Staying safe on the job is a priority in any industry, but it is especially important in the world of yard care and landscape design. For any person who deals with heavy machinery, potentially dangerous weather conditions or chemicals in their daily work environment, the need to be aware and alert could be the difference between completing a day’s work and dealing with serious injury.
Workplace safety is the effort industries make to keep employees, contractors and even individuals visiting a job site or place of business safe from potential hazards. It is an important aspect to any job for many reasons. Whether it is education, safety equipment or even choosing the right materials for a job, safety in the workplace cannot be taken lightly.
Environmental dangers are common, and often unavoidable, when working outdoors. But with the right knowledge and tips, it can be easier to avoid the complications that often come along with safety issues like weather and unstable worksites.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to be cognizant of particularly hot or humid days when working outdoors. Extreme heat can prove problematic for both a worker’s health as well as for his or her tools.
Prevent It: First, think of health. Wear sunglasses that filter UV rays, sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, lightweight, breathable clothing (cotton works well) and a wide-brim hat that covers the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. Keep tools dry and cool and be sure to clean and properly store them after use.
Just as very hot conditions can be harmful when working outside, so too can days where temperatures dip down to frigid numbers. Be sure to bundle up on very cold days and don’t forget to be aware of how you are feeling – frostbite and hypothermia, which is an abnormally low body temperature, can come on quickly and be deadly.
Prevent It: Wearing layers on particularly cold days can protect from wet, very cold or windy conditions. Gloves, hats and good socks and shoes are important. Take regular breaks and find a warm or dry spot to escape the cold. Be well-rested each day – fatigue or exhaustion will reduce the energy that is needed to keep the body warm. Drink hot beverages but avoid too much caffeine. Eat foods that are high in calories.
High winds can be dangerous (and a bit annoying) in outdoor work environments. Unpredictable gusts of wind can take workers by surprise, leading to potential falls, broken bones, sprains, slips or eye injuries from dust and debris flying.
Prevent It: Prevent the dangers associated with high-wind conditions by securing tools and equipment, being hyper-aware of conditions, wearing proper eye protection and other safety gear and using basic common sense. If winds are unusually excessive, take a break until the weather improves.
It is not unusual that occasionally outside worksites may become unstable, increasing the risk for landslides or even just bad falls. Problems can stem from a lack of soil compaction that could result in unstable conditions or improper composition stability, which may mean too much or too little moisture in the soil. Soil stabilization can prevent serious injury that results from falls or landslides.
Prevent It: Properly assessing and, if needed, stabilizing soil before tackling the job at hand can keep workers and areas safe. Till and turn soil to help dry it out before beginning projects. If excessive moisture exists and will be a common problem for landowners, it may be wise to consider installing drainage tiles to prevent future problems. It can mean more work, time and money than a job would have originally required, but repeated drainage issues can cause extensive damage and danger.
Chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other dangers when working outside can be toxic and require meticulous prep, protection and care to avoid harmful lasting effects on workers.
They may be invisible, but the risk of harmful chemicals entering the body through the mouth and skin is all too real.
Prevent It: Wear PPE, like chemical-resistant rubber or plastic gloves while spraying with specifically-designated equipment that ensures safe and accurate spraying of foaming chemicals.
Misusing tools can easily and often result in harm. From using the wrong tool for the job to mistreating tools all together, taking care to ensure proper use and treatment can be a life-saver.
When working in physically demanding situations, skimping on using the proper gear or tools may prove detrimental and prolong jobs as a result.
Prevent It: Insist on durability when choosing tools. A hose that stands up to high temperatures and heavy use is important. The Flexogen Pro Hose can be left in the sun without getting damaged. Accessories should be tough enough to stand up to rough conditions. Brass Quick Connectors ensure a reliable and fast attachment between watering tools, while heavy-duty menders fix cracked or torn-up hoses fast.
Common essential tools like mowers, chainsaws, weed whips and even hoses can be working hazards. If mishandled, they can be seriously harmful.
Prevent It: Get to know equipment and do routine inspections. Ensure all guards and shields on mowing equipment are in place and secure. All blades should be kept sharp (dull blades can be more dangerous than sharp ones). Take a good look at watering tools. If working with high-temperature water, is the nozzle designed to handle hot water and high pressure? If a hose is damaged, it should be fixed with a hose mender or coupler. When work is done for the day, remove dirt and ensure equipment is dry to prevent rust.
Poor ergonomics can result in several health issues including joint and bone pain, sore muscles and even bad posture. Back, shoulder and neck pain can easily result in lost work time and missed project deadlines.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the result of repetitive actions, usually done at work, that cause strain and potentially serious pain. Take care to reduce the likelihood of carpal tunnel by being aware of the causes and how to avoid it.
Prevent It: When completing repetitive-motion tasks like raking, mowing, digging or pruning, take frequent breaks. Wear braces or splints on wrists to immobilize movement and keep wrists and hands in proper position during work. If carpal tunnel syndrome is already present, several therapies and treatments may help.
Bad posture can be a habit that results in serious pain that worsens with time and abuse. Headaches, back pain, breathing difficulty and even poor balance can all result from not standing up straight. Be sure to stand tall and keep your spine in mind when working outdoors.
Prevent It: Prevent bad posture by doing spine and core-strengthening exercises. Wearing a back brace that enforces good posture may help. Take breaks and stretch when working for long periods of time.
Working in outdoor environments often entails lifting heavy loads regularly. Knowing how to properly lift even light loads can reinforce the action so regardless of how heavy the job is, you are saving your back by lifting the right way.
Prevent It: Be sure to lift items properly – hinge from the hips and squat to lift an item. Use the knees and straighten legs to lift heavy items. Do not twist or turn while holding or lifting big, heavy or awkward objects.
Working outside an office environment can be refreshing and rewarding on many levels. Working in gardens and yards and outdoors can be the perfect job for those who don’t want to be stuck behind a desk every day. Being safe and smart when working outdoors can mean every work day is a good one.
Any professional gardener will tell you, the right landscaping tools can make a world of difference when trying to maintain a yard or garden. Knowing the ins and outs of each job,Get the Scoop