Even though millions of homeowners routinely use power lawn mowers every day without mishap, there is still a fairly constant parade of people into hospital emergency rooms with injuries and released. However, emergency surgery is sometimes required to treat severe injuries resulting from hand or foot contact with the rotating blade; toe amputations are not uncommon with homeowners cutting grass.

Every couple of years an average of 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for walk-behind power mower injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The federal safety standard for power mowers, developed by CPSC, took effect June 30, 1982. All walk behind power rotary lawn mowers manufactured since then must meet the mandatory safety requirements designed to reduce hand and foot contact with the moving blade.


If you purchase a new walk-behind rotary lawn mower the machine must meet the federal standard, and must be certified as complying with the regulation include:

The blade brake control: On all new mowers, an automatic brake stops the blade when the operator releases his/her grip on the handle mounted control bar. This feature prevents the rotary blade from operating unless the operator actuates the control. It also requires the operator to maintain continuous contact with the control to keep the blade operating, and stops the blade completely within three seconds when the operator releases the control. If the mower only has a manual start, the control must stop the blade without shutting down the engine, unless the manual starting control is located within 24 inches from the top of the handle, or the mower has a 360 degree foot shield. For user protection, the mower must also have a secondary control which must be activated before the mower can be operated.

Foot shield: The area at the rear of the mower that might be reached by the foot when using the mower is subjected to a probing test using a foot like probe. With the mower wheels on the ground, this area is probed to assure that neither the foot probe nor any part of the mower (such as a trailing shield) will enter the path of the blade. Shields at this rear area are also subjected to a strength test and an obstruction test. Shields at the rear of the mower which must be moved to attach the grass catcher or other equipment are also examined. These shields must either close automatically or prevent operation of the mower (when open) unless the grass catcher is present.

Labels: New mowers must have a warning label near the discharging chute cautioning users to keep hands and feet away from the chute. The mower must also have a certification label. with the inscription. “Meets CPSC blade safety requirements.”

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