7 Essential Lawn Mower Safety Tips For Beginners

Operate the best lawn mower safely or risk serious to catastrophic injury.

Seriously, lawn mower safety is no joke…

…Have you seen the injuries a lawn mower blade can cause?

The sad thing is 99% of lawn mower accidents are avoidable.

It’s crazy: You see lawn care professionals wearing eye protection, steel toe boots, long pants and gloves and then you see your neighbour mowing in shorts, flip flops and his kids are playing on the grass 4 feet away.

Don’t be stupid. You wouldn’t take these risks at work don’t take them at home.

Today we will look in detail at some common lawn mower injuries and then 7 lawn mower safety tips to stay safe.

Accidents and Injuries: Why You Need To Be Careful When Operating a Lawn Mower 

Check Out These Lawn Mower Accident Statistics:

Lawn Mower Accident Statistics

  • Did you know lawn mower accidents are the leading cause of amputation in children (under age 10) in the USA?
  • Between 2005 and 2015 there were around 934,000 lawn mower injuries treated in US emergency departments – almost 85,000 per year on average.
  • What body parts were injured most often?
    • The hand/finger was injured in 22.3% of accidents
    • The leg/foot was injured in 16.2% of lawn mower accidents
  • What type of injury was most common?
    • Lacerations accounted for 23.1% of injuries
    • Sprains accounted for 18.8%
    • Burns and fractures were also common
  • The average age of people who had lawn mower accidents and were treated in an emergency department from 2005 – 2015 was 46.5 years old.
  • Men accounted for 77% and women 23% of lawn mower injury patients.
  • Over 90% of people treated in hospital were sent home immediately after treatment.
  • Statistics come from PubMed: “Lawn mower injuries presenting to the emergency department: 2005 to 2015.”

Check Out These 5 Examples of Lawn Mower Injuries:

WARNING: Don’t scroll further if you get sick looking at bad injuries/blood

Lawn mower injury #1: Major foot laceration of 6 year old kid

As you can see this poor fella got a major cut through his left foot from a lawn mower blade. As well as a cut through his achilles tendon.

Lawn mower injury cut foot 6 year old

He was immediately taken in an ambulance to the emergency department and treated for his injuries as best possible.

Lawn mower injury #2: Sole of foot cut nearly clean off

Can you guess how this happened?

Lawn mower injury cut off foot sole

He was mowing and then instead of continuing to push the mower he decided to turn around and pull the mower as he walked in front of it.

He got his foot stuck but the mower kept coming and ran over while the blades were turning.

Can you guess what type of footwear he was wearing?


Lawn mower injury #3: Cut 3 toes from lawn mower blade

Another injury caused by wearing open toe footwear (sandals or flip flops).

3 toes on this person’s right foot were lacerated and treated at the emergency department.

Lawn mower accident cut toes

Lawn mower injury #4: Crushed big toe

This 50-year old male was run over by a commercial lawnmower and his big toe was crushed.

Crushed big toe lawn mower injury

He said he was wearing steel-toe boots and continued to work for 6 hours before going to the hospital.

Lawn mower injury #5: Kid cut hand on lawn mower blade

We are not sure exactly how this kid cut their hand but it was caused by a lawn mower blade and you can see how serious the laceration is.

Lawn mower injury cut kids hand

Safety First: Almost Every Family Has a Lawn Mower

The reason there are so many lawn mower accidents each year is because so many people use lawn mowers.

  • It is estimated 71% of families own a lawn mower

Risk of Lawn Mower Injury = Likelihood x Impact

  • The impact (injury severity) will reduce by wearing protective equipment like steel toe boots and gloves.
  • In a given year the likelihood will increase with frequency of mowing (twice per week vs once per month).

Learning how to use a lawn mower safely needs to be taken more serious.

There are full day courses lawn care associations offer on just lawn mower safety and mowing safety.

Read the below 7 safety tips to reduce the risk of you or your loved ones suffering a lawn mower injury.

7 Lawn Mower Safety Tips

Here’s the essential 7 lawn mower safety tips for beginners:

Lawn Mowing Safety Tip #1 – ‘Take 5’

Take 5 minutes before you mow to think through the job, identify any hazards and think through how you can control any risks.

Literally take a piece of paper and write down the following:

  • Task: Mow my lawn
  • Date: Date of mow

And then answer the following questions with either a Yes or No:

  • Am I fit for work and ready?
    • Yes? All good.
    • No? Hazard: You feel sick or tired or hungover. Control: Go rest for a few hours before mowing.
  • Am I in the area where I will be mowing?
    • Yes? All good.
    • No? Hazard: You can’t see your lawn so you can’t see any potential problems like toys in the yard. Control: Go outside and walk over your lawn to see any toys or obstructions on the lawn.
  • Is there anything new or different I see in my yard?
    • Yes? Hazard: You might see a fallen over tree or a new tennis ball or tree root emerging. Control: Be aware of the hazard and avoid or remove them.
    • No? All good.
  • Is this my first time mowing this lawn, using this mower or working with anyone new?
    • Yes? Hazard: You have unknowns and may not know what to do if your mower starts smoking or your co-worker does something unexpected. Control: Become familiar with your new lawn, mower or co-worker.
    • No? All good.
  • Could any vehicles or kids be in the line of fire?
    • Yes? Hazard: Rocks may fly up and break your car window or hit your kids body. Control: Move anything in the line of fire – like your car – further away. Also keep kids away from yard for the time you are mowing.
    • No?
  • Do I need to block off the area with danger tape or fence?
    • Yes? Hazard: You are mowing in a high traffic area where people or cars are constantly moving around in. Control: Use orange safety cones and danger tape to block off the surrounding area where you are mowing.
    • No? All good.
  • Do I have the correct protective equipment and tools for the job?
    • Yes? All good make sure you wear it.
    • No? Hazard: Cuts, bruises, sprains and fractures by the mower, mower blade or surrounding surfaces. Control: Wear safety gloves, boots, long pants, eye protection and hearing protection.

