Regardless of your work experience or how careful you are, accidents and losses are an inevitable part of almost any business, particularly in landscaping operations. Taking precautions now can mean the difference between your business thriving and growing, or dying on the vine.
You can protect yourself, your employees and your business with a few simple tips:
- Develop and enforce a thorough safety program that includes written rules and safe work procedures. A committee with employees and supervisors should be used to evaluate procedures and update or change as needed.
- At the beginning of each workday or shift, conduct a jobsite survey to identify hazards and implement appropriate measures.
- Provide specific training for hazards such as power lines and other sources of electricity, vehicle operations, and hand and portable power tools use.
- Sharpen those tools: A dull blade means the user has to exert more force to get the job done. Keeping hand tools in good working order can also help protect against repetitive-stress injuries.
- Know your machine: A lot of power tools—like mowers, tillers, and trenchers—can cause severe injuries are used incorrectly or malfunction. Train your employees on the proper use of machines, and ensure they know safety precautions.
- Make sure you and your employees dress for safety.
- See and be seen! High visibility clothing, such as brightly colored shirts (think neon colors) and reflective vests, is a simple yet effective way to be seen.
- Long pants, sturdy shoes, gloves, and ear and eye protection are a must for any landscaper.
- Wear “wicking” fabrics in the heat. Monitor workers during periods of high heat and be aware of the signs of heat stroke, such as red, hot and dry skin; throbbing headache; dizziness and light-headedness; muscle weakness or cramps; nausea and vomiting; rapid heartbeat; and rapid, shallow breathing. Remind them to consume enough water and take frequent breaks during hot conditions.
- Avoid any loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in equipment.
- Be careful with repairs: Before attempting to fix or clean a power tool or mower, make sure that the power supply is turned off and all the blades have stopped moving.
- Slips and trips are common: Running on the job is a major cause of slip and trip injuries. So can wearing the improper footwear or failing to put tools and equipment back where they belong. Boots or waterproof shoes with good traction are a must.
- Pay close attention to conditions. Mud, snow, ice or wet grass, holes in the ground, sticks and stones, all cause uneven conditions that can lead to trips, slips and falls.
- Pay close attention if you are carrying a load that may block your view.
- Practice good housekeeping; clean up spills and put away tools and equipment.
A few minutes of review and a few simple safety steps can help save you and your employees from serious harm, now and in the future.