the blade. When mowing for long periods of time or if noise is objectionable, wear hearing protection such as earplugs.
- Use safe mowing techniques. - Make sure other people, especially children, are out of the area. Young children should be supervised in the house while the yard is being mowed. They cannot understand the dangers, and the operator may not hear or see children approach.
Never point the discharge chute at anyone. You never know when something will be thrown from the mower. Never run the mower over gravel.
- Do not mow wet grass. Wet grass is slippery and the operator can lose footing, slip under the mower, or allow the mower to roll backwards. Wet grass also clogs the discharge chute and can cause the engine to falter. When this happens, always turn off the engine and wait a few seconds for the blades to stop rotating before correcting it.
- Use care on inclines. Some slopes are too steep to mow safely, so use good judgment. Always push walk-behind mowers across slopes to avoid coming in contact with the mower (e.g., by sliding down the hill onto the mower, or allowing the mower to roll backwards on top of operator). Drive riding mowers up and down slopes.
- Never leave a running mower unattended. When you leave the operator's position the mower should be turned off. New models have an operator presence switch that automatically kills the engine when the operator releases the handle.
- Disconnect spark plug to service. Disconnect the spark plug when you work on the mower. This prevents the engine from accidentally being started. Many people are hurt every year because mowers start unexpectedly when the blade is turned by hand. Keep all parts in working condition. Fluid leaks (gas or oil), blade sharpening, and balancing may require professional service.
Safe mower features
- Safety features on newer mowers help prevent hazardous situations that can lead to injury. Do not disconnect special features or controls to avoid using them. Look for a shield on the back blade housing behind the rear wheels of the mower. This shield protects the operator's feet from exposure to the blade and thrown objects.
- A deadman switch, or operator presence switch, requires the operator to hold the device to keep the mower running. If for some reason the operator releases the switch, the engine is turned off. When placed at the correct location, the switch makes it physically impossible for an operator to hold the switch and reach down to the danger area where the blade is operating. Some switches also have a braking device that stops blade rotation.
- Think of the layout of the yard and ways to make mowing safer. Do you have steep slopes that are dangerous and difficult to mow? Are there lots of trees with low-hanging branches to mow around? Retaining walls can help reduce inclines, and flower beds eliminate the need for mowing in difficult areas. Adding mulch one to three feet around a tree (depending on size) makes trimming easier. Keep trees pruned properly so that you can see while mowing. Filling depressions or low spots ith soil can help you prevent sprains.
Additional Safety Tips
- Carefully read and follow safety instructions in your owner's manual.
- Periodically check the lawn mower.
- Make sure nuts, bolts and screws are tight.
- Remove grass, debris and excessive grease from the engine.
- Fill gas tank outdoors while the engine is cold. Stay away from all heat sources (including cigarettes. Immediately wipe up any spills. Replace gas cap securely.
- Set the blade height for at least 2 to 3 inches.
- Avoid loose clothing and jewelry
- Tie back long hair
- Make sure the lawn mower is on level ground when you start it.
- Stay clear of the blades when starting your lawn mower
- Allow no one, especially children and animals, in the area where you are working.
- If someone approaches you while you are mowing the lawn, turn off the engine.
- Move across, rather than up or down, a slope.
- Never make a sharp turn on a slope.
- Frequently remove debris from the blades with a stick. Be sure to turn the engine off first and wait for the blades to stop. Unplug an electric mower and disconnect the spark plug on a gasoline-powered mower.
- Turn the engine off if you need to leave the mower unattended.
- Always put the mower away after you use but let the engine cool off first.
- Walk behind power mowers.
- Never raise or tilt the mower once it is running.
- Do not carry passengers on riding mowers.
- Look behind you before you back up on a riding mower to be sure no one has strayed into the area.
- Mow slowly and avoid holes and sudden drops while on a riding mower which could cause the machine to overturn.
- When getting off a riding mower, be sure the blade is disengaged and the transmission is in PARK.
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