Mowing After Hours Could Be Costly

Safety Watch 20

The accident: A lawn maintenance crewmember is cutting the grass in a drainage ditch at 10:45 p.m. with limited visibility because of the darkness. The ground is at a 45-degree angle. While mowing, he hits the concrete drain tile. The mower flips over, lands on the operator and crushes him. He dies of chest injuries.

The bottom line: If the worker had worn a seatbelt or used a mower with a rollover protection structure (ROPS), his death could have been prevented. Before attempting to mow a steep area, crewmembers should first look at the equipment’s manual to see the maximum slope allowed for that specific machine. Here are more tips for preventing rollovers.

  • Avoid sudden moves: Abrupt stops and starts can cause the equipment to flip.
  • Slow down when turning. Turning quickly and sharply can cause the mower to overturn. Don’t make a turn on a slope unless absolutely necessary. If turning is required, turn slowly and downhill.
  • Do not mow at night. Even with streetlights, vision is limited when it is dark outside, increasing the danger level of the project.
  • For riding mowers, mow up and down slopes – not across – and keep the heavy end uphill.  With walk-behind mowers, mow across slopes to keep from sliding underneath the mower.
  • If the angle is too steep, use a trimmer to cut the area.
  • Do not mow over anything other than grass. Mow around objects that can’t be removed and follow up with a trimmer.
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