Each year hundreds of ride-on mower operators are injured or killed as the result of rollover accidents. Several studies have indicated that rollover accidents are the most prominent type of fatal ride-on mower accident. Rollover accidents have occurred during actual mowing operations as well as during transport or loading onto transport equipment. The mowers themselves are designed and marketed for either commercial use or consumer use. However, commercial mowers are routinely sold to and used by ordinary consumers as there are no restrictions on such sales.
The mechanism of injury is typically the weight of the machine pinning the operator, or personal contact with a rotating cutting blade. Even relatively light-weight mowing machines have caused deaths due to asphyxiation or drowning when an operator was pinned under the machine. Operators that avoid being trapped under the weight of the machine may come into contact with a rotating cutting blade and receive a serious injury, such as an amputation.
This paper presents a brief history of industry safety standards applicable to either consumer or commercial mowing machines. A discussion is presented of available accident reports and statistics. Sources of the data reviewed include the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the author’s personal investigations. Several common rollover accident modes have been identified.
While it is not possible to design a ride-on mower that could not roll over, design considerations should be utilized to minimize the propensity of the machine to roll and to minimize injuries should the machine roll over. This paper describes these design considerations.