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Keep Your Hands Safe: Follow Lawnmower Safety Tips


Each year, more than 74,000 small children, adolescents and adults are injured by rotary, hand and riding power mowers due to the improper handling of lawnmowers. It is the purpose of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand to provide you with patient information to help you avoid these injuries.

Kinetics of Rotary Power Lawnmowers

Kinetic (motion) energy imparted by the standard blade is comparable to the energy generated by dropping a 21-pound weight from a height of 100 feet or equal to three times the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum pistol. Blade speed can eject a piece of wire or object up to 100 miles per hour.

Injury Profile

Adults 25-64 years
Children under age five
22% involve wrist, hand or finger
14% involve foot, ankle or toes
25% of all hand and foot injuries result in amputation
Deaths occurred in children under six years of age

Common Injury Patterns

Direct contact with rotating or jammed blade
Serious avulsion (tearing/separating) injuries to soft tissue and bones
Gross contamination from contact with grass and soil harboring pathogens
Injuries requiring multiple staged surgeries to cleanse wounds and provide soft tissue coverage (to regenerate healthy tissue/skin)

Common Weather Conditions

Wet grass
Damp ground

Other Causes of Injury

Passengers (adult/child) on riding mowers or in cart towed behind mower
Mower being pulled backward
Sloping lawn mowed by power mower up and down slope, instead of across
Sloping lawn mowed by riding mower across slope, instead of up and down
Wearing sandals or open-toed shoes
Operator attempts to unclog blades with hand or foot


Lawnmowers are safe if used properly.

Remember the following:

  • Read your mower's instruction manual prior to use. DO NOT REMOVE safety devices or guards on switches.
  • NEVER insert hands or feet into the mower to remove grass or debris. Even with the motor turned off the blade remains engaged.
  • ALWAYS use a stick or broom handle to remove any obstruction.
  • NEVER cut grass when it is wet or when the ground is damp.
  • NEVER allow a child to operate the mower at any time or be in the area to be mowed.
  • NEVER allow passengers, other than the operator, on riding mowers.
  • Keep your mower in good working order with sharp blades.
  • DO NOT DRINK before or while using your lawnmower.
  • Wear protective boots, goggles, gloves and long pants. Do not operate the lawnmower while barefoot.
  • Be cautious when mowing hills or slopes.


© 2006 American Society for Surgery of the Hand

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Linden Oaks Office Park
360 Linden Oaks, Suite 310
Rochester, NY 14625

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Parnall Office Building
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Rochester, NY 14626
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