Garden Power Tools – How to Use Petrol Strimmers Safely and Ergonomically
The gas-powered strimmer is one of the most useful tools at the disposal of the gardener, but it is also one of the most dangerous. Here are some essential tips for the safe and ergonomic operation of the garden strimmer.
Unless you have a very small backyard with a tiny lawn, a petrol strimmer is infinitely more efficient and even cost-effective in the end than an electric garden tool. For maintaining the edges on a large lawn, whacking the tough weeds around the yard, or for heavy-duty tasks in general, an electric strimmer simply does not have the power to do the job professionally. The trouble is though, that gas-powered strimmers are next to chain saws, probably the most dangerous implement in the gardener’s shed.
*Strimmers endanger the user both immediately and in the long-term. The most obvious threat comes from small objects like pebbles or fragments of glass that can fly at immense velocity after being hit by the strimmer’s nylon cord. Never, under any circumstances, work without industrial standard goggles, and a face mask. Remember that you only have two eyes!
*As with all power tools, but especially with those like strimmers that operate with a two-stroke engine, always protect your ears with industrial standard equipment. It is totally inadequate to stuff cotton wool into your ears. Remember that damage to the eardrums following exposure to high decibel noise is both accumulative and irreversible.
*Always wear working boots and long trousers as these absorb the impact of objects flying at foot and shin height. It might not be as critical as a stone flying into your eye, but it can save you a nasty gash on the foot or leg.
Looking-out for Others
*The strimmer not only endangers the user but anyone else in the vicinity as well. Preferably you should keep people at a distance of at least 15 meters (45ft) while operating the machine. This means that not only should you be focused on your work, but also on what is going on around you. If you see people approaching, (children are often curious and want a closer look) stop, and do not continue until they are at a safe distance.
*Remember that a tiny pebble rocketing at knee-height for an adult, could be at eye-level for a small child. You do not want that on your conscience or be sued for massive damages.
In addition to the immediate danger from missile-like objects, there is the question of long-term damage to various parts of the body, apart from the afore-mentioned ears. You should be aware that heavy use of a strimmer could lead to conditions like tendonitis.
*In order to reduce the possibility of this, it is best to wear heavy-duty gloves that act as “shock-absorbers” to the vibrations of the machine. Also, do not forget that the shoulder strap has not been added by the manufacturer for decoration, but serves the very necessary ergonomic purpose of preventing strain and stress on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Always adjust the strap to the right size, so that it supports the strimmer on the one hand, without causing the neck and shoulder muscles to stretch on the other.
*In this respect, electric strimmers are a lot worse than gas-powered ones, because the motor is usually placed at the front end of the machine, (the nylon cord end) and not at the back as with petrol garden strimmers. This makes the tool top-heavy, a fact that exacerbates the possibility of muscle strains and other forms of mechanical damage that can result in serious conditions like tendonitis.
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