Spring is here, and temperatures are warming up. Warmer temperatures means that it’s also time for yard work. With many people using their lawn mowers, power edgers, string trimmers this time of year, proper equipment maintenance and safety are two very important topics. While these action items should be viewed as a year-round priority, this is the time of year to pay special attention to the safe operation of your lawn care equipment.
In order to ensure that humans and pets do not sustain injury and personal property is not damaged, those who operate outdoor power equipment must understand safety procedures, and ensure that the safety features of a given machine are intact and functioning properly. Equipment operators must also be aware of their surroundings and set expectations for safety from those nearby or who may also operate the equipment.
To help you facilitate a safe working environment all season long, here is a list of tips for safe operation of your outdoor power equipment:
- 1Select the right tool for the job
You would not attempt to trim your hedges with a push mower, right? Use the same mental attitude when it comes to selecting equipment for tasks.
The proper tool will help you get the job done safely and efficiently. Make sure that you not only consider the tool’s power and size as it relates to the
job/chore, but also that the equipment is the right size for the operator. If a trimmer is too long, bulky and/or unbalanced, not only is this unsafe, but using
the wrong equipment could also create unsatisfactory results.
- 2Responsible and Properly Trained Operators only
Only allow adults who are responsible AND properly trained to use the equipment. Ensure that whomever will operate a given piece of equipment possesses a full understanding of the equipment’s safe operation. Never let children operate outdoor power equipment, as they most likely do not have the proper amount of training and ability to maintain safety in and around the area of work.
Be sure anyone who is to operate a piece of equipment has read and fully understands the operation of the equipment. This includes a full understanding of the operational controls, how to stop and shut down the equipment quickly, how the safety features and devices work, and that those features and devices are maintained and are in proper working order. NEVER disable safety devices, and DO NOT operate equipment that has had safety features and/or devices disabled, modified or removed.
- 3Know your terrain and clear the work area prior to operating power equipment
Ensure that you know the terrain you will be mowing. Uneven terrain, drop offs and even slight inclines could contribute to an overturned mower. This is especially important if you use ride on machines such as lawn tractors, zero turn mowers, etc. These machines are very heavy and hold the potential to cause serious injury and death. As a rule of thumb; if it seems possibly unsafe, get off your riding mower, and use a push mower.
Ensure that you are aware of the location of obstacles such as water meter covers, stumps, large rocks, and personal property such as automobiles prior to starting the work. Also ensure that the work area is cleared of by-standers, coworkers, pets, etc to avoid unnecessarily injury or damage. Also, be sure to ‘walk’ the intended area you plan to work in to ensure there are no items that could be struck by the equipment, potentially turning debris into projectiles which can cause severe injury and/or property damage.
- 4Perform routine/regular equipment inspections
Check parts that are missing, damaged, loose and need replacing. Just like your car or truck, regular oil changes and replacing filters (air, fuel and oil) is a must. Performing these easy tasks regularly will go far in assuring that your equipment will perform reliably and safely every time.
- 5Remember, and follow safe fueling procedures
Employ safe fueling procedures to avoid injury or damage from fire/explosion. Only refill the fuel tank when the machine’s engine has cooled. Only dispense fuel into approved containers, and follow all safe procedures when pumping fuel. Never light a match/lighter nor smoke when around fuel.
- 6LOOK BEFORE YOU PUMP!
Never use any gasoline with more than 10% ethanol content (E10) in your outdoor power equipment. Fuels with higher percentage of ethanol (such as E15 and E85) can and does cause damage to fuel systems, not to mention it is actually illegal to use fuels with more than 10% ethanol content in your outdoor power equipment.
- 7A final tip about today’s fuel
Any fuel left in your tank for longer than 30 days, can and will stale and deteriorate, which will most likely cause issues with your equipment starting and running reliably. Ethanol can cause damage to fuel systems and dry out soft fuel system parts such as hoses, primer bulbs, and carburetor diaphragms.
For more information and tips to help you understand today’s gasoline, safe fueling and more, visit www.LookBeforeYouPump.com