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View Full Version : ZTR claims the life of another LCO


Envy Lawn Service
08-18-2007, 12:36 AM
My neighbor came over today with bad news.

A guy he knows just got killed on his ZTR.

He didn't have all the details yet, but the guy was mowing a site he'd been cutting for over 6 years with the same kind of ZTR, and didn't live to finish this time. Apparently the ZTR lost traction on a slope and went out of control.

At this point, I don't know if it was a crash death or a rollover death.
But it just goes to show how untrustworthy these things are.
Even if you have done something safely a couple of hundred times doesn't mean you will next time.

My guess is that the drought conditions were the variable... hard ground, dry slick grass.

Americal Vet
08-18-2007, 12:42 AM
How tragic. Just another example of how fragile life really is. My prayers go out for the mans family.

I have some slopes I mow that can be classified as very challenging. I don't use a ZTR on the slopes, but a JD Garden Tractor with 4 WD, and weights. On some sections I use the WB.

Let's be careful guys / girls

grassmedics
08-18-2007, 12:43 AM
:( :( Thats crazy, i know there was 1 here in florida a couple weeks ago. He slid a deere ZTR into a lake, it rolled on top of him, and pinned him under for like 5 mins. He died at the hospital a couple of days later. This is why i like the walk behinds better, at least if they get away from you they dont kill you :(

dhardin53
08-18-2007, 05:26 AM
A Illinois State Rep form Pekin Ill was mowing around his pond with his ZTR and flipped into the pond pining him in 3 foot of water. Maybe I should say the late State Rep from Pekin.

Safety should be a full time concern for all LCO but we all take it for granted that accidents wont happen to me..

lawnspecialties
08-18-2007, 07:39 AM
I have a property with a large, steep hill. The part that I can actually mow I pretty much have to climb at a slight angle. I feel very safe except in one respect.

The SuperZ definitely moans when climbing that hill. If the short "drive" belt (the one turning the pumps) was to break under the pressure, would I roll down this long hill uncontrollably or would the pumps grind to a halt? :confused:

MANOFSTIHL
08-18-2007, 08:57 AM
you would roll unless you grabbed the parking brake

Premo Services
08-18-2007, 09:21 AM
you would roll unless you grabbed the parking brake

BUT if you grab the brake you will be sliding all the way down.
ztr's have their place and that is not on hills:nono: :nono: :nono: .....Thats why they make walkbehind mowers

Branchland
08-18-2007, 09:35 AM
I have a property with a large, steep hill. The part that I can actually mow I pretty much have to climb at a slight angle. I feel very safe except in one respect.

The SuperZ definitely moans when climbing that hill. If the short "drive" belt (the one turning the pumps) was to break under the pressure, would I roll down this long hill uncontrollably or would the pumps grind to a halt? :confused:



The drive belt broke with my wife mowing a pretty step hill last year. She rolled uncontrollably down the hill into a brush thicket. She said she thought it was going to roll over, that the mower went around in circles while going down the hill. Luckly she was ok, but it scared her from mowing steep hills. I still do though. Steeper than what she was on.

Espacesverts
08-18-2007, 10:12 AM
It's why 4wd frontmount mower still have their place..

Eric D
08-18-2007, 10:37 AM
A death in the line of work is sad and it shouldn’t happen. There are things folks can do to protect one’s self. It drives me nuts to see people cutting without the roll over protection equipment system (ROPES) in the full up position and without the seatbelt securely on. There are a lot of folks that use the same philosophy while driving their truck or car. You will also hear them tell you they want to be able to jump clear and the seatbelt will keep them from doing that. The fact of the matter you are more likely to be crushed by the equipment trying to jump, then if you have the seat belt on and stay in the seat. I have heard many folks say that the ROPES get in the way of low laying tree branches. Maybe the trees need to be trimmed or use the WB.

Bottom line, you need to make use of all the safety equipment. It works, but you have to use it. It can be a real pain at times to take that extra five minutes to use it, but at least you will have a chance to do it again, unlike some that decided to save a few minutes only to loose their life.

