Mower selection tends to focus on finances and performance, but managers also need to pay close attention to two issues that relate to equipment operators – safety and ergonomics.The Toro Co.
Safety Must Be Key Consideration in Mower Selection
Safety and ergonomics are related because operators who are comfortable using the equipment are likely to remain more alert and operate the equipment safely.
While mower selection understandably focuses on the financial and performance aspects of the equipment, managers also need to pay close attention to two issues that relate directly to the operators of the equipment – safety and ergonomics. The two issues, in fact, are related because operators who are comfortable using the equipment are likely to remain more alert and operate the equipment as the manufacturer intended.
“Safety and comfort should go hand in hand,” Schoenthaler says. “Rollover protection and safety belts should be mandatory in the selection of a mower. Additionally, a system of interlock switches should be in place to shut the engine down when the operator leaves the seat with the PTO engaged. The steering levers should swing away to allow easy on and off.”
Scheffler points out additional safety features managers need to be aware of.
“Covers and protective shields should be reviewed for safety, as well,” he says. “Guards around engines, mufflers and other hot-to-the-touch areas should be evaluated.”
Manufacturers have made strides in recent years in designing mowers that attend to the comfort, health and safety of operators, who often spend long hours in less-than-ideal conditions.
“When it comes to ergonomics, one needs to review how the controls are operated and the way controls travel with relationship to the operator,” Scheffler says. “Operator interface should be simple, with easy motion and in line with how an operator naturally moves so as to keep individuals healthier and less tired at the end of the day.”
Ferguson adds these features to the list of ergonomic items managers need to be aware of: air-ride seat suspension, low noise levels, convenient access to controls, open service access, ease of ingress and egress, intuitive operation, and the availability of an optional operator safety and security cab with air conditioning and heat.
Schoenthaler advises managers to discuss the features with the manufacturer prior to purchase.
“These comfort features should be built into the brand and not add-ons,” he says. “Employees who operate a more comfortable mower are more likely to stay with you and not seek opportunities elsewhere.”