Outdoor Power Equipment, Small Engine, Lawn Mower Repairs, Troubleshooting and Safety

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Even though millions of homeowners routinely use power lawnmowers every year without mishap, there is still a fairly constant parade of people into hospital emergency rooms with injuries from walk-behind powermowers. Most often, patients are treated for minor injuries and released. However, emergency surgery is sometimes required to treat severe injuries resulting from hand or foot contact with the rotating blade; toe amputations are not uncommon with homeowners cutting grass. In 1986, some 37,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for mower injuries, according to recent estimates by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ever since the Commission's founding in 1973, walk-behind power rotary lawnmowers have been the subject of ongoing research by engineering, human factors, economists and epidemiological personnel. Their efforts were instrumental in developing the federal safety standard for power mowers which took effect June 30, 1982. All walk behind power rotary lawnmowers manufactured since then must meet new safety requirements designed to reduce hand and foot contact with the moving blade.

For example, with most rotary mowers built before June 1982, the blade rotated as long as the engine was operating. Problems arose when wet grass clippings jammed the discharge chute. In these situations, the owner's manual emphasized that the engine should be shut down first, and that the blade should be allowed to come to a complete stop before the user reached into the discharge chute to remove the clippings.

To avoid having to restart the engine, users frequently allowed the motor to operate while they tried to remove the clippings with their hand. Many homeowners had fingers amputated by the rotating blade; others were more fortunate and only sustained severe lacerations.

THE CPSC STANDARD


If you purchase a new walk-behind rotary lawnmower, the machine must meet the June 30, 1982 federal standard, and must be certified as complying with the regulation. Some of the safety features of the regulation include:

MEETS CPSC BLADE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS


SELECTING A MOWER

If you are shopping for a walk-behind rotary lawnmower, consider the following factors which may affect mowing operations:

USING THE WALK-BEHIND ROTARY MOWER

Man pushing lawnmower over a cord

CPSC offers these suggestions for the safe use of rotary lawnmowers:

OLDER WALK-BEHIND ROTARY MOWERS

If you cut grass with a pre-standard rotary mower, use extreme caution. Remember that the machine does not have the safety features of the new equipment, and that the problems that prompted the federal standard in the first place will still be found on your machine. For example,