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Keep Your Hands Safe:
Follow Lawnmower Safety Tips

Each year, more than 74,000 small children, adolescents and adults are injured by rotary, hand and riding power mowers due to improper handling. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand would like to provide you with patient information to help you avoid these injuries.

Kinetics of Rotary Power Lawnmowers

Kinetic energy (motion) imparted by a standard rotary blade is comparable to the energy generated by dropping a 21-pound weight from a height of 100 feet or is equal to three times the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum pistol. Blade speed can eject a piece of wire or an object at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.

Injury Profile

  • Adults 25-64 years and children under age five
  • 22% involve wrist, hand or finger
  • 14% involve foot, ankle or toes
  • 25% of all hand and foot injuries result in amputation
  • Deaths occurred in children under six years of age

Common Injury Patterns

  • Direct contact with rotating or jammed blade
  • Serious tearing/separating injuries to soft tissue and bones
  • Gross contamination from contact with grass and soil harboring pathogens
  • Injuries requiring multiple staged surgeries to cleanse wounds and provide soft tissue coverage (to regenerate healthy tissue/skin)

Common Accident Conditions

  • Wet grass
  • Damp ground

Other Causes of Injury

  • Passengers (adult/child) on riding mowers or in cart towed behind mower
  • Mower being pulled backward
  • Sloping lawn mowed by power mower up and down slope, instead of across
  • Sloping lawn mowed by riding mower across slope, instead of up and down
  • Wearing sandals or open-toed shoes
  • Operator attempts to unclog blades with hand or foot

Remember the following:

  • Read your mower's instruction manual prior to use.
  • DO NOT REMOVE safety devices or guards on switches.
  • NEVER insert hands or feet into the mower to remove grass or debris. Even with the motor turned off, the blade remains engaged.
  • ALWAYS use a stick or broom handle to remove any obstruction.
  • NEVER cut grass when it is wet or when the ground is damp.
  • NEVER allow a child to operate the mower at any time or be in the area to be mowed.
  • NEVER allow passengers, other than the operator, on riding mowers.
  • Keep your mower in good working order with sharp blades.
  • DO NOT DRINK before or while using your lawnmower.
  • Wear protective boots, goggles, gloves and long pants.
  • Do not operate the lawnmower while barefoot.
  • Be cautious when mowing hills or slopes.


Copyright © American Society for Surgery of the Hand 2009.

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