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Safe Working With Mowers

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 28 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Mower Accidents Blockage Safety

Over a recent ten-year period, there were 30 serious reported accidents involving agricultural mowers. Two of the accidents were fatal.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also believes there were many more than 30 incidents during this time. Workers simply failed to notify them.

There are two types of agricultural mower referred to here: flail and rotary. These may be tractor-mounted or towed.

Risk Assessment

As with any piece of agricultural machinery, an employer must conduct a Risk Assessment of a mower. This means identifying potential hazards of the mower and its operation. The aim is to keep the risk of injury to a minimum.

Employers should also ensure any user of a mower follows certain principles of good practice.

Training

To help with these principles, operators should have appropriate training. The training must show the correct and safe use of a mower. Machinery makers and dealers, agricultural colleges and award schemes offer training programmes.

A useful training backup is to supply operators with a mower’s instruction manual. This way, an operator can understand precisely how a mower works. A manual also has safety advice. This usually includes details of how to remove any blockages that stop a mower’s efficient use.

Debris

One of the main risks of using a mower is the ejection of debris. This can fly out and strike a nearby person.

A mower should have a protective skirt to help prevent this. But if the ground is bumpy, debris such as stones can still emerge at speed.

A mower also ejects more than ground debris. A badly maintained machine may throw out flails, blades or other parts. These can cause Serious Injury.

Blockages

Blockages can be common. It’s vital, though, never to remove a blockage while the mower’s blades are moving. This warning may seem obvious; but accidents have occurred as a result of workers ignoring it.

Crushing and Overturning

Another major incident is crushing. Mowers sometimes fall on workers who are replacing the blades. Mowers also overturn on slopes, and can pin a worker in a fallen tractor.

Basic Precautions

There are basic precautions an operator should always take.
  • First, ensure all guards fit properly. Among such guards is the protective skirt. The guards on an old mower may well slip or fall off completely. Don’t use the mower until the guards and skirt are in place.
  • Never leave the tractor until the engine is off. Also disengage the controls. The temptation to keep a tractor running while checking a problem can lead to injury.
  • Before removing a blockage or performing a repair, support the mower properly. Make sure the support is sufficient to bear the mower’s weight.
  • Be cautious when mowing on a slope. The most dangerous point comes as an operator turns a tractor on inclined or uneven ground.
  • Use protective gloves for blade changing and maintenance.
  • Don’t work with a mower in the presence of bystanders. Debris may shoot out from the mower and cause serious harm.
  • Don’t approach a mower until the blades have stopped.

Finally, maintain the mower regularly, and use only approved replacement parts.

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