MTD: For a Growing World.

Lawn Mower Safety

Think First Then Reverse


With the spring lawn season here, it is vital people know how to use outdoor power equipment responsibly, especially riding lawn mowers. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) advises consumers to remain alert and aware of where kids are when mowing. “The best safety advice we can give is to simply keep children off of riding mowers and out of the work area while operating a mower,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “You don’t allow a child to get behind the wheel of a car or run around a moving car, so just follow this same principle when it comes to mowers.”


When you back your car out of a parking space or driveway, you automatically look behind you to make sure the path is clear. When you are operating a riding mower, the same rules apply. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) changed the industry safety standard by prohibiting riding mowers manufactured after September 1, 2004 to mow in reverse. However, manufacturers can allow, in certain situations, for people to mow in reverse. While mowing in reverse is not recommended, there may be certain situations where people feel they need to mow in reverse.


To mow responsibly and help keep children safe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends these steps when operating riding mowers:

  • Keep children and pets inside.
  • Never let children ride on the operator’s lap or anywhere on the mower which can cause accidents and injuries. Teach children that riding mowers aren’t toys. 
  • Clear the mowing area of debris before turning on the engine of the mower. Debris could be picked up by the mower, thrown out and injure someone.

Kids and Mowers Don’t Mix


Tragic Accidents Can Happen.
You can SEVERLY INJURE or KILL a child with a riding mower. This can occur by running over a child with the mower – in forward or reverse – with the blades spinning, or when objects are hit and thrown by the spinning blades.


Know Where your Kids Are.
Accidents can happen without warning, particularly if you don’t see a child approaching the mower. Keep children away from the mowing area and under the supervision of a responsible adult.


Never Give Rides.
A child may fall off the mower and into the spinning blades. Giving rides may also cause the child to be attracted to the mower and the child may later approach without being seen.


Use Extreme Caution in Reverse.
Keep alert for anyone who may enter the mowing area. Always look down and behind before and while backing.


Keep Kids Safe.
Read and follow the safety instructions in your owner’s manual. Stop mowing if a child approaches the mowing area. Never let a child play or around a riding mower. Keep the keys to your mower away from children.


RIDING MOWERS ARE TOOLS, NOT TOYS – Please keep your mower keys on the keychain as a reminder of these safety concerns.

Rules of Mowing

Here are important lawn mower safety tips we've compiled in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other safety and health experts.

  • Read Owner's Manual Before Operation.
  • Think first, then reverse. Always check what's behind you to make sure there are no children, pets or objects, before operating a riding mower in reverse.
  • Keep hands and feet away from rotating parts and from under machine.
  • Wear eye protection. Always wear safety glasses or goggles during operation.
  • Clear the mowing area of debris.
  • Do not mow when children and others are around.
  • Never let children ride on the operator's lap or anywhere on the mower.
  • Slow down before turning and use extra caution on slopes. Do not mow slopes greater than 15 degrees. For riding mowers, always mow up and down on a slope, NEVER mow across the slope on a riding mower. Mowing across a slope can cause the tractor to tip over. For walk behind mowers, always mow across a slope, NEVER up and down. Mowing up and down a slope with a walk behind mower can cause the operator to slip and get caught under the mowing blade.
  • Keep safety devices (discharge chute cover, safety interlocks, belt guards, etc.) in place and working. If damaged, replace immediately. Never remove or disable a safety device.
  • Disengage blades when not mowing. Never cross gravel areas with the blades engaged. Avoid discharging material against a wall or obstruction which may cause discharged material to ricochet back toward you.
  • Handle gasoline with care. Use only an approved container. Extinguish cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other sources of ignition. Never fuel the mower indoors. If fuel is spilled on clothing, change clothing immediately. Let engine cool for at least 2 minutes before re-fueling.
  • Know your machine before you mow. Make sure anyone who operates the mower understands and follows the safety and operating instructions in the user manual and on the mower.