Warmer Weather Brings Increase in Lawn Mower Accidents

A woman in Osage County in northeast Oklahoma was killed earlier this week when her riding lawnmower rolled over and pinned her beneath the machine. Her death illustrates just how dangerous one of the most common yard maintenance tasks can be. As spring and summer bring warmer weather and the grass begins to grow, yard work becomes more common. Every day, Oklahoma neighborhoods are filled with the sounds of buzzing lawn mowers. Unfortunately, this common task of mowing the lawn can cause significant injury or death for tens of thousands of people across the nation. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 70,000 people suffer serious injury or death in a lawn mower accident each year. In 2010, more than 250,000 people received medical treatment for lawn mower related injuries. Of that number, more than 17,000 were children. In fact, approximately 800 children suffer amputation in a lawn mower accident each year, making mowers the leading cause of childhood amputation. Nearly 100 people are killed in mower accidents each year, with the majority of those deaths attributed to cardiac arrest. Lawn mower injuries include:

  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Burns
  • Eye injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Dislocations
  • Internal injuries from being pinned beneath a mower
  • Heart attack
  • Heat stroke and overexertion
  • Severed fingers and/or toes
  • Limb amputation
According to Consumer Watch, most mower accidents involve children under the age of 15 and adults over the age of 60. The most common lawn mower-related injuries are those resulting from a victim being struck by debris and projectiles hurled from the mower's spinning blades. However, rollover and run-0ver accidents cause the most catastrophic injuries. Lawn mower accidents are typically the result of negligence. Poorly designed riding mowers may be prone to rollover; inadequate maintenance can cause a mower to malfunction; lack of safety precautions can lead to eye injury, falls, or running over a person. A safety task force comprised of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following lawn mower safety tips to avoid injury:
  • Only use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade from moving if the handle is let go.
  • Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower, and age 16 to operate a driving lawn mower.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower or is in the vicinity to wear polycarbonate protective eyewear at all times.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, inspecting or repairing lawn mower equipment or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
  • Use a stick or broom handle (not your hands or feet) to remove debris in lawn mowers.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers and keep children out of the yard while mowing.
  • Drive up and down slopes, not across to prevent mower rollover.
  • Keep lawn mowers in good working order. When using a lawn mower for the first time in a season, have it serviced to ensure that it is working correctly.
The following video demonstrates people who clearly did not adhere to best safety practices for lawn mower use: Unsafe working conditions, poor workplace safety policies, malfunctioning or poorly designed lawn mowers, and personal negligence can all contribute to dangerous lawn mower accidents. If you have been injured in a mower accident and you believe someone else had culpability in your injury, contact an Oklahoma injury lawyer for an evaluation of your claim.