Shopping for a new mower? Selecting the machine that best supports operators’ safety and well-being—but also fits within the budget and meets other priorities—can pay off. Contractors should consider these questions:

Are the controls easy to use?
When shopping, try all of the touch points on the unit. Are the controls accessible? Can they be easily operated? Is there enough room to maneuver them? Are they easy to use freely or do they put stress on the body in any way?

Is the machine adjustable?
Can the seat, standing platform, sunshades, controls and other features be moved to an ideal position for both small and large operators? Can these features be easily adjusted? Keep in mind that people differ not only in width and girth but also in the size of their hands and the length of their arms. Make sure all controls are within the reach of adults of any size.

Is it comfortable?
Do the seats, grips and other parts of the machine that are in contact with the operator feel comfortable? Remember that subtle differences can make a big difference in comfort and productivity.

Is anything potentially irritating?
Sun glare may not be bothersome on a 10-minute test-drive, but after eight hours of operation, it could turn into a real headache. Pay special attention to noise and vibration levels in addition to textures, noises and any other physical features that could bother users. Also, try to imagine operating the machine in different weather conditions, such as heat, rain or wind. Is there anything that might cause problems at those times?

What about creature comforts?
Proper hydration can make or break productivity. Does the machine have spaces for water bottles and large drink containers? Does it offer any protection from sun exposure? Does interaction with the machine feel natural?

How easy is getting on and off of the machine?
Being able to do this quickly and easily is important for safety as well as productivity, especially when servicing small properties or ones that are likely to present obstacles for operators.

How will the mower be used?
Different jobs call for different ergonomic features. For instance, on big, open areas of flat ground, a sit-down mower may offer the most comfort. On hilly terrain with a lot of shocks and bumps, a stand-on unit may be much easier on the body throughout the day.

What standards did the manufacturer follow?
U.S. vibration standards are not as strict as those in the EU. If vibration reduction is a priority, consider seeking out mower models that meet European noise and vibration limits.

Remember that each operator responds differently to the demands of the job. Be sure to gather input from operators to help make the best purchasing decisions.