Why is this tip important?

Thinking through the mow before mowing is such an easy thing to do to reduce a ton of risk. Being aware of what you can do to control any hazards is the best thing you can do to stay safe and avoid accidents.

Safety Tip #2 – Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)

It is really dumb how many lawn mower accidents are avoided by wearing proper PPE.

But what is the most important PPE for you to wear when mowing?

Here is our tier list of the most important lawn mowing personal protective equipment:

Tier List Lawn Mowing PPE 600px
  • Must have: Foot protection is crucial when mowing as your feet are directly in harms way. High ankle steel toe boots will protect your feet from almost all foot injuries caused by lawn mowers.
  • Great: Safety gloves are next most important because as you start the mower, empty the clippings and use your hands when mowing they are a potential injury point.
  • Good: Safety glasses and hearing protection headphones are next most important. Hearing protection is great but hearing damage is caused by lawn mower loud noises over time. And since most people only mow the lawn for 1 hour every 2 weeks you are not being exposed to enough loudness to cause hearing damage – but they are still good to wear. Safety glasses – both tinted and not tinted – are good to wear but since your eyes are far above the line of fire they are in the ‘good’ tier.
  • Nice to have: High vis pants, long sleeve shirt and hat with neck protection are all in the nice to have tier. Wearing shorts when mowing with high ankle steel toe boots is not ideal but the high ankle boots are going to protect your foot and lower leg from 99% of injuries. Pants would be better but not important enough to be more than nice to have. Long sleeve shirt and sun protection hat are also in the nice to have category.

Why is this tip important?

Very close to 100% of lawn mower accidents are prevented with PPE. Wear it!

Safety Tip #3 – Become familiar how to operate your lawn mower by reading the User Manual

Whether you are using a walk-behind mower or riding mower you need to be familiar with it before you use it.

The best way to do this?

Read the User Manual front-to-back the night before you will be using your mower for the first time or if you haven’t used it in awhile.

The User Manual will tell you:

  • What oil to use
  • How to start the mower
  • What fuel to use
  • Troubleshooting tips should anything start to go wrong
  • How to maintain it to keeping it running smooth for years
  • And where to get it fixed if it is broken and you can’t fix it yourself.

Why is this tip important?

The quicker you can identify a hazard with your mowers operation the quicker you can act and stop an accident happening.

Safety Tip #4 – Be aware of your surroundings like you would if you were driving a car

Just like you are looking both ways and in your rear view mirror when driving you should be aware of your surroundings when mowing your lawn.

  • Are cars driving down the street?
  • Are kids playing basketball in my neighbors yard?
  • Are my kids aware I am mowing?
  • Are there dogs nearby running around?

Why is this tip important?

Be aware what is around you so you can predict if something is about to go wrong.

Safety Tip #5 – Never leave the mower running unattended

This one seems simple but you would be surprised how many accidents occur from leaving a lawn mower running while you take a break for whatever reason.

If you are on a hill the mower could roll is basically the hazard here.

Why is this tip important?

An unattended running lawn mower is not predictable and could start rolling on its own.

Safety Tip #6 – Make sure mower is maintained and in good working order

  • You don’t want to use a mower that at any second the blade could fall off because someone didn’t properly tighten the nuts and bolts when changing the blade.
  • You don’t want a mower to start smoking white smoke because someone overfilled with oil.
  • You don’t want a mower to catch on fire because it seizes because all the oil is so dirty it won’t lubricate.

Why is this tip important?

For all these reasons and more you want a well maintained lawn mower.

Safety Tip #7 – Teach your kids lawn mower safety

Get your kids to come do Step #1 above and go through the job with you.

Show your kids the different types of lawn mowers and the parts that are dangerous.

Tell your kids about the dangers.

Why is this tip important?

Get your kids in the know with lawn mowers early so they have the knowledge to stay safe on their own.

Wrap Up

Safety first.

Don’t risk your health and safety doing something stupid at home.

Follow our 7 simple lawn mowing safety tips and reduce your chance of an accident.

About your guide: Jamey Kramar is a certified Lawn Care Manager (NALP) and a Mechanical Engineer by trade. He has been writing about outdoor power equipment for 11 years and has been quoted in NYTimes, Popular Mechanics, HowStuffWorks, iFixit, Realtor.com, and more. He spends his spare time disassembling things and also building an off-grid cabin at his 200-acre property.