Community Issues

Investigation: Lack of Safety Features Leads to Mower Injuries

Consumer safety experts say small children are at risk of gruesome backover injuries.

Consumer safety experts say that hundreds of gruesome childhood injuries and deaths could be avoided, if lawn mower manufacturers updated and enhanced safety features for riding mowers.

According to FairWarning, which reports on public health and consumer safety issues, human error is an obvious factor in many mower accidents involving small children, but another is the choice by some mower manufacturers to design machine that can mow in reverse . FairWarning says their investigation uncovered mounting evidence that this jeopardizes small children.

FairWarning's investigation found 133 cases of young children being injured by backovers of riding mowers since 2004. A study published in 2017 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine estimated there were 1,641 backover injuries in the United States from 1990 to 2014. Seventy percent of the victims were under the age of 5. Injuries included amputated fingers, toes, and limbs, as well as mangled internal organs. At least eight of the victims were killed.

The mower industry has adopted voluntary safety feature standards for riding mowers, which stops the blades from spinning when the mower is in reverse. However, some manufacturers include a manual override for the safety feature.

"That's an extremely alarming number," Elliot Kaye of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, one of the five commissioners who set policies and rules, told Fair Warning. Kaye says his Commission should take a close look at the issue. However, the investigation found that the CPSC does not include this issue on its list of priorities for the 2019 fiscal year . You can click here for more information on how to contact the CPSC .

If you use a riding mower, make sure to keep children out of the area and always check behind you when operating in reverse.

If you use a riding mower, there are several safety tips to keep in mind. First of all, you should ALWAYS keep any children out of the mowing area at all times. Secondly, refrain from using the override button or switch if you are operating the mower in reverse. And if you find yourself in a position where you must mow in reverse, make sure you first look behind you and make sure the area behind you is clear.

For more safety information, and to read the entire investigation, you can click here .

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