With heat exposure, hazardous equipment and repetitive hard work, being a landscaper can be a dangerous profession.
It is always best to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place and there are several health and safety procedures which a landscaper should take into account to maintain his/her own well-being.
Here we will discuss some of the safety risks which landscapers can face on a daily basis, as well as the ways that they can be prevented.
Safety and health exposure risks
There are a number of hazards that can occur on the job. As a landscaper you are often working in diverse environments where there is the possibility of being exposed to harmful chemicals, hazardous weather or dangerous tools and equipment that can result in an injury.
Incidents can occur at any time while on the job, including cuts, amputations, slips and falls. In fact, it is estimated that around 200 landscaper service workers die each year from workplace injuries. For this reason, it is extremely important that all landscapers are trained and wear the proper personal protection equipment that is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Health and safety tips
1. Wear the appropriate head safety gear
It is important that the appropriate safety gear is worn at all times while on the job. This is one of the main reasons why wearing hard hats is not a luxury today, but rather a necessity. OSHA requires head protection to be worn when employees are working below other workers or machinery, in or under trees or in other situations where debris may fall from above.
A head injury from a falling objects on the job could result in a traumatic brain injury, or even death. In fact, in 2012 there were more than 65,000 cases involving head injuries at work, while in 2015, 1,020 workers died on a sustained job from a head injury.
2. Dress for visibility and safety
Vehicle accidents are a main cause of injuries of landscapers. Because of this it is always important to wear visible clothing to ensure that you’re noticeable when on the jobsite. Be sure to use reflective, brightly colored vests so that you are visible to drivers. If working within 15 feet of the traveled way, a warning sign should be placed on the shoulder of the road.
Depending on the job, it’s important to wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Good footwear is crucial as it can prevent slips as well as protect toes from extreme temperatures.
When working in the summer sun, OSHA advises employees to wear loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect from ultraviolet radiation. Take care that the clothing isn’t too baggy when working around machinery like wood chippers, as it can get caught.
3. Maintain tools
Aside from getting a cleaner cut on the grass or hedges, by keeping tools sharp landscapers can avoid repetitive stress injuries. Allowing the blades to become dull requires more force to get the job done and could cause unnecessary strain on the user.
When it comes time to repair equipment or sharpen blades it is important to remember to turn the power off before working on the equipment. Some even goes as far as to suggest removing the battery to prevent any accidental starts.
Attempting to start repairs before the blades have stopped moving can result in injuries such as amputations.
4. Be aware of your machinery
The machinery that landscapers use every day is extremely dangerous, if not used properly, and can cause several severe injuries if operated incorrectly. Workers should be fully aware of how to use machines such as mowers, trenchers and tillers before actually using them.
It does not matter if a landscaper is planting a tree, cutting a tree down, performing lawn maintenance or installing an irrigation system, the worker must be well equipped with the knowledge of how to perform his/her activities safely.
Safety measures should never be taken for granted. OSHA’s official site provides the guidelines, requirements and regulations landscapers are expected to follow to ensure that workers maintain safe work environments and don’t sustain injuries while on the job.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Dennis Kaminski. Kaminski is the owner of Safetymart. SafetyMart helps customers ranging from private businesses to government/municipal agencies, both large and small to address their safety needs and requirements.