With summer just around the corner, it’s important to review important safety procedures for warm-weather work, including lawn mowing. While operating a lawn mower may seem like an easy task, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) views lawn care as a work activity requiring employees to have proper training, safe equipment and necessary personal protection equipment (PPE).
There are a few things business owners should keep in mind when assigning an employee to a lawn mowing task.
- Don’t assume all employees have the knowledge and skills to operate a mower safely. Take the time to verify that each employee knows the operating and safety precautions for the equipment.
- Employees may be afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to admit they don’t know how to handle the equipment. Remind your employees that no question is unimportant.
- Make sure your training follows OSHA’s safety manual and includes how to handle equipment, an understanding of safety features, safe mowing techniques and proper apparel and PPE.
Avoid these common lawn mowing mistakes to ensure employees stay safe and equipment is well cared for.
- Performing improper maintenance: Be sure to keep updated service records for equipment and take equipment out of use when it needs maintenance.
- Mowing slopes incorrectly: When using a walk-behind mower, you should go across slopes. However, with a riding mower, it is safer to go up and down hills.
- Ignoring or overriding safety mechanisms: Don’t disable or disengage any safety features – they are there for a reason.
- Assuming all lawn mowers are the same: Every lawn mower has unique features, and it’s important to understand what equipment you are using. In particular, zero-turn mowers move quickly, so employees should not use them without proper training.
- Not investigating the property first: Before mowing, you should always walk the land to make sure you understand the topography. Even if it’s a location you mow frequently, landscapes change often, and you may need to remove sticks or other hazards.
- Not wearing enough PPE: Mowers are loud, and hearing protection is a must to help prevent hearing loss. Tree branches and flying stones could cause significant eye damage, so eye protection is critical.
- Incorrectly transporting equipment: When moving equipment to or from a job site, make sure you follow all safety procedures for loading and unloading.
For more information, review the OSHA Mowing and Trimming Safety manual.