WHILE lawnmowers, brushcutters and to a lesser extent generators and pumps are becoming common household items, many unnecessary and easily-avoidable accidents occur each year due to carelessness or complacency during operation.
A Victorian Injury Surveillance System (VISS) report found that 22 per cent of garden equipment injuries were associated with lawnmower use.
According to the report, the overwhelming majority of injuries were to the legs and fingers and caused by a body part getting caught under, slipping under or being run over by the lawnmower.
A similar number of injuries happened when debris was propelled by the lawnmower blades, whose velocity is estimated to reach speeds of over 370km/h.
Honda Power Equipment manager Bob Donaldson said that by following correct safety procedures, the chance of injury was greatly reduced.
"The first thing I would recommend when using a lawnmower or any power equipment, is to consult the owner's manual," Mr Donaldson said, "all the essential safety tips are there within the first few pages.
"Some of the safety precautions seem to be commonsense, however injuries continue to occur.
"Amazingly according to the VISS report, some operators are clearing wet grass, adjusting the deck height or removing the catcher, with the mower still running resulting in some nasty finger injuries."
To help keep you safer when mowing your lawn, Mr Donaldson lists the basics.
Ensure the area you wish to cut is free of sticks, stones, wire or any other debris, also look for hidden obstructions such as drain covers and take care to avoid them while mowing.
Before starting your mower, inspect the blades, blade bolts and cutter assembly for damage or wear.
If fuel is needed, refuel outdoors and do not smoke when refuelling. Fuel should be added before starting the engine, never while the engine is running or hot.
If using a lawnmower with a catcher, make sure the engine is off before attaching and reattaching, this includes when the catcher is being emptied.
It is also important to know how to stop the engine quickly in case of an emergency and take care to not mow when people, especially children are in the mowing area.
Clothing and safety equipment
Never cut grass while barefoot or wearing open sandals or thongs; ideally long trousers and heavy shoes should be worn.
It is also recommended that suitable eyewear and hearing protection be used.
Start the engine carefully with your feet away from the blades, and only start in an open space to avoid exhaust fumes.
Walk behind the mower never run, and never cut grass while walking backwards.
Care must also be taken when cutting grass on slopes - mow across the face of a slope, never up and down the face, and when changing direction on slopes, extreme caution must be exercised.
Only mow in good daylight, stop the engine whenever you leave the mower, even if only for a moment.
Only use lawnmowers that meet Australian standards and adhere to maintenance schedules detailed in the owner's manual.
Mr Donaldson said Honda's advanced four-stroke Buffalo lawnmower range was ideally suited to Australian conditions and met strict Australian standards.
"Honda's Buffalo mowers are one of the few lawnmowers on the market designed and constructed in Australia specifically for our demanding conditions," Mr Donaldson said.
"During development all Buffalo units are tested under extremely demanding conditions, including 150 hours of continuous running, and a structural integrity tests.
"150 hours of continuous use amounts to more than five years' service under normal residential mowing conditions.
"Some manufacturers talk about meeting Australian construction standards, but we know that our products well exceed these standards.
"But even the best made lawnmower is no substitute for care and commonsense."