Landscaping Safety: Three Areas of Concern

Summer is fading to fall, and yard maintenance is on every home-owners mind, which means landscapers will be hard at work. Keeping up with landscaping and other agricultural/ horticultural services is imperative and, if done right can be a safe, easy and enjoyable job. However, that does not mean risk free.When landscaping, there is a wide range of potential risks that active workers face. A job hazard analysis (JHA) might include chemical exposure, weather related threats, hearing damage, harm from heavy lifting, and machinery/construction risk. All of which may have minor-to-severe consequences that can leave you a victim of injury or illness.As suspected, there are specific OSHA requirements that must be met before the start of a job. From the OSHA website,, “Landscaping and horticulture hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry if work is considered maintenance activity and the construction industry if work is considered building activity”. Another major aspect to meeting these requirements concerns a language barrier.“Many workers in the landscaping and horticulture services industries are Hispanic. OSHA requires that employers conduct all required training of workers in a language and vocabulary workers can understand” ( This communication is always important to remember prior to beginning your hiring process.When talking about general landscaping jobs, there are certain activities that pose great risk. Soil preparation and grading, irrigation, hardscape construction, planting,lawn and landscape maintenance, and tree care are some of the most common jobs that require extra attention to avoid injuries.Here are some tasks that pose a threat to landscaping employees and solutions to prevent them:Tree Care: Providing services like pruning, chipping and removal, plant health care, cabling, bracing, transplanting, still offer risk. One primary hazard includes being struck by falling and breaking limbs. This can be avoided with the use of PPE, requiring employees to wear hard hats, and to be informed of drop zones in the work area. Another major hazard is the risk of cuts and amputations. To prevent injury and a potentially horrific scene, train all employees to practice safe chainsaw usage and require the use of chaps. In regards to the risk of slips, trips and falls, assure the use of tree tie-in’s to the area where the job is being performed.Planting Trees, Shrubs & Lawn:  When planting, one risk to keep in mind is the injuries that may result from lifting. To prevent lifting related injuries, require employees to perform heavy lifting with the assistance of another worker. Also, suggest a stretching activity if found necessary. There are many hours spent outside planting in these months and summer is not over yet. This means that the sun is still beating down and heat stress is still a major concern. Make sure you keep yourself and your employees well hydrated and cool on hot days working.  Heat illness can truly effect your employees and your business! Check out our blog “10 Steps to Prevent Heat Illness” for more information on how to keep safe while working in the heat. One other thing to keep in mind while working a planting job is the constant transportation of planting materials. With this comes the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Ensure all workers are licensed and properly trained to perform relocation of materials, on and off the site.Irrigation: Even when installing and maintaining irrigation, you are still at risk of possible contact with hazardous materials. One of these hazards could be contact with glue and primer. Although it may seem harmless, these solutions are still potentially a risk. Provide employees with protective gloves and require that they wear them when working. Trenching is also one of the biggest irrigation concerns. When performing trenching for installment, you are in danger of amputation. Instruct employees to stay clear of trenching blades. Remain at a safe distance when the job is being performed. Also don’t forget to make sure that all equipment is properly functioning and inspected, prior to being used.People are anticipating a beautiful lawn for the end of a beautiful summer, and the start of fall. Your employees are going to be working hard to make sure the people get what they want, however you must always remember these safety tips alongside many more. Every job comes with the potential of risk. Remember to contact United Alliance Services Corporation for information on workplace safety programs and help with OSHA related issues.Image courtesy of dan