Lawn Mowing Safety

Dee Jepsen – State Agricultural Safety & Health Leader

Summer fun can be cut short when lawn mower safety is not practiced. Each year, nearly 80,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for various types of injuries including deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye injuries. Sadly, many of these injuries occur to children and teens.

A report by Nationwide Children’s Hospital finds children are injured in various ways, and the types of injuries vary by their age. Oftentimes, these young victims are not operating the mower; they are injured when they are passengers of riding mowers, or are a bystander in the mowing area. Passengers and bystanders are almost four times more likely than operators to be admitted for serious medical attention.

Children and toddlers can be taught lawn mower safety at an early age. They can learn to recognize dangers and taught to respect the machinery for the work it performs. Adults and teens can practice lawn mower safety, including being a good role model for safe equipment operation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following recommendations to prevent serious injury:

  • All shields should be kept in place to prevent contact with blades and other moving parts.
  • The interlock system should not be disabled or compromised in any way. This feature is in place to stop the blades when an operator leaves the seat of a riding mower or releases the hand controls of a push mower.
  • Riding mowers manufactured with a no-mow-in-reverse mechanism should be set to factory mode, and not disabled. It is not advised to mow in reverse. Push style mowers, when operated in reverse can be pulled over the foot. Riding mowers can back over children and other bystanders.
  • Make sure children are indoors or at a safe distance from the mowing area at all times of operation.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on lawn mower equipment.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects – such as stones, sticks and toys – by picking up the objects before mowing begins.
  • Use a collection bag for grass clippings or a plate that covers the opening where cut grass is released.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel surfaces.
  • Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Mowers should be re-fueled with the motor turned off and cool.
  • Operators should wear sturdy shoes (not sandals or light canvass sneakers).
  • Depending on the job, other protective gear for the operator includes anti-vibration gloves, hearing and eye protection.
  • Follow age recommendations for young operators: a minimum age of 12 years for walk behind mowers and a minimum age of 16 years for ride on mowers.

For more information about agricultural safety, contact Dee Jepsen, at or 614-292-6008. For more information about injuries documented by Nationwide Children's Hospital, see the article: "Lawn mower injuries send 13 children to the emergency department every day: Researchers encourage parents to keep young children inside while mowing and teach teens safety tips." ScienceDaily. (accessed July 3, 2018).