There is no shortage of mowing safety tips for government grounds maintenance officials. Jimmy Eavenson, chief engineer of commercial turf products at Cleveland, Ohio-based Cub Cadet Commercial, offered this tip to GovPro.com: “Operators should not mow in conditions where traction or stability is questionable. If an area has too much slope, is wet, or the ground is deemed too uneven to operate the mower safely, use a string-trimmer or some other device.”

A few other important, common-sense pointers from Eavenson:
· Read the machine’s entire operator’s manual and all on-product warnings.
· Make sure operators are fully trained in the safe use of the machine.
· Follow all safety instructions when using the machine.
· Keep all safety labels and signs legible and properly installed.
· Keep adults, children and pets away from the area to be mowed.
· Do not operate on steep slopes, those above 15 degrees (27%).
· Avoid driving too close to ditches, drop-offs, creek banks, sand traps, etc. – maintain two cut-widths’ distance from the hazard.
· Avoid driving too close to trees, clotheslines, buildings and other obstacles.
· Avoid turning downhill if possible. If you must turn downhill, use extra care and go slowly.
· Avoid turning when going downhill, traction can be at a minimum.
· Avoid operation if the traction surface is wet, unstable or slippery.
· Control the speed and direction of zero-turn machines “primarily” with the speed/directional control (lap bar) of the downhill side of the machine -- i.e., maintain the uphill side lap bar “essentially” in a fixed position.

The Alexandria, Va.-based Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) offers a number of safety-related booklets, including “Think Safety & Environment,” which has safety tips for rider and lawn mowers. Contact Kristin Reamy at the OPEI at 703-549-7600 for copies. The following links lead to OPEI mowing safety tip sheets:

http://www.opei.org/ht/d/sp/i/225/pid/225

http://www.opei.org/ht/d/sp/i/229/pid/229

OPEI is an international trade association representing the $15 billion landscape, lawn and garden, forestry and utility equipment manufacturing industry. OPEI is committed to ongoing efforts to ensure safety and access to outdoor power equipment in order to maintain and enhance outdoor landscapes.

For more mowing tips, visit GovPro.com’s sister web site, www.grounds-mag.com, and visit the following sites for safety tips from manufacturers:
Briggs & Stratton
http://www.briggsandstratton.com/corp/safety_use/lawn_mower.aspx

John Deere

http://www.deere.com/en_US/groundscare/safety/landscapingtips.html