The benefits of zero turn mowers are many, but their primary benefit is greater ease of use and a more professional lawn appearance when the mowing work is complete. For this reason, their popularity has been increasing over the past decade or so. With a more advanced type of mower, though, comes a slew of new safety guidelines and recommendations. From how and where to operate the mower to additional equipment that can make it easier and safer to use, zero turn mower buyers should be aware of how to protect their investment and themselves after purchase.
The Key to Safety: Rollover Protection Systems
One of the biggest problems to affect those in the landscaping and agriculture industry is the potential for equipment rollover or overturn. This can be the result of driving too fast, navigating too steep a grade, or other operating decisions that just aren’t compatible with the equipment’s center of gravity. There are at least two ways to reduce the likelihood of a rollover when mowing with a zero turn model, both of which should be but into practice right away after buying one of these advanced mowers.
The first consideration is simply the maximum grade on which to use the zero turn mower. The grade helps to define and determine the center of gravity, and steeper grades generally work against the mower and increase its chances of tipping or rolling. Scag, one of the leading zero turn mower manufacturers on the market, generally recommends that its customers don’t use zero turn mowers on grades steeper than 15 degrees. Other companies have different regulations, but they each adhere to strict guidelines for use. Before tackling uneven terrain or a steep lawn with any zero turn model, check into its rated tolerance for grades and inclines to ensure safety.
In addition to using the mower only on grades rated safe by the mower’s manufacturer, buyers should also make sure to buy a rollover protection system at the time of their actual mower purchase. In studies done by OSHA, the leading workplace regulatory body in the United States, it was found that virtually every rollover injury could be dramatically lessened or completely avoided simply by installing one of these systems.
For those who are not familiar with a rollover protection system, or ROPS, it looks like a u-shaped bar that sits behind the driver’s seat. This bar is crucial to making sure the mower does completely over turn. In the worst case scenario, the mower will fall on its side. It will not, however, roll over and expose the blades to the air. This can reduce the likelihood of serious operator injury or even death.
Considerations While Mowing: A Look at Best Practices
In addition to preventing rollover situations, there are some other best practices and considerations to be made when purchasing a zero turn mower for use in either commercial or residential environments.
1. Seek Operator Training
Most landscaping companies, and many zero turn mower dealers, offer operator training that will help those new to such mowers with basic operations, safety skills, and avoiding other problems. These courses are almost always recommended by the manufacturer and, in many professional environments, they’re required before an employee can operate any commercial-grade mower or lawn tractor.
2. Use Recommended Oil and Gas
All too often, people try to save a small amount of money by using a lesser grade of gasoline or a type of engine oil that hasn’t been specifically recommended by the mower’s manufacturer. This can lead to engine problems and major safety concerns, including engine fires and sparks near the fuel tank. Use only the recommended products for the best results and the safest real world usage.
3. Don’t Delay the Handling of Clogs
If something on the mower becomes, jammed, blocked ,or clogged, it needs to be fixed right away. Fixing it after the mowing job is complete could cause a great deal of damage to the mower engine or the blades, and it could put the operator at a pretty severe risk of injury based on the type of clog and the material that has gotten in the way.
4. Always Repair Damaged or Dated Equipment
From engine parts to accessories and shields, damaged equipment should not be kept on the mower for any longer than is necessary. All damage repair and replacement should be done with OEM parts, reducing the risk of injury and benefitting operators with better quality parts that last a great deal longer.
For Parts and Service, Choose Shank’s Lawn Equipment
For a large number of zero turn mowers that employ great safety structures and deliver professional results, Shank’s Lawn Equipment is probably a consumer’s best choice. The company has a number of authorized retailer agreements in place, with brands like Scag for professionals and other labels for amateur landscapers and homeowners. Plus, they have a large number of OEM parts in stock that will keep mowers and power equipment of any kind functioning like new for years to come.
Since 1984, Shanks Lawn Equipment has been in business, providing parts, service and equipment to the surrounding areas. If you are in the Cumberland Valley or I-81 Corridor, stop by to visit our location and our knowledgeable staff.