I am truly sorry to here of another death and how it affects the family of the one lost. There really isn’t any excuse why this happen. It could have been avoided.

JMHO - Eric D

swingset
08-18-2007, 11:32 AM
At this point, I don't know if it was a crash death or a rollover death.
But it just goes to show how untrustworthy these things are.
Even if you have done something safely a couple of hundred times doesn't mean you will next time.

How many automobile related deaths were there today? I'd bet in the high hundreds. How many ZTR deaths can you remember off the top of your head? 20? 10? 100?

I don't think ZTR's are inherently dangerous.

More people die falling down every year than die on mowing equipment.

Envy Lawn Service
08-18-2007, 10:09 PM
How many automobile related deaths were there today? I'd bet in the high hundreds. How many ZTR deaths can you remember off the top of your head? 20? 10? 100?

I don't think ZTR's are inherently dangerous.

More people die falling down every year than die on mowing equipment.


Both bad analogies...


Why?

1- ZTR's are inheirently dangerous.

2- When placed in proper perspective for danger consideration... things are compaired with other 'LIKE-KIND' things in order to properly access rather or not they are more dangerous, considering what they are. In this case they are mowers... and comparing them to other mowers, they are a LOT more dangerous.

3- I would venture to say that more people have been killed by ZTR crashes than any other type of mower accident... especially in recent years... and that says a lot considering the short life of the ZTR so far.

JayD
08-18-2007, 10:28 PM
Some one needs to come out with safety videos that shows just how easy it is to happen.

swingset
08-18-2007, 10:33 PM
ZTR's are not inherently dangerous. That's absurd.

They are more likely to be used in a manner which is unsafe, that is what makes them dangerous....but by themselves they are VASTLY less danerous than a push mower or walkbehind, both of which expose extremities to the deck in a way that a ZTR is incapable of unless YOU the OPERATOR put the ZTR in a place it was not meant to be. You can't be under the deck of a ZTR, unless you have done something incredibly stupid. You can slip on almost any grass, however, and get near the blades of a push or WB mower.

Cars are a good analogy. Why? Because like Z's they are not inherently dangerous. Why do so many die in them? Because operating them can be dangerous due to traffic, unforseen interference, or the speeds at which you are traveling. In one sense, you have much less control over your safety in a motor vehicle than a mower. There's only me on the grass, not 20 other boobs on their ZTR's.

If you operate a ZTR safely, on relatively flat ground mowing at a safe operating speed, you would have to be INCREDIBLY good at self-harm to die on a ZTR. Show me, give me a link, tell me a credible story of a ZTR death that wasn't the operator at fault or defying safe operation.

Sorry, I have been on many powered machines, and the ZTR ranks close to the mobility scooter at Walmart as far as inherent risks of the machine itself are concerned.

lawnpro724
08-18-2007, 10:49 PM
Thats why I have always used a Tractor or walkbehind on steep hills. I see this happen all the time. Just the other day I seen another lawn company mowing on a hill that had to be more than sixty degree pitch. I wouldn't have tried to mow it with anything but a trimmer or 21 and it would have been hard with a 21".

Envy Lawn Service
08-18-2007, 10:59 PM
ZTR's are not inherently dangerous. That's absurd.

They are more likely to be used in a manner which is unsafe, that is what makes them dangerous....but by themselves they are VASTLY less danerous than a push mower or walkbehind, both of which expose extremities to the deck in a way that a ZTR is incapable of unless YOU the OPERATOR put the ZTR in a place it was not meant to be. You can't be under the deck of a ZTR, unless you have done something incredibly stupid. You can slip on almost any grass, however, and get near the blades of a push or WB mower.


Comparitivly... which type of mower would you say has lost control, resulting in the death of the most operators?

I'd say that 99% of ZTR crash deaths occured while the operator was doing something they felt was perfectly safe until it was too late.



Cars are a good analogy. Why? Because like Z's they are not inherently dangerous. Why do so many die in them? Because operating them can be dangerous due to traffic, unforseen interference, or the speeds at which you are traveling. In one sense, you have much less control over your safety in a motor vehicle than a mower. There's only me on the grass, not 20 other boobs on their ZTR's.

