Make your mowing habits a cut above

Avoiding tractor and mower rollovers.

  • Published: Friday, Sept. 9, 2022

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mowing is a leading cause of farm tractor rollover accidents, which, in turn, are a leading cause of farm fatalities. Smaller utility or garden-type tractors equipped with deck or belly mowers are also susceptible to rollovers and tip overs on hilly terrain.

A dreaded chore for some, a joy for others, mowing is such a routine activity that people often let their guard down when it comes to safety, says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension health and safety specialist.

National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 18-24, is observed by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety to remind the agricultural community and public of ways to safeguard families and farms.

Funkenbusch offers these tips to avoid rollover accidents while mowing:

• Don’t mow on side hills or slopes steeper than the recommended grades for your equipment. For most tractors and mowers, this is 15 degrees. Review owners manuals before mowing to determine what limits apply to safe operation on sloping ground.

• Use care when mowing along or near embankments or road shoulders. One side of the tractor or mower is lower. This decreases stability and increases the risk of rolling over. A mower or tractor wheel could suddenly drop off, causing the equipment to tip over.

• Avoid muddy or wet areas near ponds, creeks and waterways. The surrounding 6-10 feet of turf may be waterlogged, causing the tractor or mower to slip and slide.

• Mow up and down slopes rather than across to reduce the risk of rollover.

• Steer clear of mowing wet grass on slopes to avoid losing traction.

• Go slowly.

• If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, don’t mow.

General rules:

• Wear a seat belt, sturdy shoes, hearing protection and protective eyewear.

• Don’t encourage young riders. They can fall off and quickly be run over by the mower.

• Keep spectators away, especially young children. The mower can throw debris and rocks. Playing children may not notice when the operator puts the mower in reverse.

• Check the area for hazards each time you mow.

• Watch for holes and ruts. Uneven terrain can cause the mower to overturn.

• Don’t touch blades or mufflers.

• Before letting young or inexperienced operators mow, train them and provide supervision.

More information:

Operating a Lawn Mower (Cultivate Safety)

Safe Operation of Tractors While Mowing Along Roadways (Ohio State University Extension)

National Farm Safety and Health Week stories from MU Extension

Writer: Linda Geist

Media Contact

Karen Funkenbusch
573/884-1268

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