Intro to Lawn and Garden Safety

pruning a shrubWorking on the lawn and in the garden is wonderful exercise and can also be a way to relax from the hustle and bustle of a busy week. Lawn and garden projects often require the use of sharp tools, mowers, string trimmers, and potentially hazardous chemicals. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, each year about 400,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries related to the use of lawn and garden tools. Let’s look at specific tools and review the safety measures associated with each. But first, here are some general safety tips when working in the yard:

  • Keep pesticides and herbicides locked in cabinets when you are finished using them. As an extra precaution, place them on higher shelves.
  • Before using any equipment, make sure they are in good working condition. If you notice any irregularities in your tools, it’s better to try to clean them off or purchase new ones.
  • Never allow children to operate power lawn or garden equipment.
  • Place ladders on their sides, horizontally – never vertically. A ladder that accidentally falls when vertical has the potential to seriously injure and damage people and property.
  • Use earplugs when working with loud power equipment, as well as protective glasses and sturdy slip-resistant shoes.

Follow these rules for specific equipment:

Power Lawn Mowers – These machines require the user to walk behind and push. When inspecting underneath the mower to ensure all parts are clean and working, always turn it so that the air-filter side of the mower is faced upwards. If not, the engine will not start, as oil will likely have drained out into the air filter.

Check the air filters regularly, and use the oil and gasoline recommended by the manufacturer. Excess vibration indicates a damaged blade, mounting, or crankshaft. You should tighten the blade and engine mounting bolts often. After each use, clean the underside of the mower to prevent rust.

Riding Mowers – Unfortunately, fatal accidents from riding lawn mowers are not unheard of. The probability of an accident with this type of mower is twice as likely compared with the walk-behind mower. To ensure your safety, never carry passengers on the mower when you are operating it. Clear the yard of people before starting the machine and stop if anyone enters the area.

When turning, slow down and proceed with extreme caution. Before getting off the machine, turn off the blades, set the parking brake, stop the engine, and take the keys with you. Do not mow wet grass as the moisture can cause sliding and decrease traction.

Chain Saws – Before using this machine for the first time, read the operating manual. Before cutting anything, clear the work area, secure your footing, and keep your body away from the line of cut. If you think the chain saw is damaged, improperly adjusted or not assembled correctly, do not operate the machine.

Service your chain saw regularly. Before letting the chain saw touch the wood, bring it up to speed and when contact is made, cut at a steady speed. Never cut when standing on a ladder and never operate a chain saw when fatigued or medicated.