riding mower

Provided by Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Mowing the grass is a task so common most don’t give it a second thought. Unfortunately, it presents significant hazards that can lead to serious injury, even death. These accidents are more common than you may think.

We have seen two serious injuries in Ohio recently. Earlier this month, a zero-turn riding lawn mower flipped, killing a 59-year-old county groundskeeper. In April, a 47-year-old school custodian was hospitalized after he lost control of a zero-turn mower and fell over an embankment into a canal.

Each of these incidents is a chilling reminder of the hazards that come with an activity so many of us find routine. As mowing season is in full swing, remember that employers are responsible for providing workers with proper training, safe equipment and the necessary personal protective equipment before they can operate any lawn mower.

The following tips and resources can help make lawn mower operations safer for yourself and your workers.

General tips
  • Train and retrain employees to maintain competency to operate a riding mower safely.
  • Inspect the terrain for hazards.
  • Always start a riding mower from the operator position and never mount or dismount when it is running.
  • Make sure every mower includes an operable auto shut-off when the rider is not in the seat.
  • Never carry passengers. Riding mowers are one-person machines.
Slope mowing tips

Slopes are a major factor related to loss of control and tip-over accidents, which can result in injury or death. Operation on slopes requires extra caution. If you cannot back up the slope or if you feel uneasy on it, do not mow it.

  • Mow on slopes in the direction recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Never start or stop a riding mower when it is going uphill or downhill. Avoid all sudden starts, stops or turns.
  • Examine all safety devices to ensure the Roll-Over Protection Structure, guards, seat belts and shields are in place and properly used.
  • To avoid injury or death from roll-over, use the seat belt and keep the ROPS fully raised and in the locked position.
  • Check carefully for overhead clearance and avoid contact with overhead objects.
  • Do not mow on slopes greater than 15 degrees, unless allowed by the manufacturer.

Find other important mowing tips regarding tire traction, making turns, and hazards in BWC’s mowing safety bulletin. Visit bwc.ohio.gov for additional information about keeping your workers safe this summer.

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. We’ve got you Covered.
Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio, serving 249,000 public and private employers. With nearly 1,600 employees and assets of approximately $25 billion, BWC is one of the largest state-run insurance systems in the United States. For more, visit bwc.ohio.gov.
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