The Dangers of Zero-Turn Mowers + Must-Know Safety Tips

operating a riding mower to slopy ground

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Zero-turn mowers are a popular choice for lawn care because they are generally safe to use, even for beginners. However, when not operated with proper caution, they can be hazardous. 

To keep safe from the dangers of zero-turn mowers, our seasoned gardeners, landscapers, and greenskeepers created a list of safety tips for you to follow.

Why are Zero-Turn Mowers Dangerous?

Overturning

Overturning happens when the machine tips over on its side, usually going too fast on uneven ground or taking a sharp turn. Our professional landscapers encountered being ejected from their seats and pinned beneath the machine, causing severe injury. 

Slopes and Hills

There are specific mowers for hills. All zero-turn mowers are not meant to be used on slopes or hills, and this is because the machine can easily overturn if you are not careful. Several of our operators lose control of the mower when it is more than 10 degrees.

operating a troy bilt zero turn mower

Cuts

Cuts and lacerations are the most common type of injury associated with zero-turn mowers. It is usually caused by coming into contact with the sharpened mower blades or being hit by flying debris.

Accidents and Death Rates

A study published in 2018 by Johns Hopkins University found that lawnmower injuries send close to 6,400 people per year into emergency rooms. Most require hospitalization because of lacerations, fractures, and amputations.

Safety Measures For Operating a Zero Turn Mower

#1: Avoid Operating on Hills and Slopes

Our professional landscapers highly recommend using this equipment on yards with slopes less than 15 degrees in inclination. If you must use it on a sloped ground, we recommend you mow up and down and not run it across.

operating a riding mower to slopy ground

#2: Do Not Use on Wet Terrains

Wet grass can cause the wheels to slip and make it difficult to control the machine or worse – make your riding mower stop from operating. In addition, it increases your chance of being ejected from the seat. Find alternative cutting methods for lands near bodies of water or on wet landscapes.

#3: Do Not Accelerate or Change Directions Swiftly

One of the dangers of zero-turn mowers is they can overturn if you take a turn too sharply or change directions too quickly. To avoid this, always slow down when you are about to turn.

Our professionals also recommend not attempting to change directions in the middle of a turn as this can also cause the machine to overturn.

#4: Use Only During the Day

Operate zero-turn mowers during the day so you can see clearly. Reduced visibility that comes with rain or nightfall can increase the chance of an accident. 

mowing grass with bad boy mower

In addition, avoid using the mower when it is windy, as this can also reduce your visibility, especially if uneven terrains are present.

#5: Wear the Seat Belt

Most zero-turn mowers come with a seat belt, and every riding mower manual recommends you use it every time you operate the machine. The seat belt will help keep you in the seat if the machine overturns or hits an uneven spot.

#6: Don Protective Gear and Equipment

Wearing long pants, closed-toe shoes, and gloves can help protect you from cuts and lacerations. In addition, it is recommended to wear safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris [1].

#7: Disengage the Blades When Not in Use

Be sure to disengage the blades when not using the mower. It will prevent injuries if someone accidentally comes into contact with the blades that are still in a cutting rotation

disengaging lawn mower blades

In addition, we recommend you turn off the engine and remove the key before disembarking the machine. 

#8: Do Not Use While Children, Other People, or Pets are in Sight

Consider removing pebbles, stones, and branches lying on the ground. Deadly projectile coming from this debris poses a risk for pets, people, and even the property.

If a person or pet comes outside the house, turn off the engine. Never ride a mower with a child or pet. A small bump could put both your lives in harm’s way. 

Additional Safety Equipment to Install

A rollover protection system (ROPS) is a structure that helps protect the operator in case the mower overturns or the mower shows any sign of lawn mower error or issue . It is a great safety measure, especially if you use the mower on slopes or uneven terrains.

A seat switch is a device that automatically shuts off the engine when the operator gets off the seat. It is a great safety measure to prevent injuries if someone accidentally comes in contact with the blades.

FAQ

Can a zero-turn mower flip over?

Zero-turn mowers can flip over when going too fast, taking a turn too sharp, or changing directions too quickly. To avoid this from happening, always slow down when you approach uneven terrains.

Do zero-turn mowers get stuck easily?

Zero-turn mowers don’t get stuck easily because they have a lower center of gravity, which helps them navigate thick grass and other obstacles.

Conclusion

As elaborated in this guide,  any risks associated with using zero-turn mowers could be minimized when you have all the necessary safety measures in place. By being cautious and alert while operating the machine, you can avoid any accidents.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson