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Ohio State University Extension


Power Lawn Mowers

Agricultural Tailgate Safety Training for Operators and Supervisors
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: To be able to operate power lawn mowers according to safety guidelines.

Trainer’s Note

Safe lawn mowing practices can save lives. Point out the safety devices on the mower. Discuss the importance of leaving shields and stops in place. Demonstrate PPE and lawn mower maintenance. Discuss various lawn mowing accidents and brainstorm about how these incidents could have been prevented. Review the true or false quiz.


A power lawn mower can be dangerous and cause serious injuries. A rotary mower blade whirls at 2,000 or 4,000 revolutions per minute or at 100–200 miles per hour. For safety reasons, it is important to know how to quickly disengage the clutch and stop the engine.

silhouette of a riding mower
Silhouette of a push-mower

Selecting a Mower

  • Small walk-behind mowers
  • Riding mowers
  • Commercial-style walk-behind mowers

To Operate a Power Lawn Mower, Follow These Tips:

  • Begin by reading the operator’s manual.
  • Before mowing remove debris from lawn.
  • Wear protective, close-fitting clothing.
  • Start mower from a firm stance with feet in a safe position.
  • Take self-propelled mowers out of gear before starting.
  • Keep both feet on the footrests of a riding mower.
  • Keep all guards and safety shields in place.
  • Never fill the gasoline tank on the mower if the engine is hot.
  • Do not smoke when working with fuel sources.
  • Store gasoline in an approved, properly labeled container.
  • Turn off the engine before dismounting, removing a foreign object, or performing maintenance.
  • Disconnect the spark or electric plug before repairing mower.
  • Never use an electric mower on wet grass.
  • Provide routine maintenance.
  • No extra riders on self-propelled mowers (refer to training module, “No Riders on Farm and Lawn Equipment”).

Be Aware of Mowing Hazards

  • A mower can tip over easily.
  • Push the mower away from the body during a fall.
  • Never leave a running mower unattended.
  • Take rest periods as needed (refer to training module, “Heat Stress”).
  • Foreign objects can fly from the mower, so make sure the mowing area is clear of people, animals, litter, and debris.
  • Be aware of power take-offs, belts, and pulleys to avoid entanglement.

Inspection and Maintenance

Follow these common maintenance and inspection guidelines: 

  • Review the operator’s manual for recommended service.
  • Maintain proper oil levels and lubrication of moving parts.
  • Maintain cutting edges on the blades.
  • Remove excess grass clippings from the mowing deck.
  • Inspect and adjust all deflector guards and safety features. Replace, if necessary.
  • Drain the fuel tank in a safe area and run the engine on idle until it stops, before storing the equipment for extended periods. 

Proper Mowing Directions

  • When mowing on a slope with a riding mower, you should mow down the slope.
  • When mowing on a slope with a push mower, you should mow across the slope.

Proper Dress for Mowing 

  • Wear sturdy leather shoes.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles.
  • Wear ear protection.
  • Wear leather gloves.

Review the Following Points

  • Wear protective, snug clothing when mowing.
  • Keep guards and safety shields in place.
  • Turn off the mower before dismounting or removing any foreign objects.
  • Know how to disengage the clutch and stop the engine. 
  • A rotary blade whirls between 2,000 and 4,000 revolutions per minute, at speeds between 100–200 miles per hour.
  • Never leave a running mower unattended.

About These Modules

The Ag Tailgate Training Series was developed by members of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Revised by Dee Jepsen, State Agricultural Safety Leader, with editing assistance by Lisa Pfeifer and Cody McClain.

True or False Answer Key

  1. T
  2. T
  3. F
  4. T
  5. T

Quiz: Power Lawn Mowers



True or False?    

1. An improperly used power lawn mower can cause serious injuries.   T F
2. The speed of a rotary mower blade is 100–200 miles per hour. T F
3. Do not turn off a lawn mower to remove foreign objects.  T F
4. Carefully inspect the lawn for debris, and remove it before mowing.  T F
5. Keep lawn mower guards and shields in place at all times.   T F








Originally posted Jun 17, 2019.