December 1999 - Volume VI, Issue 12

Mowing Operations Safety Check List

David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist

Mowing is the most fundamental cultural management practice. Mowing equipment has improved drastically in the last 10-15 years with safety features. However standard operating procedures should still be followed for both reel-type and rotary powered mowers.

Rotary mowers (single blade spinning horizontally under the deck). Rotary mowers are used for mowing heights of 1 2" and lower.


1. Carburetor air cleaner and pre-filter check

2. Oil level filled and proper viscosity. Check at each use. Tighten fill cap.

3. Change oil every 15 hours of use.

4. Check wheel axles for tightness twice a year.

5. Check mowing height index levers, each use.

6. Check blade for sharpness, every 20 hours of use.

7. Check throttle and blade-brake operation. Lubricate cables when necessary.

8. Check cooling fins for air flow (no grass clippings).

9. Check underside of deck for accumulated grass clippings.

* Remove spark plug cable

* Pull starter cord to top of compression stroke

* Tip mower over on non-carburetor side

* Remove clippings with scraper

10. Check discharge chute and or collection box for mounting and clearance.

11. When stopping mower, return to idle BEFORE letting go of the blade-brake bar.

Reel mowers (exposed multiple blades rotating in front of unit). Reel mowers are used for mowing heights of 1 2 " and below.


1. Carburetor air cleaner and pre-filter check.

2. Oil level filled and proper oil viscosity. Check before each use. Tighten filler cap.

3. Change oil every 15 hours of use.

4. Lubricate grease fittings for chain sprockets, drive and wheels.

5. Clutch spring and plates are clean and free of clipping debris and grit.

6. Front wheel bar is tight and adjusted properly.

7. Blade cuts paper by hand spinning across entire edge of bed-knife. (Always use a glove!)

8. Check throttle cable for binding. Lubricate when necessary. Always wear gloves when checking.

9. Drive chains are lubricated and free of grit.

10. Catch bag for clippings fits easily, and does not bind.

11. Always disconnect clutch drive for reels when emptying clipping box.

12. Have reels back-lapped every 30 hours of use. Have reels ground once a year or every two years, as required.

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