Second Lt. Stephen Hunter is no longer a “social” climber. He learned his lesson after getting drunk, falling from a tree and breaking 25 bones, including 20 in his back. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sarayuth Pinthong/ Released)

Yard Work Safety

Yard work tips

  • Warm up your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes with light exercises or stretching.
  • Dress properly- wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, work gloves and sturdy comfortable shoes.
  • Keep children and pets away from the area when you are doing yard work.
  • Have the right tools for the job you are doing.
  • Rakes should be comfortable and the right size for your height and strength.
  • Change your position often when doing repetitive motions like raking to help prevent muscle pains and cramps.
  • Watch for low branches, large rocks and tree stumps.
  • Be aware of uneven ground surfaces and slopes.
  • Pick up leaves by bending from the knees, not the waist.
  • Do not overfill leaf bags or carry them over your shoulder.
  • When weeding, a half kneeling position is safer than bending forward.
  • Wet leaves are very slippery. Make sure to wear boots or shoes with soles that are slip resistant.
  • Make certain ladders are firmly on the ground before climbing and never climb to the top.
  • Hold the pruning shears close to your body.

Lawn Mower Safety

  • Fill the fuel tank before starting the engine and never add fuel when the engine is running or hot.
  • Check the lawn for debris (twigs, rocks and other objects) before mowing the lawn. Objects struck by the mower blade may be thrown out from under the mower, resulting in severe injury or even death.
  • Don't cut the grass when it's wet. Wet clippings may clog the discharge chute and could jam the rotary blade and shut down the engine. When you need to remove clippings from the chute, stop the rotary blade first.
  • Wear sturdy shoes with sure-grip soles when using the mower, never sneakers, sandals or with bare feet. Slacks rather than shorts offer better protection for the legs.
  • Never allow young children to operate a power lawn mower and don't let them on or near the lawn when the rotary mower is in use.
  • Push the mower forward, never pull it backward.
  • If the lawn slopes, mow across the slope with the walk-behind rotary mower. With a riding mower, drive up and down the slope, not across it.
  • Don't remove any safety devices on the mower.
  • Check safety features often and repair or replace if needed.
  • With a corded electric mower, organize your work so you first cut the area nearest the electrical outlet, then gradually move away. This will minimize chances of your running over cord and being electrocuted.
  • Read the owner's manual to become familiar with the mower and keep it in a safe place for future reference.
  • Check the manual for directions on routine maintenance, checking engine oil levels and fluid in powered wheel drives, and performing maintenance when the mower is stored during the off-season.

If you cut grass with a pre-standard rotary mower, use extreme caution. Remember that the machine does not have the safety features of the newer equipment. 

  • If clippings jam the discharge chute, first shut off the engine. The blade must come to a complete stop before you attempt to clear the jam. If you try to clear the chute while the blade rotates, your fingers could be amputated.
  • Push the mower forward, never pull it backward.
  • If you want to adjust the cutting height on any machine, do so before starting the engine. The blade should always be stationary.
  • Shut down the engine if you leave the operator position for any reason. If you wish to disable the mower so no one can use it, simply remove the ignition wire from the spark plug or remove the spark plug.
88th Civil Engineer Squadron personnel cuts grass in a Brick Quarters common area.

Did you know?

From 2013 through 2015, an average of 35,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for walk-behind power mower injuries.
Ref: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

BECK ROW, England – Master Sgt. Eric Leirer, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, and his 13-year-old son Albert Valen, remove tangled grass from their lawn mower after mowing a huge area of overgrowth in the backyard of a disabled resident in Beck Row, a community just outside RAF Mildenhall, Aug. 25, 2012. Leirer and other volunteers, including his 13-year-old son, took on the task of clearing the yard for the homeowner, who was unable to perform the task herself. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)
Tech. Sgt. Jacob McDevitt, Day of Caring volunteer from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, repairs a broken lawn mower during the 30th Annual Day of Caring, Sept. 10, 2021, in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Day of Caring brings together volunteers to complete pre-determined tasks for individuals who are either unable to accomplish the tasks themselves, or do not have the resources to do so. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez-Chen)

Tree Maintenance Safety

  • Contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines.
  • All tree trimming or removal work within ten feet of a power line must be done by trained and experienced line-clearance tree trimmers. A second tree trimmer is required within normal voice communication range.
  • Line-clearance tree trimmers must be aware of and maintain the proper minimum approach distances when working around energized power lines.
  • Use extreme caution when moving ladders and equipment around downed trees and power lines.
  • Do not trim trees in dangerous weather conditions.
  • Perform a hazard assessment of the work area before starting work.
  • Eliminate or minimize exposure to hazards at the tree and in the surrounding area.
  • Operators of chain saws and other equipment should be trained and the equipment properly maintained.
  • Use personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, etc., recommended in the equipment manufacturer’s operating manual.
  • Determine the tree’s felling direction. Address forward lean, back lean, and/or side lean issues.
  • Determine the proper amount of hinge wood to safely guide the tree’s fall. Provide a retreat path to a safe location.
  • Inspect tree limbs for strength and stability before climbing. Tree trimmers working aloft must use appropriate fall protection.
  • Do not climb with tools in your hands.
  • If broken trees are under pressure, determine the direction of the pressure and make small cuts to release it.
  • Use extreme care when felling a tree that has not fallen completely to the ground and is lodged against another tree.
  • Never turn your back on a falling tree.
  • Be alert and avoid objects thrown back by a tree as it falls.

Power Equipment Safety

  • Avoid spilling gas when fueling power equipment.
  • Make sure your power yard work equipment, such as lawn mowers, edgers and trimmers, are in good working order.
  • Review and follow recommended instructions for lawn mowers and power lawn and garden equipment.
  • Wear protective goggles when mowing or working with other power outdoor equipment.
  • Wear hearing protection when operating loud equipment.
  • If you must leave the lawn mower for any reason, turn it off. Never leave a lawn mower running unattended.
  • Never drink alcoholic beverages when you are mowing the lawn or working with any other power yard equipment.
  • Never run a lawn mower or gas powered lawn or garden equipment indoors.
Individuals plant a tree.