The Champion

The War on Weeds

Before wielding your trusty Weed Weapon this summer, take a moment for a safety review.

These string trimmers, powered by gasoline or electricity, cut down weeds and other plants with a rapidly rotating plastic filament. These tools come in a wide range of sizes, tiny for controlling weeds on a condominium-sized lawn, and industrial strength for large landscaping jobs.

String trimmers of all sizes have common hazards, however. Eye injuries from flying particles, cuts to the feet and ankles from the spinning string, explosions involving the fuel and shocks from the electrically powered models are the most common.

Before waging your war on weeds, review these string trimmer safety reminders:

  • Read the operator’s manual before using a weed trimmer or any unfamiliar equipment.
  • Inspect the equipment to make sure it is in good repair. Look for damage to the cord and connections when using an electrical model.
  • Use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter to prevent shock when using an electric trimmer.
  • Wear protective clothing. Safety eyewear is a must to protect you against rocks and debris propelled by the tool. Wear sturdy footwear with toe and ankle protection, long pants and gloves. String trimmers are noisy, so wear hearing protection.
  • Do not wear loose clothing which can become entangled in the rotating parts.
  • Shut off the equipment and disconnect the power cord or spark plug before attempting any adjustments.
  • Wait until the engine is cool before refueling. Do not refuel while smoking or near an open flame.
  • Work so that material is discharged from the trimmer away from you.
  • Keep others at least 50 feet away when operating this tool.
  • Use a string trimmer for the work it was designed to do – cutting grass and weeds. Do not use it to trim shrubbery or plants above the ground level. Do not operate the trimmer above waist level.
  • Don’t sluff off weed trimming at home to pre-teen children. Like any power tool, weed trimmers are dangerous if not handled properly.

Other groundskeeping equipment involves similar hazards and precautions. Mowers, mulchers, edgers, hedge trimmers, tillers and leafblowers have moving parts which can inflict serious damage on hands and feet. They can propel objects at great speeds, causing eye injuries. Fuel and electrical power sources have built-in hazards. Know how to protect yourself and others before you use any of these powered tools.

Using a string trimmer may be part of your job at work, perhaps in maintaining landscaping. Or you may use one on the weekend to keep your own back yard under control. In either case, cultivate safe work.

Upcoming MSF Safety Workshops

June 3 –   Bozeman
June 4 –   Butte
June 5 –   Great Falls
June 9 –   Helena
June 11 – Miles City
June 12 – Billings
June 18 – Kalispell
June 19-  Missoula

Upcoming SafetyFestMT 
Butte: June 2-4, 2015
Billings: November 16-20, 2015