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Position Statement

Power Lawnmower Safety

This Position Statement was developed as an educational tool based on the opinion of the authors. It is not a product of a systematic review. Readers are encouraged to consider the information presented and reach their own conclusions.

More than 210,000 people – including approximately 16,000 children - were treated in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms for lawnmower-related injuries in 2007, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lawnmower injuries often result in partial or complete amputation of both lower and upper extremities.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons believes that the great majority of these injuries are preventable. The Academy recommends the following safety guidelines when using lawnmower equipment.

  • Never let children operate lawnmowers. Keep kids 15 years of age and younger away when lawnmowers are in use.
  • Children should not be in the yard while the lawn is being mowed.
  • No riders other than the operator, regardless of age, should be allowed on a riding mower.
  • Be sure the motor has been turned off before inspecting or repairing power lawnmower equipment.
  • Do not tamper with safety release switches.
  • Keep lawnmowers in good working order with sharp blades.
  • Remove stones, toys and other objects from the lawn before you start mowing.
  • Wear protective gloves, goggles, boots and long pants when you use lawnmowers. Never mow barefoot or in sandals.
  • Use caution when mowing hills and slopes. Mow across with a push mower; mow up and down with a riding mower. Do not cut wet grass.
  • Be sure the motor is off before inspecting or repairing lawnmower equipment.
  • Read the instruction manual before using a lawnmower.
  • Be sober (i.e., don’t drink and mow.)
  • Do not remove safety devices, shield or guards on switches, and keep hands and feet away from moving parts.
  • Stay away from the engine cowling, as it can become very hot and burn unprotected flesh.
  • Add fuel before starting the engine, not when it is running or hot.
  • Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawnmowers or snowblowers.
  • Do not leave a lawnmower unattended when it is running. If you must walk away from the machine, shut off the engine.

March 1998 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Revised December 2008.

This material may not be modified without the express written permission of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Position Statement 1142

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