When summer arrives, college and school teens get involved in all kinds of summer jobs including, lawn mowing and landscaping. While it is a good thing for teens to take ups such jobs, they also need to be aware of the safety and proper use of heavy equipment. There have been several incidents of injuries related to lawn mowing jobs annually, which can be averted, if the safety rules and guidelines stipulated by OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Department of Labor are adhered to.
The unfortunate death of teen laborer in Minnesota back in 1992 due to injuries, while working on a skid steer loader stresses the need for better safety for teen workers. While landscaping companies have safety rules regarding machine operation, they do not have any regarding the laborers employed for landscaping.
The use of skid loaders, mowers, trucks, chippers and tractors can be hazardous, if not used properly. From minor cuts and punctures to major amputation and death, the consequences can be highly damaging. The Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign by OSHA is aimed at creating awareness about workplace hazards and providing a solution for such hazards, so young people are safe when they take up landscaping jobs.
Some of the rules include
- Teen workers of ages 14 and 15 are prohibited from operating or driving lawn mowers, weed cutters and lawn trimmers
- Young workers under age 18 are prohibited from operation of power driven trucks like forklifts
- Prohibition of use of band or circular saws and the guillotine shears
- Ban on being a helper outside a motor truck or driving it
- Teens should not operate or use equipment they are not trained for
- Appropriate safety gear including earplugs, earmuffs, safety googles, shoes and clothing should be used
- Maintenance should not be performed on a vehicle that is not shut down properly
Maintenance of lawn mowers
While most lawn mowers come with the appropriate operating and safety instructions, if the maintenance is not done periodically, the efficiency is compromised, and accidents and injuries result. Although lawn mowers are used in a majority of households, when these are, neglected or not handled properly severe injuries from the lawn movers can occur with both the large tractor mowers and the smaller hand driven lawn mowers.
Adherence to safety rules
While operating a lawn mower, the following safety rules should be adhered to
- Avoid refueling when the engine is hot. Gas tank should be filled prior to starting the mowing operation
- Eyes should be protected with shatter resistant or safety glasses and legs by wearing closed shoes and long pants
- Children and pets should not be present while mowing.
- Rocks or sticks which fly and cause injury should be cleared before starting the mowing
- Lawn mower should be pushed and never pulled
- The engine should be turned off when you move it from one type of surface to a different one.
- The mower should be turned off when it is left unattended or if the mower is clogged
The lawn mowers should be inspected periodically for loose bolts and nuts, and if any are loose should be tightened. The fitting of fuel lines should be checked regularly and the blades should be checked for nicks, imbalance and dullness and sharpened annually. The lawn mowers should be serviced regularly by an authorized lawn mower service.