Updated 05 October 2018

In the US, lawn mowers are an accident waiting to happen

A new review of 51 000 lawn mower injuries in the US between 2006 and 2013 found that 85% of the injuries were to men, with one of the study authors saying it remains a serious public health concern, despite consumer education programmes and warning labels.

Mowing your lawn can be a dangerous job, resulting in severe injury or even the loss of a limb.

A new review of 5 000 lawn mower injuries between 2006 and 2013 found that 85% of the injuries were to men. Moreover, children up to age four were six times more likely to have a foot or toe or lower extremity injury and nearly two times more likely to have an amputation than those aged 15 and older.

A serious public health concern

Older teens and adults were more than eight times more likely to have an injury to a hand or arm.

"Despite consumer education programmes and warning labels, lawn mower injuries in the United States remain a serious public health concern," said senior study author Dr Deborah Schwengel, an assistant professor of anaesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Young children are more likely to get injured by running into the yard while a family member is using a mower or getting their foot trapped in the mower while sitting in the lap of someone running the mower, the researchers noted.

Most teens and adults are hurt when they stick their hands in the mower to clear debris, Schwengel's team found.

The researchers weren't able to tell which types of mowers were the most dangerous.

Better prevention policies needed

For the study, researchers used data from the US Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the largest emergency department database in the country.

Most of the injuries were cuts 47%, fractures 22% and amputations 22%. Most were to the wrist or hand 65% and foot or toe 20%.

Thirty-eight percent of the injuries occurred in the South. Most injuries (66%) occurred on weekdays. Most (82%) happened between April and September. "Understanding what types of injuries occur in certain groups should help engineers design safer lawn mowers and policymakers create more appropriate prevention policies," Schwengel said in a Hopkins news release.

A better lawn mower design that could prevent injury, for example, would be one that automatically stops the mower when human flesh is detected near the blades, the researchers said.

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