True in that sense...

But it's still a bad analogy.
It's not the same like-kind item.

When we have a car/truck/suv hit the market that proves to be dangerous well beyond other vehicles, people are screaming bloody murder. Like Corvairs... and whatever type of little jeep thingy that was tippy and easy to turn over... etc...

If you operate a ZTR safely, on relatively flat ground mowing at a safe operating speed, you would have to be INCREDIBLY good at self-harm to die on a ZTR. Show me, give me a link, tell me a credible story of a ZTR death that wasn't the operator at fault or defying safe operation.

Sorry, I have been on many powered machines, and the ZTR ranks close to the mobility scooter at Walmart as far as inherent risks of the machine itself are concerned.

The world is not 'relatively flat' everywhere though.
I'd say that most people who die on them have no idea what they were doing was putting their life so in danger... and I bet almost every member here with a ZTR that doesn't live in the 'flat lands' puts their life on the line every day.

I know that I for one probably do... and myself and the others that do probably do it for the same reasons. It sucks to have to choose between safety and gambling... because of business/market pressure... and after a while, one starts to feel 'safe' having done fine at it.

Then one day it slips up and bites you...

Eric D
08-18-2007, 11:28 PM
1- ZTR's are inheirently dangerous.


Envy,

I am struggling to understand the meaning of your comment that zero turns are “Inherently Dangerous”. I can better understand that the misuse of a zero turn can be inherently dangerous.

A guy at work a few months back lost the tip of his finger using a torque wrench. He had his attention focus on the dial of the torque wrench trying to get just the right value. He hadn’t noticed that the socket he had chosen was a twelve point that had some wear. The socket slipped causing him to ram his hand onto a sharp part on the engine.

Would you classify a torque wrench as an “inherently dangerous” wrench when compared to other wrenches? I’m sure he isn’t the first to be hurt in this manner.

My point, most, if not all of these so-called “accidents” could be avoided. The definition of accident is “anything that happens by chance without an apparent cause”. If you backtrack the incident you can find a cause. If it is equipment failure this needs to be looked into to make sure it doesn’t happen again with other like units. If it’s weather or cutting conditions then the operator needs to know what is ok or not to cut base on the current conditions.

It is sad when someone gets hurt. What is even sadder is when it really didn’t have to happen. Operators need to be trained as to how best to use the cutting equipment and the importance of the safety items on it.

JMHO Eric D

lawnprosteveo
08-18-2007, 11:38 PM
I used to have a Toro Z...it was a great mower. But with all the slopes, hills, and retaining walls we mow, I really felt uncomfortable with my wife using it. Even with the ROPS I just didnt feel safe with her on it. We have a stander style mower now...it feels much more stable on hills and slopes. It also feels like you could get off and away from it if you had to. I agree that walk behinds are probably the safest though.

Envy Lawn Service
08-19-2007, 12:11 AM
Envy,

I am struggling to understand the meaning of your comment that zero turns are “Inherently Dangerous”. I can better understand that the misuse of a zero turn can be inherently dangerous.

A guy at work a few months back lost the tip of his finger using a torque wrench. He had his attention focus on the dial of the torque wrench trying to get just the right value. He hadn’t noticed that the socket he had chosen was a twelve point that had some wear. The socket slipped causing him to ram his hand onto a sharp part on the engine.

Would you classify a torque wrench as an “inherently dangerous” wrench when compared to other wrenches? I’m sure he isn’t the first to be hurt in this manner.

My point, most, if not all of these so-called “accidents” could be avoided. The definition of accident is “anything that happens by chance without an apparent cause”. If you backtrack the incident you can find a cause. If it is equipment failure this needs to be looked into to make sure it doesn’t happen again with other like units. If it’s weather or cutting conditions then the operator needs to know what is ok or not to cut base on the current conditions.

It is sad when someone gets hurt. What is even sadder is when it really didn’t have to happen. Operators need to be trained as to how best to use the cutting equipment and the importance of the safety items on it.

