If you're planning to mow the lawns before everyone heads over for a BBQ this summer, make sure you take the time to think about the consequences of a rush job.

In the past five years, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has paid out more than $20 million of taxpayer money to thousands of New Zealanders who've been injured lawn-mowing, figures provided to the Herald show.

More than 21,000 people injured themselves or others while mowing the lawns between January 2015 and October 2019.

Nearly 140 of them needed amputations.

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Soft tissue injuries - including damaging muscles, tendons or ligaments - were the most common type of injury, making up 15,848 claims.

But thousands of victims also suffered infected wounds, and hundreds had burns and dislocated limbs.

ACC injury prevention specialist Kirsten Malpas said most New Zealanders would be looking forward to relaxing over the summer break, but when it came to chores like mowing the lawns, people couldn't afford to be complacent about safety.

"Thousands of Kiwis are injured every year using power tools and many of those injuries involve lawnmowers."

ACC's advice when mowing lawns was to always wear closed shoes, preferably non-slip boots, protective eyewear and hearing protection that fitted comfortably.

"Make sure any safety guards are in place before mowing and store your lawnmower safely out of reach of children when you're finished," Malpas said.

Men in their 50s accounted for the most injury claims during the five-year period: 3075. Numbers for men in their 40s and 60s were also high.

Though authorities advise against children under the age of 12 operating a push lawnmower, 467 children under 10 have needed an ACC payout because of lawnmower-related injuries in the past five years. ACC says some of those claims could be as a result of someone else mowing the lawn.

Auckland has the highest number of injury claims (9210), followed by Waikato (3766),
then Canterbury (3200) and Wellington (1717). However, ACC says population will be a contributing factor to these numbers.

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ACC payouts have included cover for medical treatment, support for independence, rehabilitation and weekly compensation for loss of income.

Safety tips

• Children under the age of 12 should not operate a push lawnmower.

• Wear eye and hearing protection as stones and twigs in the garden can become projectile missiles.

• Pick up garden debris before mowing.

• Read the mower instructions to prevent disaster.