By Ryan Towns, Senior Compliance Safety and Health Officer
With spring in the air, it’s that time of year to dust off the landscaping and grounds maintenance equipment. It’s also important to keep in mind the dangers involved when using this type of equipment. We encourage you to ensure your employees are reviewing safety manuals and are adequately trained in operating these tools.
In Ohio, we continue to see injuries to employees whose jobs include lawn care, property maintenance, tree care, and right-of-way maintenance. This trend has continued in 2022 with two recently reported mower roll-overs that have resulted in a hospitalization and a fatality. Mowing on slopes is one of the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities in the industry. Cleaning clogged chutes with hands or feet have also led to amputations and serious lacerations. Improper tree branch pruning is another work activity that has caused serious injury to workers in Ohio. These activities, if done incorrectly and not according to manufacturer’s instructions and employer training, can lead to days away from work, hospitalization, or death.
Before performing landscaping or tree work, employers should take these steps:
- Train employees to identify and evaluate danger zones during tree work and landscaping. Training should include how to inspect the worksite to identify hazards such as unstable trees, steep slopes, overhead power lines, holes, and obstructions.
- Make operations manuals readily accessible. Employees should read, understand, and discuss the operations manual for any piece of equipment used.
- Implement preventive maintenance programs for bucket trucks, mowers, and chainsaws to prevent tool and equipment failures that can lead to serious injuries.
- Ensure operators do not disengage, bypass, or remove equipment safety features or guards.
- Advise employees to never use their hands or feet to clear clogs from lawnmowers, augers, or chippers.
- Develop a policy that specifies what equipment employees can safely use in locations with steep slopes or drop-offs to lower levels.
To learn more, we encourage you to join us on June 9 from 1-3 p.m. for our free webinar, Outdoor Equipment Safety, which will cover proper training, maintenance, inspection, and safe operation of equipment used during landscaping and other outdoor maintenance activities.
BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene provides consultation services to private and public employers at no additional cost. You can request our services online or by phone at 1-800-644-6292.