ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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CPSC Urges Safety in the Yard and Garden

Standards keep outdoor equipment safe and functional

New York, Apr 27, 2005

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2003, more than 71,000 consumers went to emergency rooms because of injuries relating to push mowers and nearly 15,000 suffered injuries relating to riding mowers and garden tractors. April – National Gardening Month – is coming to a close, but springtime gardening and yard work projects will only increase for millions of Americans in the coming warm-weather weeks. A number of standards from the voluntary standardization community help guide many of the tools of the trade used by these "weekend warriors."

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has enhanced consumer protection with standards that establish safety guidelines for much of the equipment found in neighborhood garages and tool sheds. These standards, used by virtually all manufacturers, help to ensure that major hazards associated with the use of the equipment are addressed.

ANSI/OPEI B71.1, Outdoor Power Equipment - Walk-Behind Mowers and Ride-On Machines with Mowers - Safety Specifications, covers reel and rotary walk-behind and reel and rotary ride-on power lawn mowers, ride-on power lawn tractors with mower attachments, ride-on power lawn and garden tractors with mower attachments, and lever steer ride-on mowers. These safety requirements help ensure uniform operator environments.

ANSI/OPEI B175.3 and ANSI/OPEI B71.8 guide safety requirements for Grass Trimmers and Brushcutters and Walk-Behind Powered Rotary Tillers and Hand Supported Cultivators, respectively, to establish minimum manufacturer requirements to reduce the risk of injury associated with the use of these useful but often dangerous pieces of equipment.

The CPSC cites nearly 39,000 consumer visits to the emergency room with injuries relating to garden tools and supplies. When working with outdoor power equipment, the CPSC reminds consumer to:

  • Dress appropriately for the task. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts (to avoid injuries from thrown objects like rocks or sticks), close-fitting clothes and no jewelry (to avoid getting anything caught in moving parts), sturdy shoes with slip-resistant rubber soles, eye protection, heavy gloves (protects hands when changing, sharpening, or cleaning blades), and hearing protection such as ear plugs when using motor-driven equipment.

  • Before starting up machinery, remove objects from the area in which you are working that can cause injury or damage equipment, such as sticks, glass, metal, wire, and stones.

  • Make sure that safety devices on the equipment are in place and functioning properly before starting work.

  • Never let a child ride or operate a garden tractor or riding mower, even if the child is supervised. Teenagers should only be allowed to operate outdoor power equipment if they possess adequate strength and maturity to do so safely. They also should be supervised by a responsible adult.

  • Keep children indoors and supervised at all times when any outdoor power equipment is being used. Young children move quickly and are attracted to mowers and mowing activity, especially if they have been given rides on mowers before.

  • Never assume children will remain where you last saw them. Be alert and turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area. Use extra care when backing up or when approaching corners, shrubs, and trees.

  • Unplug electric tools and disconnect spark plug wires on gasoline-powered tools before making adjustments or clearing jams near moving parts.

  • Be sure power tools are turned off and made inoperable if they must be left unattended to prevent use by children.

  • Handle gas carefully. Never fill gasoline tanks while machinery is on or when equipment is still hot. Wipe up spills. Store gas in an approved container away from the house. Finally, never smoke or use any type of flame around gasoline or any gasoline-powered equipment.

  • Never work with electric power tools in wet or damp conditions. For protection against electrocution, use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs come in several models, including a portable plug-in type.

  • Be sure that extension cords are in good condition, are rated for outdoor use, and are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the tool.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative