Landscapers work year-round with dangerous machinery and often work in extreme weather conditions. Safety hazards are prevalent in landscaping, and it is crucial for workers in the landscaping industry to take the proper precautions to protect themselves from workplace injuries. Employers also have responsibilities to their workers, such as providing proper training on equipment. Employers must also provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as goggles, ear coverings, and reflective vests.
What Hazards Do Landscapers Encounter at Work?
Landscapers face many hazards while working, including the following:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Landscapers typically travel all day from job to job, which puts them at risk for motor vehicle accidents. From traffic accidents to being struck by moving vehicles, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatal accidents for landscapers. Tractors and mowers working on uneven territory can roll over onto workers, or they can be hit by trucks laden with heavy equipment.
Power tools that landscapers use each day can also pose safety hazards. The vibrations from power tools can cause injuries to the muscular, nervous, and vascular system over time.
Research has shown that many landscapers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise pollution from their equipment, including chainsaws, leaf blowers, and mowing equipment. Occupational hearing loss can be permanent.
Landscapers can be exposed to buried power lines while digging on the job, which can lead to electrocution accidents. Workers on ladders must be careful to avoid coming into contact with hanging power lines. Additional risks come from the use of extension cords with power tools. Worn and frayed cords exposed to moisture can result in electrical shocks to the user.
As a part of their job, landscapers are often required to handle chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. When stored and handled appropriately, these chemicals can be relatively safe, but proper training is required for their use and application.
Heat and Cold Exposure
Landscapers do their work regardless of the weather. This means long hours spent in both hot and cold weather. In the cold months, workers exposed to cold temperatures for too long can suffer frostbite or hypothermia.
Heat-related illness is a bigger problem because the majority of the landscaping season happens during the summer months. Heat stress illnesses and injuries include sunburns and heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Occupational sun exposure also puts workers at high risk for skin cancer.
Insects, snakes, and poisonous plants are all hazards for landscape workers. Mosquitoes and ticks can carry dangerous blood borne pathogens. The oils from some plants can cause serious rashes, requiring medical attention if bare skin brushes the leaves.
What Injuries Happen in the Landscaping Industry?
Landscapers can experience various injuries. Some common injuries include the following:
Landscaping is a physical occupation, and overexertion is a common injury that arises from lifting heavy materials and debris, using power tools, and other equipment, repetitive tasks, and working in awkward positions. Strains and sprains are common injuries for landscapers.
Cuts, Punctures, and Lacerations
Branches, brush, tools, and equipment can cause cuts, punctures, and lacerations. Landscapers should be extra cautious while working.
Without regular use of proper PPE, landscapers can suffer hearing damage, such as hearing loss and tinnitus from occupational exposure to high decibel levels of noise. These conditions can be permanent.
Many landscape workers experience heat-related illnesses from working exclusively outdoors. Workers should be prepared for outdoor conditions.
Mowers, leaf blowers, trimmers, and other power tools can throw up debris that cause eye injuries. Prolonged sun exposure can also damage a person’s vision.
How Can Employers Help Prevent Landscapers from Being Injured?
The vast majority of landscaping work injuries are preventable. Workers should be thoroughly trained on the variety of equipment they are required to use. Workers should be aware of the safety hazards and proper use and maintenance of each tool, chemical, and vehicle. PPE should be provided, such as goggles and properly fitting ear coverings. Workers should wear high-visibility colors and long-sleeved garments to protect against the sun, insects, and branches. Closed toe, reinforced shoes, or boots must be worn.
When using motor vehicles, landscapers should always wear seat belts, follow speed limits, and refrain from using alcohol or drugs. Landscaping vehicles should be equipped with back-up warning signals. Using a flagger can help increase the safety of those working around moving vehicles.
All equipment should be inspected for wear and tear at the start of each work day. This includes ladders in addition to power and manual tools. Blades should be kept sharp, and safety guards should never be removed from tools that are designed to have them. Workers should be taught to power down equipment completely before approaching any moving blades or parts.
Overexertion can be prevented by using ergonomic tools, rotating tasks, and taking frequent breaks. Training can help workers learn proper lifting techniques to avoid injuries. Heavy lifting tasks should be done with more than one person.
Heat stress can be avoided with good hydration, frequent breaks in shaded, cooler spots, and training so that workers know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Working in pairs is a good way for landscapers to check on each other during hot conditions.
Can I Receive Compensation for Work Injuries?
If a worker is injured on the job, they are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits that will help cover medical bills and lost wages. If an injury was caused by the negligence of a third party, a worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. An experienced lawyer can help determine if a worker has a case against a negligent property owner or the manufacturer of defective landscaping equipment.
Vineland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Represent Injured Landscape Workers
The landscaping industry can be dangerous. Our Vineland Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law fight for the rights of injured workers. If you have a work-related injury, we can help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call us at 856-414-0010 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.