Articles

Cultivating Landscaping and Horticulture Safety

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring is the time of year when many companies and individuals begin planning and preparing to landscape their businesses, streets, parks, schools, homes, and other green spaces. While landscaping can enhance the aesthetics of an environment, the work involved has potential hazards and can lead to injury if proper safety precautions are not followed.

Landscaping and horticultural service workers are at risk of exposure to chemicals, noise, machinery, lifting, construction, motor vehicle traffic, and extreme weather conditions. Companies or individuals employing people involved in landscaping and horticultural service work must ensure they are properly educated and trained for assignments. These workers must clearly understand the reasonably anticipated exposures and hazards of their work assignments and the steps necessary to adequately protect them from these risks.

The best method involves telling and showing your employees what you want done, then having them demonstrate what you want done to confirm they understand the assignment.

This article helps identify potential hazards and possible solutions to specific activities within the landscape and horticultural services industry.

Soil Preparation and Grading

Soil preparation is the process of preparing the existing soil material by loosening the sub-grade and mixing in soil conditioners such as topsoil, humus, and fertilizer to achieve a quality of soil needed for planting or landscaping. Grading is the process of moving soil to desired elevations or designed contours.

Soil Preparation and Grading
Primary Hazards Solutions
Equipment accidents Train and certify operators and laborers
Slips, trips—uneven terrain Wear boots with traction soles
Lifting-related injuries Get help lifting; lift safely
Vehicle accidents hauling equipment Train and certify drivers in operating motor vehicles towing trailers
Cuts and amputations Stay clear of operating tiller blades and use caution when performing maintenance
Hearing loss Wear appropriate ear protection

 

Irrigation

The process of installing and maintaining irrigation lines has specific exposures such as contact with hazardous materials (e.g., glues, cleaners) and exposure to excavation and trenches.

Irrigation
Primary Hazards Solutions
Glues, primers, cleaners Wear protective gloves
Amputation Inspect equipment and stay clear of trencher blades
Electrocution Call for utility locations

 

Hardscape Construction

The construction of retaining walls, hard-surface patios, decks and walkways, water features, wood construction, etc. may result in injuries from saw operation, lifting, slips, trips, and power equipment noise.

Hardscape Construction
Primary Hazards Solutions
Cuts and amputations Saw and chainsaw training; ensure equipment safeguards are in place and functional
Hearing loss Wear ear protection
Lifting-related injuries Get help lifting; lift safely
Slips, trips, and falls Keep job site clean
Strikes by objects Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
Trenching and excavation Proper area inspection; protective systems (e.g. support systems, sloping and benching systems, shield systems); training

 

Planting

This activity includes tasks such as planting trees, shrubs, and lawn; tree staking; work-area housekeeping; and providing safe transport for crew to and from the job site.

Planting
Primary Hazards Solutions
Lifting-related injuries Get help lifting; lift safely
Heat stress Drink enough water; pay attention to body signals; take rest breaks; work and rest in shade when possible
Cuts and hand injuries Wear gloves; inspect tools and equipment before use
Slips, trips, and falls Keep job site clean and free of debris
Vehicle accidents Train and certify drivers

 

Lawn and Landscape Maintenance

This activity includes such tasks as mowing, pruning, fertilizing, general cleanup, blowing, and providing safe transport for crew to and from the job site.

Lawn and Landscape Maintenance
Primary Hazards Solutions
Cuts and amputations Keep clear of rotating mower and brush-cutting blades
Hand injuries Wear gloves
Chemical exposure Read and obey material safety data sheet (MSDS) information; implement effective hazard communication program that includes employee training
Eye injury Wear protective goggles when using blowers
Hearing loss Wear ear protection when using power equipment
Ergonomics Maintain comfortable mower settings; use safe-lifting techniques
Vehicle accidents Train and certify drivers

 

Tree Care

Tree care companies provide services such as pruning, chipping and removal, plant health care, cabling, bracing, transplanting, consulting, fertilization, and lightning protection. Many hazards in the tree care industry are potentially fatal. Exposure to overhead power lines, falling branches and tools, and faulty safety equipment are just a few of the dangers.

Tree Care
Primary Hazards Solutions
Strikes by objects Use PPE; know drop zone
Cuts and amputations Train safe chainsaw use; wear chaps
Eye damage Wear safety goggles
Hearing loss Wear ear protection
Electrocution Comply with 10-foot power line clearance rule (10 feet + 4 inches for every 10kV over 50kV)
Slips, trips, and falls Use tree tie-ins; staking; anchoring

 

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration

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