Mowing and Pesticide Safety

Mower Safety

Safety Protection for Operators

• Clothing protects the mower operator from thrown objects and sun exposure. Dress properly for the job, wearing long pants, and close-fitting clothes. Tie back long hair and don’t wear anything that could become entangled in the moving parts of the mower. Always wear sturdy, non-slip soled shoes or boots.

• Safety glasses or goggles protect the eyes from dust, dirt, trash, and small rocks thrown by the blade.

• Earplugs protect hearing from engine and blade noises.

• Do not operate equipment when tired or under the influence of medication. Medication can impair one’s ability to safely use the equipment.

• Protect hands when handling blades and other items which might be sharp, contain nicks, or have metal burrs on the edges.  

• Shut off the engine and remove the battery cable when making any repairs or adjustments.


Before Operating

• Read the operator's manual to find out where controls are located and how they function, as every mower is different. Check for additional safety instructions in the operator’s manual and know how to stop the machine quickly.

• Before you mow, walk the area and pick up objects lying on the lawn. Tools, cans, bottles, wire, rocks, sticks, twigs and limbs can be hazardous to the operator, bystanders, and the mower when mowing begins.

• Check to see if the blades are sharp.

• Check fuel level and engine oil.

• Check mowing height.

• Check for any loose belts or parts.

• Check safety shields. Do not remove or disable guards or other safety devices.


Fueling Safety

• Use proper fuel (gasoline or diesel).

• Do not overfill the tank, leave room for expansion.

• Do not add fuel if the engine is still hot; let it cool down before fueling.

• Never light a match or smoke around gasoline.


Keep People at a Safe Distance

• Keep people at a safe distance from the mower while it is running (a minimum of a 60 foot radius).

• Disengage the blades and shut off the engine when approached by anyone.


Operate Riding Mowers and Tractors Carefully

• Always start the machine from the operator's seat. Never start the machine while standing beside the tractor.

• Riding mowers and tractors are one-person machines. Operate from the driver seat only and never carry passengers. Keep both feet on the machine at all times.

• Take care not to throw a unit in gear accidentally, as it can jerk ahead unexpectedly.

• Drive slowly and cautiously. Watch for holes, drains, roots on the ground, and other low-hanging overhead hazards.

• When operating the machine on uneven ground, use extreme care. Decrease your speed when going down slopes or around sharp corners to prevent tipping. Maintain minimum ground speed and make turns wide and gradual. Avoid sudden starts, stops, or turns.

• Reduce speed and keep the mower in gear on slopes so the engine can act as a brake. Mow across the face of gentle slopes. Mow straight up and down slopes greater than five degrees. Never operate a riding mower on slopes more than fifteen degrees or on wet or damp surfaces. A riding mower may overturn if it begins spinning on the uphill side of a slope. If the uphill mower wheel spins when going across a slope, stop or turn down the slope immediately.

• Disengage the blade before traveling over gravel or paved surfaces.

• Look behind the machine before backing up.

• Avoid mowing in reverse gear.

• Mow counter clockwise in most cases, to discharge grass onto the area already mowed. Never discharge grass in the direction of bystanders.  

• Stop and inspect the blades and shaft if the mower runs into a rock or stump. Damaged blades can cause vibration, which can loosen the blades.  

• Do not remove the grass catcher or unclog the chute while the motor is running.

• Never jump off or dismount from moving equipment. Observe proper shutdown procedures before dismounting.


Shut Down of Machine

• Idle down the engine a few minutes to allow the engine to cool down.

• Wait for all blade movements to stop before leaving the seat.

• Lower raised components, shut off the engine, and remove the key when parking or stepping away from the mower.


Keep Mower/Tractor in Peak Operating Condition

• Inspect the mower periodically for potential hazards such as loose belts, and missing or damaged guards. Examine the mower for accumulations of grass, leaves, or excessive grease to reduce fire hazard.

• Seek the professional advice and/or service of a qualified dealer for problems.

• Conduct routine safety and maintenance inspections.


Pesticide Safety


The do's and don'ts of handling pesticides:

Follow the guidelines below to limit the chances of exposing yourself or anyone else to pesticides.

DO read product labels before making applications. All products have different requirements.

DO ask your supervisor questions about safe product handling.

DO wear gloves and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whenever mixing and loading chemicals; repairing and cleaning equipment; and during pesticide applications (if required).

DO avoid getting pesticides on your skin or in eyes by wearing required PPE.

DO avoid breathing pesticides by wearing a respirator when required.

DO keep a first-aid kit, emergency rinse water and an extra set of clothes in the cab in case of an accidental pesticide exposure.

DO realize that the potential risk of liquid organophosphates and carbamates is higher before they are diluted, so nondiluted chemicals need to be handled with extra caution.

DO follow reentry guidelines and post proper signage warning others as required.

DON'T eat, drink, chew gum, smoke or use the bathroom after working with pesticides without washing your hands first.

DON'T wear clothing that has been exposed to chemicals into the home where you will come into contact with other people. Chemicals may rub off clothing onto household items, which could increase the risk of accidental exposure.

DON'T think that you know all there is to know about handling pesticides. There is always more to learn about safety.

How do I minimize pesticide exposure?

It is important to prevent overexposure to chemicals. This does not mean that chemicals should not be used, only that they should be used with caution. The first step to safe use is to be aware of the hazards and the precautions necessary to avoid contact. This means using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) indicated on the product label and being familiar with first aid measures if unintended exposure does occur.

What do I do if I am exposed?

If a pesticide comes in contact with your skin, take the following actions immediately:

  • Remove contaminated clothes.
  • Put contaminated clothes in sealable clothing bag.
  • Rinse body with emergency water.
  • Lather with soap.
  • Rinse.
  • Call doctor if feeling sick.
  • Wash contaminated clothes separately.
Remember to consult product label for specific emergency procedures.

How can I tell if I have been overexposed?

Below are symptoms that can indicate you have been overexposed to organophosphate or carbamate pesticides.


  • Headaches, dizziness, confusion and/or weakness.
  • Excessive sweating, chills, salivation and/or thirst.
  • Chest pain, difficulty breathing, muscle cramps or tremors.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or stomach cramps.
  • Pinpoint pupils (black portion of the eye shrinks and will not change size).
If you experience any of these symptoms during or after pesticide application, leave the application area, wash thoroughly and follow emergency guidelines on the product label. Call the emergency numbers provided and do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

Why should I care about using chemicals safely?


Your health and the well-being of those around you are definitely worth a commitment to safety.