JMHO Eric D

No, what I mean is... they literally INHERIT danger to the operator from their design.

The traction drive and steering are one in the same, like all zero turn lawn equipment, and there is no control over the front tires.

The issue is that when something happens to transfer weight off the drive (and steering) tires, it results in a total loss of control because there is nothing available to counteract simple gravity... and on a lot of machines, this happens suddenly all at once with no warning. I have personally owned one that was on and off like a lightswitch. There was no way to really judge what was OK, and every time I lost control on it, I had no idea it was coming.

No traction and therefore no steering and no brakes.... no fun, and dangerous.

I wouldn't bitc# about it... except I feel that it really doesn't have to be this way.
I think the machines could be designed safer and almost with more ability than we have nerve.

Eric D
08-19-2007, 12:36 AM
ENVY

I have used many different types of cutting equipment over the years and I personally feel the zero turn is one of the safest out of all of them. Manufactures have worked hard to make them safe. My current unit has a number of built in safety switches that do a number of things. If I come out the seat the unit shuts down. If the unit rolls over a level switch shuts it down. The list goes on and on

Things I don’t understand is why do I need a sticker on the deck that shows if I place my hand under it while cutting I could sever my fingers? I haven’t figured how I could get my hand down there while cutting, not that I would want to!

As the operator of the cutting equipment I know if I were to cut on wet grass going down hill I stand a good chance of loosing control. This could happen not only on my zero, but even my tractor. The tractor doesn’t have front brakes and if the back wheels loose traction the back end will come around and you can do nothing about it. I would be interested in hearing your suggestions on how to improve these units so they will work in any condition. . Maybe the manufactures should add a device that detects moisture and if the grass were wet it would shut the unit off? It would make the unit safer, wouldn’t it?

JMHO Eric D

Envy Lawn Service
08-19-2007, 01:08 AM
All the mowers have the safety switch stuff on them... industry standard...

As for my suggestion on how to improve them...

Most MFG's need to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch on R&D.

A big priority for MFG's to improve the safety should be to work on traction and such to reduce loss of control.


It's like this... I'm glad for ROPS as standard equipment on many machines.
But to me, they should have had them anyways...
And they were added as a band-aid fix to reduce liability...

And truth is, it's pretty hard to turn over most ZTR's.
I'd say almost all of them are turned over during loss of control, and the rest from climbing something too steep for them to handle.

You can't stop bad judgement from people trying to climb straight up something too steep when the mower might climb until it rolls over... that's agreed, and ROPS are a good answer there...

But why not look at the ROOT CAUSE of most fatalities and work toward improving that.

swingset
08-19-2007, 10:31 AM
But why not look at the ROOT CAUSE of most fatalities and work toward improving that.

I agree. Here is the root cause of EVERY ZTR death I've ever heard of:

http://home.c2i.net/kaaby/brain4.jpg

Let's get to work on keeping this thing from putting the Z where it's not supposed to go. THAT is what is dangerous about the ZTR design, not the machine.

Eric D
08-19-2007, 10:36 AM
Envy,

You are really confusing me with some of your comments. At one point you say,

It's like this... I'm glad for ROPS as standard equipment on many machines.
But to me, they should have had them anyways...
And they were added as a band-aid fix to reduce liability...

Then, in a few more words you say,

ROPS are a good answer there

I believe we agree that ROPS is a good thing. I believe it was implemented to protect the operator. The operator bares the responsible to use it correctly. That means putting it up to full height and wearing a seat belt. I know that some folks will not put the ROPS in the full upright position and that some will not use the seat belt. Does this mean in your opinion that the manufactures should make the ROPS so it is always up and that the mower should not move unless the operator puts their seat belt on? Should auto manufactures make car so you can’t move them unless everyone has their seat belts on?? Where do you draw the line as to operator responsibility and manufactures?

Say a manufacture came up with a vacuum that allowed a zero turn to have 100% traction all the time in all weather conditions. If it cost $10,000 over the normal cost of the zero would you buy it? Do you now of a car that maintains 100% traction in all weather conditions including snow and ice?

