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The renewed focus on operator comfort and ergonomics as these issues relate to the specification of commercial mowers addresses two always-important issues for grounds managers and their mowing operations — operator safety and productivity.
“We pay a great deal of attention to ergonomics, and that plays a role in safety in a lot of ways,” Minas says. “Control layouts are intuitive. Operators don’t have to look down to find certain things. That allows them to keep their hands on the control levers and keep their eyes on where they’re going. Paying more attention to the ergonomics and the control layout and the functionality of the machine plays a role in improving safety.”
In addition to controls, manufacturers of riding mowers are paying greater attention to the materials and construction of seats. Schoenthaler says his company’s newer models feature an operator station that is iso-mounted in order to cushion the seat and footrest.
The seats also are covered with a fabric that breathes and is scuff- and tear-resistant, and they feature lumbar support and padded armrests for additional comfort. Beyond the seat, he says, one feature on front-mount mowers raises the deck for easier maintenance and cleaning in order to prevent operator back injuries.
The issue of operator ergonomics, comfort and safety will only receive more attention in the future..
“It’s one of those issues that is assumed, particularly in bigger organizations,” Minas says. “The larger the organization, the more employees they have, the more sensitive to it they are because of the sheer number of moving parts they have in the organization. So there isn’t any greater sensitivity to it in the last five to ten years, but it’s still important, and people still pay attention to it.”
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