farm safety Don’t take mowing lightly

Seemingly simple chore can be hazardous if proper precautions aren’t taken.


his time of year is usually hectic. There are a lot of chores to complete, then thrown into the mix are various holidays, graduations, maybe even crop planting. All this apart, there is the abundant grass to mow.

While too much rain can postpone the planting season a little, nothing really prevents grass from growing. Since it is such a common activity, there is a tendency to view mowing as being less hazardous than is really the case. The following explains how to minimize risk while using a mower. The blade on the typical lawn mower rotates to provide approximately 52 cuts per second. Translated into feet, the tip of the cutting blade of the mower travels about 90 metres (300 feet) in the same second.

Each year, it is not uncommon to read or hear about someone whose foot was caught underneath a walk- behind mower, or about the person whose eye got hit by an object thrown by a mower.

Increasingly, there seem to be more instances of the larger ride-on lawn tractors overturning and pinning the operator.

Here are a few reminders of techniques for safe operation with a walk-behind mower:

• Read the owners manual; it contains information about your specific mower.

• Wear proper clothing — close fitting clothes and shoes with safety toes and traction soles (preferably leather). Eye protection is always recommended. Ear protection will reduce the level of noise heard. • Clear the area to be mowed of debris that may be thrown. (The same updraft that helps raise the grass for better mowing also helps to pick up objects.)

• Keep children and other bystanders away from the mowing area.

• Mow in a forward direction. It’s British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2018 17

more difficult at times but safer. • When mowing on a slope, mow across it .This keeps a better distance between you and mower in case of a slip.

• Wait until the grass is dry before mowing. When the grass is growing rapidly, there is typically more left from the previous cutting. This retains moisture and causes slips. This is in addition to the lack of traction normally available on wet grass.

• Always shut off the mower before adjusting it or clearing clogs. • Allow the mower to cool before refueling. Use only approved safety containers to store fuel.

For ride-on mowers, follow the above recommendations except

always mow up and down the slope. Other considerations that need to be followed with ride-on mowers, in addition to the above, are: • Never carry passengers.

• Remove the ignition key after each use.

• Use age 10 as a guideline to allow youth to operate riding mowers. It is not until this age that many have developed the cognitive and motor abilities needed for safe operation. Even at this age, adult supervision is a necessity.

• Keep all safety devices, switches, guards, and shields in place and working.

• Before dismounting, shut off the engine and allow attachments to stop moving.

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