General Mower Safety
Mowers are the most common types of lawn care equipment. To avoid injury with power mower equipment, you must pay close attention to your surroundings. Whether using a riding mower or a walk-behind mower, follow these guidelines for lawn mower safety:
- Read the instruction manual before your first use of the mower.
- A unique hazard of mowers is the danger of foreign objects becoming projectiles. Conduct a pre-mowing inspection of the lawn and remove any debris, rocks, limbs, or other items. Pedestrians or other persons working in the vicinity of mowers should maintain a safe distance to avoid being struck by flying debris. Also look for other concealed hazards such as holes.
- Do not bypass manufacturers safety devices (i.e. tying grass shoot/deflector in up-right position).
- Keep hands and feet away from blades and other moving parts.
- Fill the tank with gas before beginning work.
- Replace loud or faulty mufflers.
- Shut off the engine before unclogging, servicing, or adjusting the mower and before removing the grassbag. For added protection, remove the ignition wire or key before working on the machine.
- Make sure proper personal protective equipment is in use (ear plugs, safety glasses, etc.) where applicable.
Riding Lawn Mower Safety
In addition to the general guidelines for mower safety, follow these guidelines for riding lawn mowers:
- Before starting the engine, make sure the transmission is out of gear and the mower blade clutch is disengaged.
- Never allow extra riders on the lawn mower.
- Slow down when turning and when working on slopes. Mow up and down slopes rather than across them.
- Always look behind you before backing.
- If you hit a large rock or stump, stop the mower, shut off the engine, and inspect the blades and shaft. Replace damaged blades.
- Never leave a running lawn mower unattended. Before leaving the seat, park the mower on a flat area, disengage the mower blades, and remove the ignition key.
Walk-Behind Mower Safety
In addition to the general guidelines for mower safety, follow these guidelines for walk-behind mowers:
- Wear sturdy shoes with good traction. Never wear sandals around walk-behind mowers.
- Do not bypass the safety device that stops the blade when you release your grip on the handle.
- Mow across slopes rather than up and down slopes.
- Work slowly and patiently when mowing tall grass or tough weeds. Forcing the mower may cause repeated clogs and engine stalls.
- Never leave a running mower unattended. If you stop momentarily cut the throttle to idle and make sure the mower will not roll away.
Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, disinfectants, rodenticides, and animal repellants are all pesticides that present varying degrees of hazard. These products were made to alter life cycles of living pest organisms and many of these products are dangerous to people if not handled properly. The safe use of pesticides is everyone’s responsibility, especially the users. This begins the day the pesticide poison is selected and purchased and continues until the empty container has been disposed of properly. A U.S. Department of Agriculture County Extension Agent can help in choosing the proper pesticide poison, and can provide information regarding the proper time to use the poison. All pesticides sold in the United States must carry an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the label. This means the EPA has reviewed the product and found it safe and effective when used according to the directions. All labels must include a list of what the product will control, directions on how to apply the pesticide, a warning of potential hazards, and safety measures to follow.
Before using any pesticide poison, be sure to read the label carefully. The label gives some idea of the hazards involved, possible antidotes, and first aid instructions. Those poisons that have Danger-Poison on the label are highly toxic. If inhaled, eaten, or frequently allowed to remain in contact with the skin, they could be deadly. Poisons that have Warning on the label are moderately toxic and can be hazardous. Poisons that have Caution on the label have fairly low toxicity, but could be harmful if the poison is eaten or grossly misused. Follow the label instructions for mixing, handling, applying and disposing.
- Mix pesticide poisons carefully in well ventilated areas, outdoors if possible.
- Use protective clothing and equipment, including respirators as directed by the package label, MSDS, or your supervisor.
- Certain pesticides require emergency eyewash, shower, and flushing stations in areas where pesticides are mixed or used. Supervisors are responsible for evaluating such need. Information on emergency eyewash, shower, and flushing stations can be found in the Emergency Preparedness section of this manual.
- Label a special set of mixing tools—measuring spoons and a graduated measuring cup—for use with pesticides only. Store them in a safe location where they will not be used for non-pesticide use.
- Avoid spilling. Set aside a level shelf or bench in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside, for mixing chemicals. A level, uncluttered surface helps avoid spills. If a small amount (less than 1 Liter) of chemical does spill, wash hands at once with soap and water, and follow manufactures directions for cleanup.
