Each year nearly 80,000 Americans require hospital
treatment from injuries caused by lawn mowers, according to
a study conducted by researchers at the
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
And that number is increasing, they say, with the
majority of injuries occurring in children under age 15 and
in adults 60 and older. The most common cause of injuries
was strikes from debris, such as rocks and branches,
propelled by the mower's spinning blades.
The study, published in the April online edition of
the Annals of Emergency Medicine, is the first to
examine the extent and mechanisms of lawn mower injuries
"There is no reason anyone under 12 should ever be
injured by a lawn mower," said David Bishai, senior author
of the study and associate professor in the
Department of Population and Family Health Sciences at
the Bloomberg School. "If we would keep the kids off the
lawn when mowing and off the riding mowers, we could
greatly reduce the number of injuries each year." The
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no one under
age 16 should use a riding mower and that no one under age
12 should use a push mower.
Bishai and co-author Vanessa Costilla, a student with
the school's Diversity Summer Internship Program, analyzed
data of mower-related injuries requiring hospitalization
from the National Hospital Discharge Survey from 1996 to
2003 and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System
from 1996 to 2004.
According to the results, more than 663,000 people
were treated in emergency rooms in the United States for
lawn mower injuries between 1996 and 2004. More than 80,000
people required hospital treatment for lawn mower injuries
in 2004, a number that translates to about two out of every
1,000 injury-related emergency room visits. The rate is
about half the number treated for firearms injuries
annually. In addition to strikes from flying projectiles,
the most common causes of injury for people over age 15
were nonspecific pain after mowing and injuries occurring
while servicing the mower. The most common injury requiring
hospitalization was a foot fracture.
Based on the study results, Bishai recommends the
following safety tips:
Wear goggles, long pants and
close-toed shoes with gripped soles.
Clear the yard of debris before
Keep everyone, especially small
children, from the yard while mowing.
If you have a history of chest,
back or joint pain, reconsider mowing.
Wear protective gloves and use
care when servicing mower or changing blades.
Get help, if needed, to lift the
Never service the mower while it
Mow only in good weather
conditions, and avoid mowing in high heat.
Do not use riding mowers on steep
hills or embankments.
Do not carry passengers on riding
mowers or tow passengers behind the mower.
Do not allow children under the
age of 16 to operate a riding mower.
Store lawn mowers in area with
minimal traffic and not accessible to children.
"These are machines with sharp blades spinning at 160
miles per hour just inches away from our feet and hands.
Everyone needs to respect the dangers and use common
sense," Bishai said.
Funding for the study was provided by the Student
Diversity Office at the Bloomberg School of Public Health
and grants from the Johns Hopkins
Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Injury Prevention and Control.