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https://web-gmazza.rhcloud.com/blog/date/20170609 Friday June 09, 2017

New OSHA regulation needed?

Today for the first time I visited Old Fort Niagara located in Niagara County, New York State, where the Niagara River and Lake Ontario meet. Beautiful place, fort and scenery amazing, highly recommend. Saw something I didn't like though at the end of my visit -- there is one long and rather steep embankment that Old Fort Niagara maintains as a grassy lawn that apparently receives regular mowing. The embankment was to a degree that the two lawnmowing employees using push mowers seemed to be having trouble mowing it laterally (as gravity would presumably cause a mower to slide down to the bottom), and so I saw them instead push the mower up from the bottom to the top, such as that if they were to slip and lose their balance and fall while pushing it upwards, the unspeakable could happen.

Granted, I only watched for a minute or so before being alarmed, so pushing (well, driving, as it appeared the wheels turned on their own) the mower upwards may not have been the regular procedure that they follow, but just that of a few unfortunate edge cases, but after the second consecutive time seeing one employee do this I signaled my concern to an information guide and we then saw the second employee do the same thing. The guide said he would bring that issue up to management, and to further play it safe I raised my concern separately to two other employees on my way out. Even with dry conditions as we had today that would be questionable, but what if the grass was wet and slippery?

When a organization chooses to maintain a slope that steep, perhaps OSHA should come in and put in some safety regulations for employees asked to mow things such as that. My suggestion would be that any slope that is so steep that a person cannot cut laterally across it needs to be cut with a non-motorized grass cutter instead. Perhaps we can be more specific, saying anything above (say) 45 degrees must be non-motorized. Such a rule will give organizations the option of power mowing below 45 degrees, manual clippers of live grass above 45 degrees, or choosing options that don't require mowing (such as ivy or artificial grass) if they find slopes greater than 45 degrees to be the most attractive but don't wish to deal with any reduced effectiveness of the manual clippers.

The non-motorized tools are perhaps not as good at cutting everything, but any missed grass blade is all but certain to be cut the next time around, meaning one is not going to have stray grass blades several inches longer than others due to them being continually missed. And as for some mechanical mowers leaving the clippings while the real ones pick it up, an argument can be made that that's where they should remain anyway, instead of filling landfills, but even if not they can always be manually raked and collected afterwards. Alternatively, any concerns that it wouldn't be historically accurate for Old Fort Niagara to switch to ivy, well, it's certainly not historically accurate that the grass on those embankments was maintained impeccably either. Ultimately, we're here to see a fort, not oooh and aaah a gorgeously maintained baseball field, and we should be expected to make modern day adjustments for the safety of all.

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