Safety watch: Slips, trips & falls

Updated Apr 3, 2024

Safety Watch_Total Landscape CareSafety tips for working around slick areas

The accident: A maintenance crew arrives at a residential property while the morning dew is still on the grass. The team splits up to tackle the flowerbeds, shrubs and lawn. One crew member is mowing a sloped area when he notices a large limb in his path. He turns the mower off and quickly steps onto wet grass clippings. He slips and falls backward, hitting his head on the ground. He sustains a concussion and is hospitalized.

The bottom line: Slips, trips and falls cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths each year, and the main reason for these accidents is the walking surface. In most cases, these injuries can be prevented. Here are safety practices to help avoid slips, trips and falls.

  • Wet grass and clippings can be slick, so slow down on muddy or uneven terrain. For steep slopes, walk sideways to improve traction.
  • Wear boots that have good traction. Inspect footwear, and replace shoes when the sole has a smooth area larger than two pennies.
  • If applying liquids, watch for wet areas, and don’t run.
  • Constantly look for hazards such as holes in the ground, bumps or unexpected changes in the terrain. If at the site for the first time, walk the grounds to note any objects – such as utilities or stumps – that could cause someone to trip or damage the equipment.
  • Clean up spills immediately and mark off the area until it is dry.
  • Keep cords and other clutter away from walkways. If a piece of equipment isn’t being used, wrap up the cord neatly and place it out of the way. If in the office, cords can be secured with tape or cord strips.
  • When carrying large objects, have another crew member help point out obstacles, such as elevation changes, steps or new surfaces. Hold the object to the side so you can better see where you’re walking.
  • Look for icy patches when working in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Hold onto the equipment if entering/exiting a machine around snow or ice.
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