September 29, 2022
US Department of Labor urges Midwest employers to emphasize lawnworker safety after lawn mower roll-over deaths in Nebraska, Missouri
Since fall 2019, 35 workers nationwide suffered fatal injuries in roll-over incidents
KANSAS CITY, MO – In two incidents in September, Midwest workers operating riding mowers suffered fatal injuries when the machines rolled over on top of them, prompting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to alert employers to train workers of the hazards they face and how to avoid them.
Since fall 2019, 35 workers died in the U.S. in lawn mower roll-over incidents. Commercial riding mowers can weigh upwards of 1,500 lbs.
“While our investigations of these recent tragedies in Missouri and Nebraska continues, they are harsh reminders of the dangers of operating riding mowers. Employers are responsible for training workers to recognize and avoid hazards, especially when it comes to mowing grass on slopes and in poor terrain,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri.
On Sept. 9, 2022, a worker doing lawn maintenance in Boys Town, Nebraska, died after a riding mower toppled over and pinned the victim underwater in a reservoir. Four days later, on Sept. 13, 2022, a mower overturned and crushed a worker in Butterfield, Missouri.
“Lawn mower injuries happen at many types of work sites – from office parks to golf courses and from highway medians to public parks – and, at times, workers are assigned lawn maintenance tasks only as needed, which can put workers less familiar with operating these machines safely at risk,” Kizer added.
Riding mowers can overturn for a variety of reasons such as speed, slope of area being mowed, poor terrain conditions, wet surfaces and operating too closely to ponds and waterways. Roll-over prevention devices, used in conjunction with seatbelts, can help riders avoid tragedy if installed.
Employers can also use OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program that offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. Programs are available in Midwest states including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
Learn more about OSHA.
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