OUTDOOR LAWN TOOL SAFETY 
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With the end of winter and rapid onset of spring we will be spending more time outdoors, working in our yards and working around the outside of the house. Each year people are injured while performing these routine tasks around the house.

·         In 2003 87,000 people made hospital visits because of lawn mower mishaps.

·         An additional 76,000 were treated for injuries associated with other lawn and garden equipment.

·         Each year 220,000 people visit emergency rooms because of ladder accidents.

Injuries involving lawnmowers and garden tools can range from cuts and lacerations to the amputation of body parts. Electrical appliances such as edgers, weed whips and blowers can cause electrical shocks. We would like to recommend that you follow these precautions when working in your yard and around the house.

 

General

  • Read the owner's manual thoroughly. Learn the controls well enough to act instantly in an emergency and to stop the machine quickly. Pay attention to the warnings provided.

  • Store gasoline in a UL Listed safety container to keep fumes from escaping and causing potential fire situation. Fill the equipment outside, away from possible ignition sources and only when the equipment is cold.

  • Never operate gas powered equipment where carbon monoxide can collect, such as in a closed garage, storage shed or basement.

  • Never turn off or remove or alter the operation of safety guards, automatic shutoffs or other safety features.

  • Always look for the UL Mark before purchasing a garden tool/appliance or any other electrical product. The UL Mark on a product means that representative samples of that product have been tested to stringent safety standards with regard to fire, electric shock and related hazards.

  • Wear proper attire that does not hang or is loose fitting. Never work barefoot in sandals or canvas shoes. Make sure your shoes provide good traction to reduce slipping and have sturdy soles to resist punctures.

  • Keep clothing, hands and feet away from cutting blades and moving parts at all times. Never wear jewelry when working with tools.

  • Always wear safety glasses. 

 

 

Lawn Mowers

  • Always rake before cutting grass to remove any large rocks, branches or other potential hazards.

  • Never mow on wet grass, which could cause you to slip and lose control.

  • If using an electric mower, reduce the risk of cutting the cord while you're mowing. Start mowing in the area nearest the electrical outlet, then mow away from the outlet so the power cord stay behind you.

  • Never reach under the mower for any reason while the mower is in operation and make all adjustments with the motor off.

  • Never leave a lawn mower "ON" while unattended. Curious children, eager to help, may get seriously injured.

 

 

Lawn and Garden Tools

  • Inspect tools for frayed power cords and cracked or broken casings. If the product is damaged, DO NOT use it or attempt to repair it yourself. Return the product or have a qualified repair shop examine it.

  • Use only properly rated outdoor extension cords with outdoor electrical tools.

  • Check the switch on a power tool or garden appliance to make sure it's "OFF" before you plug it in.

  • Unplug and all portable electrically operated power tools when not in use. These tools contain electricity even when turned "OFF" but still plugged in. Store tools out of children's reach.

  • Use and store power tools and garden appliances away from water sources to avoid electric shock. Never use tools in the rain.

  • Have a qualified electrician install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles in all outdoor outlets. After installation, test your GFCIs monthly.

 

 

Extension Cords

Extension cords are labeled with information as to the use, size and wattage rating of the cord. Cords are offered in many lengths and are marked with a size or "gauge." The larger the wire, the smaller the AWG number for example, a 12-gauge wire would be larger and can power larger wattage appliances than a 14-gauge wire.

Before deciding which extension cord to use, read the manufacturer's instructions for the power tools you will be using. These booklets contain important information about your tools, provide helpful tips on their use and care and indicate whether the tools are suitable for use outdoors.

The first step in determining which extension cord you need is to decide whether you are using the appliance indoors or outdoors. Acceptable extension cords for use outdoors are clearly marked "Suitable for Use with Outdoor Appliances." Never use an indoor extension cord outdoors; it could result in an electric shock or fire hazard.

To determine what size or gauge cord you need, you have to determine how long you need the cord to be. A cord, based on its gauge, can power an appliance of certain wattage only at specific distances. As the cord gets longer, the current carrying capacity of the cord gets lower.

All appliances indicate how much wattage is consumed when operated. This information can be found on the appliance itself and often within the instruction manual that accompanies the product. Some appliances indicate power usage in amps, rather than watts. To convert this to watts multiply the amps times the voltage.

If you are going to use the extension cord with two or more appliances, you must add together the wattage rating for all appliances used on the cord. The total of those wattage ratings will help you determine which gauge size you will need.

Follow these additional safety tips when using extension cords with power tools and garden appliances.

  • Store all cords indoors when not in use. Outdoor conditions can deteriorate a cord over time.

  • Never keep an extension cord plugged in when not in use. The cord will still conduct electricity until it is unplugged from the outlet.

  • Most newer, indoor cords with more than one outlet have covers for the unused openings - use them. Children and pets face serious injury if they chew on unused outlets or stick sharp metal objects into the openings.

  • Do not use extension cords that are cut or damaged. Touching even a single, exposed strand of wire can give you an electric shock or burn.

  • Never file or cut the plug blades or grounding pin of an extension cord or appliance to plug it into an old outlet. As a safety feature, extension cords and most appliances have polarized plugs (one blade wider than the other). These special plugs are designed to prevent electric shock by properly aligning circuit conductors. If a plug does not fit, have a qualified electrician install a new outlet.

Ladders

The first "step" to using any ladder safely is to read the instructions included in the manufacturer's use and care booklet. Instructions contain guidelines that can help consumers use ladders more safely and effectively and also contain important guidelines for weight and height limits. Be sure to select the right ladder for the job.

Setting up the ladder correctly will help prevent falls. When planting the base of any ladder, place all feet on a firm, level surface, not on rocks or boards. Spreaders, the devices that hold the front and back sections of a stepladder in an open position, should be completely open and locked before any weight is placed on the ladder. If using an extension ladder, don't place the ladder at too extreme an angle. Remember, different ladders have different safety considerations.

Follow these precautions to help prevent ladder accidents:

  • Choose the proper ladder for the intended task.

  • Always inspect the ladder before stepping on the first rung. Make sure the ladder has been well maintained, that the rungs are clean and all parts are intact.

  • Never climb on a slippery or shaky ladder.

  • Always use a ladder that is long enough for the task at hand. A great number of ladder accidents are the result of using a ladder that is too short.

  • Don't carry equipment while climbing a ladder. Invest in a tool belt or have someone hand the equipment to you.

  • Face the ladder when climbing up and down; keep your body centered between both side rails.

  • While up on the ladder, don't overextend your reach. Make sure you keep your weight evenly distributed.

  • Never move a ladder while standing on it. Always make sure people and equipment are off the ladder before moving or closing it.

  • Never stand on a ladder's bucket shelf. Read and follow the warning stickers for highest standing levels.