Top 8 Mistakes When Using Outdoor Power Equipment

Here's a list of what landscape contractors should avoid doing when operating outdoor power equipment.

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

As the weather warms and people are coaxed outside to their yards and managed landscapes, it’s time for everyone to remember how to use their outdoor power equipment safely and properly.

Think safety first. Review manufacturer’s safety guidance before starting up any equipment—especially the mower mower. Review the owner’s manual and do maintenance on equipment. Also being aware of surroundings is key, and be sure to keep kids and pets away from outdoor power equipment while it’s in use.

Below are eight most common mistakes to avoid when using outdoor power equipment.

1. Thinking all mowers are the same.

Operators need to know how to handle their specific equipment correctly and do basic operations like turning it off or on and controlling speed. Review the owner’s manual and how to use the equipment before use.

2. Not inspecting equipment before use.

Always look over equipment before operating it. Check the air filter, oil level and gasoline tank. Watch for loose belts and missing or damaged parts. Replace any parts needed or take your equipment to a qualified service representative.

3. Not walking through the yard or work area before starting to mow or using other outdoor power equipment.

Always walk the area you intend to work in, and look for and remove objects, sticks and other items that could create a hazard. 

4. Removing or not using safety guards on the equipment.

Never alter or disable safety protection measures. If needed, take equipment to a qualified service representative for repairs and inspection.

5. Using fuels not designed for equipment.

Loading up outdoor power equipment with gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol in it can cause running problems and damage the fuel line. Always use E10 or less.

6. Using batteries or chargers that are not specified by the manufacturer.

While a host of batteries and chargers can be found for sale online, only use batteries and chargers specified by the equipment manufacturer.

7. Not storing fuel and batteries safely.

Coffee cans, milk jugs and other non-approved containers should not be used to store fuel. Only store fuel in containers designed for it and always use up fuel before it is 30 days old. Label fuel cans with the date of purchase and ethanol content. When battery packs are not in use, keep them away from other metal objects, like paper clips, coins, keys, nails, screws or other small metal objects, that can make a connection from one terminal to another. Shorting the battery terminals together may cause burns or a fire.

8. Not cleaning or storing equipment well.

Equipment will run more efficiently and last longer if it’s cleaned. Always remove dirt, oil or grass before using and storing your equipment. Store equipment in a dry place, avoiding damp or wet environments.