Envy, I believe we agree that if there was a cost affective way to save lives that we should do it. The most affective in my opinion is operator education on what conditions could ad risk to using their equipment. I think you may agree that zero turns can be as much of a challenge to operate safely when compared to operating a car on the highway. We require drivers license to operate a car. Should we require operator license for zero turns? I’m sure the Secretary of State would welcome the added revenue.

If you want to know what the Consumer Product Safety Commission as to say about safety on riding mowers check out this LINK (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/588.html). To paraphrase their findings, the number one safety issue is blade contact. The second is loss of stability. The most common cause of death is the machine tipping over. 95 people including Joe homeowner lost their life to riding lawn mowers during 2001-2003. In these deaths the majority involve “young children” falling under or being run over.

I believe the manufacturers have done a good job of making changes to follow the Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements. If you disagree with this I would suggest voicing your concerns with them. This is the best place to have new safety measure implemented.

Regards,

Eric D

swingset
08-19-2007, 10:54 AM
95 people including Joe homeowner lost their life to riding lawn mowers during 2001-2003. In these deaths the majority involve “young children” falling under or being run over

95 people in 2 years?

That makes deaths on mowers practically a non-issue, as far as the numbers go. I did some quick death rate searches on google.

100 people die every year from fire ants. Yes, fire ants.

126 die every year from candles.

89 die from lightning strikes.

714 die from recreational boating accidents.

151 die as a result of police negligence.


That puts mowers on the "not really that dangerous" list, statistically.

Eric D
08-19-2007, 11:39 AM
95 people in 2 years?

That puts mowers on the "not really that dangerous" list, statistically.
SwingSet,

You made some very interesting observations. Also keep in mind that out of those 95 deaths the largest percentage was bystanders, like children, not the operator!

As you point out earlier, brains are the root cause. Why in the world do people feel it is ok to cut grass with children around? I just don’t understand this.

Eric D

razor1
08-19-2007, 01:13 PM
Anyone ever catch the roll bar on a low tree branch etc.? :dizzy:
I know a guy who wheelied a Lazer Z that way. (no it wasn't me)

Have you ever wanted to switch off a safety feature? :nono: (at least temporarily)

MOturkey
08-19-2007, 02:56 PM
I personally feel ZTR's are, as a whole, safer than conventional type mowers. People, including me, push them to the limit, most times with no problems, sometimes, with catastrophic results. But, just like the insurance commercial on TV, people do stupid things. Have you ever seen someone mow a ditch with a conventional rider or tractor type mower with one leg on the ground to keep it from tipping over? Or, same scenario, walking beside it? Sure you have, me to.

I strongly suspect that a good portion of accidents or loss of control, even when they don't result in any injury, just jangled nerves, are simply the by-product of laziness. We KNOW it is safer to do that ditch with the WB or 21, but jeez, it is hot and it will save so much time and work doing it with the Z. I'm just as guilty of this as the next guy.

Same with larger slopes. To bid competitevely, I'm sure many of you need to use the speed of the ZTR instead of the slower methods of cutting the grass. And, in most cases, you are fine. It is that one time that it doesn't work out right that is the problem. Working around water with a ZTR just doesn't seem a good mix. The friend that I worked for before going into business for myself mowed a couple or three acre pond on government land that was used for fishing classes, and group fishing days. Anyhow, some of the slope was pretty steep, but the slope under the water wasn't too severe, so there probably wasn't much actual danger of drowning, unless the machine tipped over, which wasn't likely, but he did have to drag his out of the water a couple of times! I never did, because I didn't push it quite to the limit as much as he tended to do.

Actually, I think the only thing that actually makes the machines safer, is lowering the center of gravity and widening the stance so that rollover is less likely. I think most manufacturers have already done this. A slide is not apt to be life threatening unless you end up in the water, or go over something like a retaining wall or drop-off, as long as the machine stays upright, whether or not you are using a ROPS. With a slide, your pride, and perhaps your underwear are more likely to be the only casualties. :)