- Keep soap and plenty of water nearby. Pet litter, ground corncobs, or sawdust can also be helpful at the storage site to soak up spills and leaks. A shovel, dustpan, broom, and proper type of fire extinguisher are other essential items. Contact the Office of Safety for all spills so that they can provide the necessary assistance and/or advisement.
Small quantities of pesticides available over the counter (i.e. household bug or weed spray) are exempt from applicator certification requirements. When pesticides are applied, the applicator must be certified by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture or be under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. If restricted-use pesticides are being applied, the applicator must be certified. Restricted-use pesticides are those for which more stringent application and certification requirements exist.
Always inform persons in the area where pesticides are being applied. Depending on the pesticide applied and the location of the application, it may be necessary to post signage to warn persons in the application area of potential hazards and the amount of time they should stay out of the area. Follow the manufactures guidelines or contact Office of Safety for signage requirements.
When using pesticides, these requirements must be followed to insure the safety of the user as well as the safety of others:
- Use pesticide poisons only for the purposes given on the label.
- Keep pesticide poisons in the original labeled container. Frequently check containers for leaks or damage. If leaking, transfer the pesticide to a compatible container and label properly.
- Pesticides can be inadvertently ingested by hand to mouth contact. Never smoke or eat while spraying or dusting.
- During application, stay out of the spray drift. Avoid outside application on days when the wind could cause drift of the material away from the intended location.
- If pesticides come into contact with the skin or clothing, remove clothing as soon as possible and take a shower, using soap and water. Contaminated clothing must be washed before re-use.
- When the job is finished, wash immediately with soap and water. To avoid accidental ingestion, do not smoke, eat, drink, or chew gum without washing first.
- Wear appropriate protective equipment as required by the package label or the MSDS for the chemical being sprayed (i.e. protective eyewear, gloves, respirators).
Safe Storage of Pesticides
The following are requirements for bulk storage of pesticides.
- Do not store clothing, respirators, lunches, cigarettes, or drinks with pesticide poisons.
- Store pesticides in the original containers with the lids tightly closed. Position the container so that the label is plainly visible. The label gives information needed in case of an accident. Never store pesticides in anything used as a food or drink container, even for a short time.
- Store all pesticides in a well-ventilated, secured area.
- Storage locations must be provided with appropriate signage.
- Purchase only the amount of pesticide needed for one season.
Disposal of Pesticides
Never pour leftover pesticides down the sink, toilet bowl, or on the ground. Pesticide containers that are not empty should be turned into Office of Safety for proper disposal.
Empty containers must be triple-rinsed and discarded in the regular trash. Never re-use a pesticide container for another purpose.
In case of an emergency, call 911. Additional information on antidotes for specific pesticides may be obtained from the following list of agencies that maintain a current information file on all compounds, their constituents, and recommended treatment in case of poisoning. Contact the manufacturers emergency number listed on the pesticide container first, if the number is not available, contact these other resources for information.
North Dakota Poison Control Center 1-800-732-2200
North Dakota State Department of Health 1-701-328-5188
National Pesticide Telecommunications Network 1-800-858-7378
Environmental Protection Agency 1-800-227-8917
Facilities has primary responsibility for maintaining University public walks. While Facilities strives to keep public walks hazard free, the extreme climatic conditions in Grand Forks make this a formidable task. Facilities personnel perform an annual review of public walks on campus after the freeze/thaw cycle to address hazardous conditions that result from shifting. The review is used to identify and plan for repairs to such things as cracks, displacement, and deterioration. Your assistance with reporting potentially hazardous conditions to public walks is important to the campus community. Please report any adverse conditions to Facilities at 701-777-2591.
Weather causes icy conditions on the University’s public walks, parking lots, and roads. Facilities uses salt and sand to minimize slippery conditions. Please report any hazardous conditions to Facilities, 701-777-2591. There are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of falling on ice. Here are some helpful tips.
- Wear boots or overshoes with grip soles. Slick leather or rubber soles on dress shoes are unsafe on ice.
- Don’t walk with your hands in your pocket. This reduces your balance if you slip on the ice.
- Take short to medium steps or shuffle your feet in very icy areas.
- Don’t carry or swing heavy loads, such as large boxes or cases, which could cause you to lose your balance when walking.
- When walking, curl your toes under and walk as flatfooted as possible.
- Don’t step on uneven surfaces. Step well over or avoid curbs with ice on them.
