Grass trimmer and brushcutter use: safety tips and information

Safety is key when using your brushcutter or grass trimmer. Learn about the equipment and procedures needed to protect yourself and others.

A man wearing appropriate protective clothing working in long grass with a STIH FS 240 petrol grass trimmer

Protective Equipment

Power tools such as grass trimmers and brushcutters enable you to work easily and more efficiently – but it is essential that you have the right safety equipment and follow the appropriate procedures when using them. You should always wear personal protective equipment when using your grass trimmer or brushcutter, including safety glasses, face protection and safety boots – your grass trimmer user manual will include full details. Familiarise yourself with your grass trimmer before you use it for the first time, and make sure it is in perfect condition before each use so that you can work safely. You can ask your STIHL dealer to help prepare your grass trimmer for first use, as well as to advise you on appropriate safety equipment. Please remember that personal protective equipment is not a replacement for safe working methods.

Preparing to use your grass trimmer safely

Forestry worker with safety equipment and STIHL grass trimmer wearing an Advance X-treem forestry harness in a forest

As with all power tools, preparation is key when using a grass trimmer. First read carefully through the operating instructions for your grass trimmer. Then ensure your working area is safe, observing all safety procedures necessary to prevent damage or injury.

Grass trimmer safety: never use in enclosed spaces

Grass trimmers begin generating toxic emissions from the moment the engine starts. These gases may be odourless and invisible, so it’s important to only use your grass trimmer outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor spaces. For your safety, you should never run your grass trimmer or brushcutter in an enclosed space, even for brief maintenance tasks: always make sure there is sufficient ventilation. Check your working area, including under foot, as uneven ground and plants can be stumbling hazards. While using your grass trimmer, be aware of any potential trip hazards in the grass, such as tree stumps and roots. 

Maintain a safety radius: When using a brushcutter or grass trimmer, make sure that there are no animals or other people, particularly children, within a 15 meter radius, as there is a risk of serious injury from flying stones and other small objects. You must also maintain the same safety distance from objects such as vehicles and windows while using your grass trimmer, to protect them from damage.

Inspect your grass trimmer before use

Always read the user manual so you know how to use your grass trimmer safely

  • Check the fuel system of your grass trimmer or brushcutter for leaks before you start work, particularly the visible parts: fuel cap, hose connections and manual fuel pump if you have one. Do not start the engine if you find any leaks or damage, as there is a risk of fire which could endanger your safety and that of others.
  • You must be able to easily move the slide control or stop switch on your grass trimmer to STOP or 0. 
  • You should also check that the throttle lever lock and throttle trigger move smoothly. The throttle trigger should automatically spring back into the idle position. 
  • The spark plug boot must be secure to avoid any risk of fire.
  • The cutting tool or attachment of your grass trimmer must be installed correctly and in perfect condition.
  • Check for damage and wear to safety features such as the guard for the cutting tool and the rider plate. 
  • If the guard is damaged or the rider plate is worn you must replace them, as your grass trimmer is no longer safe to use.
  • Do not modify your grass trimmer’s operating or safety equipment in any way. 
  • The handles must be dry and free from oil and dirt. 
  • Adjust the harness and handle(s) to your size so that you can work safely with your grass trimmer.
  • In the event of damage or leaks, contact a STIHL dealer and have your grass trimmer repaired.

User manual and product brochures

If you're looking for the operating instructions for your grass trimmer or brushcutter  you can download the information you need free of charge from the relevant product page.

The start-up sequence for your STIHL grass trimmer depends on which model you have. You can find out what you need to do in the operating instructions or in our Starting your grass trimmer article.

A woman wearing protective equipment and gloves starts a STIHL FS 38 petrol grass trimmer that is on a path in a garden

Safety in your working area

  • For safety, ensure you refuel your grass trimmer in a spot at least 3 metres away from your working area.
  • Check the condition of your working area and look out for potential obstacles such as branches and roots. For your safety and protection, you need to work on a level, solid surface to ensure you do not slip or fall. 
  • Always keep an escape route clear for emergencies while using a grass trimmer or brush cutter. Slippery, uneven or icy surfaces are dangerous, so try to avoid these if possible.
  • For the safety of others, ensure that there is no one within a 15-metre radius while you are using your grass trimmer.

Summary: grass trimmer safety

  • Carefully read the operating instructions for your grass trimmer and make sure you have understood them.
  • Check that the grass trimmer is working safely.
  • Ensure your working area is safe.
  • Keep children, animals and other people at an appropriate safety distance while you work.
  • Ensure nearby objects are not at risk from flying stones.
  • Take extra safety considerations when refuelling your grass trimmer: do so at least 3 metres from you working area, particularly if using a petrol can.
  • Make sure there is someone around who can help if necessary.