OSHA issued a notice Sept. 29 urging employers in the U.S. Midwest to emphasize lawn worker safety after two lawn mower roll-over deaths occurred in Nebraska and Missouri in September 2022.
Since fall 2019, 35 workers have died in the U.S. in lawn mower roll-over incidents, and OSHA issued its notice in an effort to alert employers to train lawn workers on the hazards they face and how to avoid them.
Riding mowers can overturn for a variety of reasons such as speed, slope of area being mowed, poor terrain conditions, wet surfaces and operating too closely to ponds and waterways. Roll-over prevention devices, used in conjunction with seatbelts, can help riders avoid tragedy if installed.
‘Some workers only mow as needed, are less familiar with risks’
“Employers are responsible for training workers to recognize and avoid hazards, especially when it comes to mowing grass on slopes and in poor terrain,” OSHA Regional Administrator Billie Kizer said.
“Lawn mower injuries happen at many types of work sites – from office parks to golf courses and from highway medians to public parks – and, at times, workers are assigned lawn maintenance tasks only as needed, which can put workers less familiar with operating these machines safely at risk,” Kizer added.
The two most recent fatalities involved:
- a worker doing lawn maintenance in Boys Town, Nebraska, Sept. 9, 2022, who died after a riding mower toppled over and pinned him underwater in a reservoir, and
- a mower that overturned Sept. 13, 2022, crushing a worker in Butterfield, Missouri.
OSHA safety guidance for riding mowers can be found here.