- Place your full attention on walking. Don’t allow your attention to be divided by getting your keys out of your pocket, digging in your pocketbook for items, etc., while walking on ice.
- In addition to maintaining public walks, keeping building entrances free from obstructions/hazards also promotes free and safe movement. For further information, call Facilities at 701-777-2591 or the Office of Safety at 701-777-3341.
Rodent and Insect Control
The University of North Dakota has contracted with a licensed and bonded pest control company to control pests, rodents, and insects, which include, but are not limited to: Rats, mice, gophers, rabbits, cockroaches, silverfish, ants, crickets, spiders, bees, flies, wasps, all other arthropods, and pest birds. Mosquitoes are excluded. If you are having problems with pests, rodents, or insects, please call the Facilities department to report the problem.
Weather conditions dictate the callback and response of snow removal personnel. During normal school schedule, UND Police survey the situation and report this information to the Facilities’ Communication Center. The Communication Center personnel review the police report(s) and the proper procedure is determined by the current conditions. During the weekend or holidays, Facilities' Grounds Supervisor or Associate Director determines the response of personnel.
Facilities has a written priority list for snow removal. In general; roads, public walks, loading areas, accessible entrances and parking lots that serve the highest number of people are assigned the highest priority. The Facilities snow removal priority list can be viewed by visiting their web site. The priority list may be subject to change depending on campus activities, events, problem areas reported to Facilities, and other varying circumstances.
Personnel using snow blowers need to be aware of the hazards they present. All snow blowers are potentially dangerous to the uninformed, careless user. They contain a large, exposed mechanism designed to dig into the snow, making it difficult to provide safety through a guard system. However, with proper use, snow blowers offer a service that is safer than shoveling.
The auger at the front of the blower, along with moving gears, chains and belts, presents the greatest hazard to anyone tampering with a blower while it’s running. Injuries usually occur when the operator attempts to clear off debris without turning off the motor.
Wet snow tends to clog the blades and vanes, and often jams and sticks in the chute. Operators must keep a careful watch for items hidden under the snow that could be picked up by the blower and discharged out of the machines chute. Please note that objects such as small pieces of ice, pebbles and debris will fly farther than snow.
The following safety suggestions can protect you and others while operating a snow blower:
- Read the operator’s manual.
- Know the controls and how to stop the engine or throw the unit out of gear quickly.
- Disengage power and stop the motor before cleaning the discharge chute, removing obstacles, making adjustments or when leaving the operating position.
- Disengage all clutches and shift into neutral before starting the motor.
- Do not allow children or unqualified persons to operate the machine, and keep them safe distances away.
- Adjust height to clear gravel or crushed rock surface.
- Wear appropriate footwear, and exercise caution to avoid slipping or falling.
- Direct the discharge towards areas free from persons, buildings or vehicles.
- Keep the machine in good operating condition, do not modify the machine and keep safety devices and guards in place.
If the area to be cleared of snow is small, or if you do not have a snow blower, you will likely have to shovel by hand. Only persons in good physical condition and good general health should shovel.
When shoveling, mentally divide the area into sections and clean one part; then rest before going onto the next section. Whenever the snow begins to feel especially heavy, take a break. A few things to keep in mind when shoveling are:
- As with any moderate to strenuous activity, you should warm up before shoveling. Start by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs, as warm muscles will work more efficiently and are less likely to be injured.
- Wet snow is much heavier than dry snow. Govern your shoveling accordingly.
- Push or sweep away as much of the snow as possible.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is an issue in cold winter months just as it is in the summer.
- When shoveling, stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.
- Wear appropriate footwear, and exercise caution to avoid slipping or falling.
- Make use of ice-melting materials to make the job as easy as possible. Make certain that the melting material is friendly to the environment and appropriate for the icy surface.
- Dress warmly while shoveling to protect against frostbite. Don’t bundle yourself up so heavily that it is hard to move.
- If you experience chest pain, weakness or other signs of physical distress, stop shoveling at once and seek medical attention.
Snow Plows and Tractors
Vehicles such as tractors, pick-ups and end loaders are frequently used with plow attachments for clearing snow from larger areas. Such vehicles must be equipped with a flashing beacon for visibility and those operating in pedestrian areas should be outfitted with reverse alarming. Operators of such plow equipment must be constantly aware of potential hazards existing under the blanket of snow.
Pedestrians should never assume that working personnel and the operators of heavy equipment are able to see you. Pay attention and try to establish eye contact whenever possible.