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Landscaping - Grass Trimmers and Brush Cutters

What are some general tips when using grass trimmers and brush cutters?

Make sure that you are trained in the proper use of this equipment. Rotating cutting tools can throw objects or cut the operator.

  • Read, understand, and follow instructions in the manufacturer's operating manual.
  • Hold the unit firmly with both hands.
  • Ensure that the cutting part is adjusted properly and is tight.
  • Replace bent, warped, damaged or dull cutting apparatus.
  • Check that the throttle springs back to idle position.
  • Select equipment with anti-vibration components.
Hold the unit firmly with both hands

There are many tips in other Landscaping OSH Answers documents.

What clothing and gear should I wear when using this equipment?


  • sturdy and well-fitting overalls, jeans or long pants,
  • heavy-duty, non-slip gloves,
  • safety boots with non-slip soles,
  • safety goggles, or face screen and safety glasses, and
  • hearing protection (muffs or plugs).

How do I safely use grass trimmers and brush cutters?


  • Make sure that shields, guards, and other safety devices are in place and working properly.
  • Replace or tighten all loose or damaged parts or guards.
  • Make sure muffler is in good condition. In dry weather, use a fire-safe muffler.
  • Keep people away from starting and operating areas.
  • Clear the work area of stones, glass, metal and debris.
  • Refuel the engine before starting work while the engine is cool. If refuelling is required before the job is completed, wait for the engine to cool.


  • If using an electric grass trimmer, follow applicable electrical safety procedures described in the OSH Answers document, Powered Hand Tools - Basic Safety for Electric Tools.
  • Start the unit on firm ground or other solid surfaces in an open area.
  • Maintain good balance and a secure footing when operating.
  • Adjust harness and hand grip to suit work positions.
  • Use unit at ground level only.
  • Shut off engine before cleaning out clogged or stuck cutter.
  • Stop the engine before putting cutter down.
  • Disconnect the spark plug when the equipment is left unattended.
  • Secure cutter to prevent fuel spillage and damage during transport.
  • Keep the cutter tool covered with the carrying guard.

What should I avoid when using this equipment?

  • Do not leave running tool unattended.
  • Do not wear short pants or short sleeves.
  • Do not use rigid blades in stony areas.
  • Do not overreach. Keep proper footing and balance at all times.
  • Do not repair damaged attachments - discard them.

What are some tips when using leaf blowers?

Leaf blowers can throw objects which can be hazardous to both the operator and others.

  • Always plan your work before using a leaf blower. Clear the area of all people, pets and objects from around your work area (have a safety circle of approximately 10 metres or 30 feet around you).
  • Always wear eye protection when operating a leaf blower – even small stones can blind a person.
  • Hearing protection is recommended.
  • Always wear a mask in dusty or dirty areas, or where dampness and decay may have created conditions for mould growth. Mould spores are an inhalation hazard.
  • Always start and run the unit in an upright position.
  • Never operate the blower without the tubing.
  • Always direct the debris away from people, animals, glass and solid objects that could cause the debris to rebound or ricochet.
  • Never use the blower to spread or mist chemicals, fertilizers or other toxic substances.
  • Never use the blower from ladders, trees, rooftops or other unstable surfaces.

Document last updated on January 31, 2008
Document confirmed current on March 1, 2016

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.