Are you shopping for a new riding mower or garden tractor? Safety experts say that new safety features are being added to reduce accidents like tipover, rollover and body contact with the rotating blade.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, riding mowers and garden tractors built after July 1, 1987 will have the new safety features, but most manufacturers have already included the safety innovations on early 1987 models. Government and industry safety experts hope to reduce the 75 deaths and 18,000 hospital-treated injuries that occur each year from riding mower accidents.
Among the new riding mower-tractor safety features is an operator presence control that will stop the blades when the operator leaves his/her normal operating position. Dynamic turn and sudden reaction performance limits have been added to improve machine stability. A seatback height requirement of at least four and a half inches has also been added to provide better support for mower operators. Ask or look for an indication that the mower has been certified to meet the 1986 revisions to the ANSI 871.1 Standard.
Several million dollars will be expended by CPSC and industry in research efforts over the next few years to address tipover and other equipment hazards. However, even with improvements in machine operation, the consumer needs to observe safety practices to further reduce serious injury or death.
CPSC offers the following safety tips for tractors and riding mowers:
- Drive up and down slopes, not across.
- Avoid sudden turns; slow wide turns reduce the chance of tipover.
- If the machine stops when you are moving uphill, disengage the blade first, then back straight down the hill slowly.
- Don't allow children on the mower. Make sure children are both out of the mowing area and supervised by an adult.
- Before backing up, look down and behind the machine. Children art often attracted to the mower and the mowing activity.
- Keep guards, shields, switches and safety devices operational at all times.
- Clear lawn of objects such as rocks, toys, wire etc. which could be picked up and thrown by the blade.
- Finally, read and follow the operator's manual
Walk behind rotary lawn mowers are subject to both voluntary are mandatory rules. The mandatory standard, which requires an operator presence control to stop the blade within 3 seconds, went into effect July 1, 1982. The mandatory standard addresses hand and foot blade contact injuries. The voluntary standard addresses structural strength and thrown object related hazards.
The safety tips for walk behind mowers include the warnings to keep children out of the mowing area, keep guards, shields and safety devices operational, and remove any objects on the lawn that could be thrown by the blade. When mowing on slopes, always mow across the slopes, never up and down.
Walk behind rotary lawn mowers were involved in 37,000 hospital treated injuries in 1986.