Many Australians use some form of gardening tool on a regular basis, but they can cause serious harm to you and others if used incorrectly, poorly maintained or used without adequate safety precautions. However by following some safety guidelines and by paying careful attention, most accidents and injuries can be prevented.


General Precautions

  • Before using any tool, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Many instructions manuals can also be found at manufacturer’s websites
  • Ensure you use the tool for the job it was intended for
  • Ensure the tool is not too heavy to use effectively and take appropriate breaks to prevent fatigue
  • Always use the required personal protective equipment (PPE) this may include, hearing protection (ear muffs, ear plugs) eye protection (Safety glasses or face shields) gloves, boots or chaps
  • Avoid loose fitting clothing or jewellery that can become caught in moving parts. Any long hair should be tied up
  • Never remove safety guards or modify tools
  • Keep your tool well maintained this includes :
    > power cords are free from frays,
    > clean air filters
    > blades are sharp
    > free from build-up of grass, oil & petrol
  • Never work alone, if an accident does happen ensure you can quickly contact someone for help
  • Do not use tools under the influence of alcohol or drugs, this includes some prescription medicines
  • Ensure that you are aware of any other people or animals around you whilst operating the tool and ensure that children are out of the way
  • Secure your tools out of reach of children
  • Do not operate tools in poor light


Electrical Tool Precautions

  • Don’t operate electrical tools in the rain or in wet areas such as ponds
  • Make sure you have a circuit breaker in use with any outdoor electrical tools
  • Ensure the power is turned off and the plug or battery pack is removed before any maintenance or cleaning


Petrol Fuelled Power Tools

  • Do not refuel petrol tools with the engine running, wait for the engine to cool down before refuelling and clean up any fuel spills. Ensure you refuel or mix fuel outdoors and do not smoke whilst refuelling
  • Ensure petrol is responsibly stored in an approved container
  • Ensure the spark plug is disconnected before performing any maintenance or cleaning
  • Before using hand tools inspect the tools for defects such as splinters in the handle or cracks in the metal and ensure the head of the tool is attached correctly to the handle
  • Keep the cutting edges of garden hand tools sharp
  • When using a cutting tool, always cut away from the body
  • Be aware of other people and pets around you as you work and ensure you have enough clearance
  • Be aware of manual handling injuries whilst using hand tools and take regular breaks
  • Ensure you pack long handle tools away after use as they may cause a trip hazard


Lawn Mowers

Lawn mowers are one of the most common powered garden tools in Australian homes, but they can also be one of the most dangerous.

  • Before using the mower inspect the lawn for rocks, sticks, toys, hoses or any other object that can become entangled in the blades or act as a projectile if hit by the blades.
  • Make sure that children and pets are out of the way before starting.
  • Inspect the mower, ensuring it is serviceable and in good working order and that no guards or other safety features are broken.
  • Ensure you wear sturdy shoes or boots and if required hearing protection.
  • For electric lawn mowers make sure the power cord is behind you when in use and cut away from the cord not towards it.
  • Be aware of any slopes; push type mowers are best used across the slope to prevent the mower rolling back and ride on mowers are best used up and down the slope to prevent the mower from tipping over to the side. Be aware of excessive slopes.
  • Never try to remove an obstruction from a lawn mower whilst it is running. Disconnect the power lead, battery or spark plug first.


Chain Saws

Chain saws are very dangerous power tools and they should not be operated unless you are confidant with the tool, use appropriate PPE and have preferably received qualified instruction

  • Before using the chainsaw ensure that the tool is maintained in correct working order as per manufactures instructions. This includes ensuring that the chain is sharp and at the right tension, the tool is lubricated and that all nuts/screws are at the right tension
  • Ensure that the chain brake and other safety features work
  • Ensure you have the correct PPE, face guard, chaps, gloves, and hearing protection. Also ensure that that you have no loose clothing and that the PPE fits correctly
  • Make sure you that the saw blade is not in contact with anything before you start
  • Assess the cut before undertaking it, make sure that falling branches will not hit yourself or others or cause damage
  • Ensure you have a secure footing and do not operate the saw above chest height
  • Use the bottom of the saw to cut, not the tip or top of the saw
  • Make sure your body is free of the path of the saw
  • Make sure that the timber you are cutting is free of obstructions as well such as nails
  • Ensure you use both hands on the tool during operation


Hedge Trimmers

  • Ensure that you have a secure footing, and that you do not over balance. Do not operate the tool above chest height
  • Be aware of the blades and where your hands are
  • Ensure you have both hands on the tool during operation


Leaf Blowers

  • Ensure that the nozzle is not pointed at pets or people as there is potential for eye injury
  • Dust masks and ear protection may be useful during operation


Brush Cutters / Line Trimmers

  • Do not remove any guards from brush cutters/line trimmers
  • Ensure you turn the machine off and disconnect the power/spark plug prior to adjusting the trimmer line or cutting disc
  • Ensure children and pets are out of the way
  • PPE should include hearing protection eye protection, sturdy shoes or boots and long trousers



  • Ensure you turn the machine off and disconnect the power/spark plug prior to removing any jams
  • Be aware of your hands during operation, and ensure loose clothing is not worn
  • Be aware of the debris from the ejection chute


For more information on tool safety please refer to your tools instruction manuals or refer to the manufacturer.

For further information the following sites may be of use.