04/21/10   |   By

Lawn Mower Safety: Practice Common Sense | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

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Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner

If you believe in urban legend, you might think that lawn mowers attack their victims. In reality, lawn mowing is an extremely dangerous activity that is frequently viewed as just one of those chores routinely delegated to children.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 230,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for accidents related to lawn and garden tools.  Most lawn mower-related injuries, including limb amputations, broken bones, severed toes and fingers, burns and eye injuries, are caused by carelessness and can be prevented by obeying simple safety tips.

“CPSC advises consumers to learn about the hazards of each piece of equipment, and take the following precautions to prevent injuries to children and themselves:

  • Children should never be in the yard while you’re mowing, and they should never ride on the mower. More than 800 young children get run over or backed over by riding mowers each year. This happens when children fall while being given rides, or when they approach the operating mower.
  • Never assume children will remain where you last saw them. Be alert and turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area. Use extra care when backing up or going around corners, shrubs, trees or other obstacles.
  • Many children suffer serious burns to their hands and arms when they touch the hot muffler of running or recently running engines. Keep children away from power equipment.
  • Be sure you know how to operate the equipment. Know where the controls are and what they do. Make sure the equipment is in proper operating condition and guards or other safety devices have not been removed or disabled.
  • Dress appropriately for the job. This includes: sturdy shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles, long pants and long-sleeved shirts, close-fitting clothes, eye protection, heavy gloves, hearing protection when needed, and no jewelry, which can get caught in moving parts.
  • Before mowing, walk around the area in which you will be working to remove any objects like sticks, glass, metal, wire, stones and string that could cause injury or damage equipment. Nails and wire are the most hazardous objects thrown by mowers, capable of killing bystanders.
  • Never work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs come in several models, including portable plug-in types and as part of some extension cords.
  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.
  • Before making adjustments or clearing jams near moving parts, unplug electric tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools.
  • Be sure that power tools are turned off and made inoperable if they must be left unattended. This will help prevent use by children.
  • Handle gasoline carefully. Remember never to fill gas tanks while machinery is operating or when equipment is still hot. Do not fuel equipment indoors. Wipe up spills. Store gas in an approved container away from the house. Finally, never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline.”

Common sense safety precautions are critical in prevention of many accidents.  Of course, sometimes injuries result from product defects.  If a lawn mower is defective, the safety of its user is threatened.  Serious defects can lead to mechanical failures that cause terrible injuries.

If you have questions about this issue or others concerning your safety or that of your children, please feel free to email me @ [email protected] or call me at 202-822-1899.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including serious truck and car collisions. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Law and Politics magazine–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to give presentations to lawyers and businesses regarding product defects, automobile accident litigation, and safety improvements.

Regan Zambri Long
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