Toolbox Talk: Lawn Mower Safety

By Published On: April 21, 2023

More than 37,000 people are injured by lawn mowers each year, a statistic from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This includes injuries like lacerations, loss of toes and fingers, and even puncture wounds from projectiles. Lawn maintenance equipment is used by homeowners and professionals alike so the following are basic tips, please consult your owners manual for areas specific to your machine.

Safe Operation

Whether it is a commercial ezMark Zero Turn or a residential 18” push mower, there are some general safe use practices to follow.

  • Keep children away from the mowing area to protect from projectiles 
  • Never reach into the discharge shoot or bag while the blades are spinning 
  • Never reach (hand or foot) under the deck to dislodge items unless the machine engine is off
  • Walk the yard to clear away sticks, toys, rocks, and debris before starting
  • Do not mow wet grass, increases the clogging potential and slip/falls

–  Specific to Push Mowers –

  • Never pull a running mower backwards or up hill, increased risk for slips 
  • Mow across slopes, not up and down
  • Use a mower with a safety release handle that automatically shuts off when hands let go

Personal Protective Equipment

Wear long pants, safety glasses, and heavy shoes or boots. 

Hearing protection is recommended if mowing for longer than 3 hours and required at 5 hours. (Most mowers run between 89dB and 95dB)


Much like a kitchen knife, a dull blade is a dangerous blade. The mower should be kept sharp and clean for the best operation. Riding mowers are heavy, and unfortunately you have to reach under them to change the blades or clean the deck. 

  • Use a proper machine lift or rigging to support the machine (a roof rafter and a ratchet strap is NOT a proper technique)
  • Chock the rear tires and use jack stands to prevent the mower from rolling/falling while raised

Remember that engines do not care where your hands are, so disable the engine from starting while you are working on the mower.

  • Remove the key or disconnect the battery
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire. Manually rotating the blades will engage the engine and could potentially start the engine.

engine maintenance


Lawn mowers are very common and most users start around the age of 14. First time users have a lot of information to digest in a very short period, so make the directions clear and concise. Cover information in an order that makes sense, we suggest starting with:

  1. Walk around the machine and show what you can and cannot touch
  2. How to stop the machine, the blades, and the engine (prepare them for how to stop before how turn it on)
  3. How to control the engine speed, steering, and mower blades on/off
  4. How to adjust the deck height 
  5. Test drive in a flat open area 


Review and Retrain 

Complacency becomes a big factor as people become more comfortable around a hazard. Most accidents recorded are from people over the age of 44. Just because you have used something all of your adult life does not make it any less dangerous. At work or home, please follow these basic safety tips.


For Toolbox Talks related to topics mentioned in this article check out: Hearing Loss, Footwear, Safety Glasses

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