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Hazards and Solutions

Landscaping and horticultural service workers are at risk of injury from a wide variety of potential hazards in this industry, including exposure to chemicals, noise, machinery, lifting, construction, and weather related hazards. This page helps identify potential hazards and possible solutions to specific activities within the landscape and horticultural services industry.

Potential Hazards and Possible Solutions (General)

Hazards which are of concern across the entire Landscape and Horticultural Industry include:

Potential Hazards and Possible Solutions (For a Specific Activity)

Hazards which are of concern when completing the following activity:

Potential Hazards and Possible Solutions (General)

Cuts and Amputations

Electrical

Heat and Cold Stress

Lifting and Awkward Postures

Pesticides and Chemicals

  • Pesticide Illness & Injury Surveillance. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Protects workers by determining the underlying causes of over-exposure to pesticides in the workplace. Surveillance also serves as an early warning system of any harmful effects not detected by manufacturer testing of pesticides.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Soil Preparation and Grading: Soil preparation is the process of preparing the existing soil material by loosening the sub-grade and mixing in soil conditioners such as topsoil, humus and fertilizer to a quality needed for planting and/or landscaping. Grading is the process of moving soil to the desired elevations and/or designed contours.

Primary hazards include:

  • Equipment Accidents
  • Slips and trips - uneven terrain
  • Vehicle Accidents Hauling Equipment
  • Cuts and amputations
  • Hearing loss

Solutions:

  • Train and certify operators.
  • Wear boots with traction soles.
  • Train and certify drivers.
  • Stay clear of tiller blades.
  • Wear ear protection.

Irrigation: The process of installing and maintaining irrigation lines has specific exposures resulting in injuries such as exposure to hazardous materials (e.g., glues, cleaners) and exposure to excavations and trenches.

Primary hazards include:

  • Glue and primer hazards
  • Amputation
  • Electrocution

Solutions:

  • Wear protective gloves.
  • Stay clear of trencher blades/Inspect equipment.
  • Call for utility locates.

Hardscape Construction: The construction of retaining walls, hard surface patios, decks and walkways, water features, wood construction, etc. Injuries result from saw operation, lifting, slips and trips, power equipment noise.

Primary hazards include:

  • Cuts and amputations
  • Hearing loss
  • Lifting-related injuries
  • Slips and trips
  • Struck by
  • Trenching/Excavation

Solutions:

  • Saw training/Ensure equipment safeguards are in place and functional.
  • Wear ear protection.
  • Call for utility locates.
  • Keep job site clean.
  • Follow SOP's/Wear personal protective equipment.
  • Use protective systems/Train. [See related topic page]

Planting - Trees, Shrubs, Lawn: This activity includes such tasks as planting trees, shrubs, and lawn, tree staking, work area housekeeping, and providing safe transport for crew to and from the job site.

Primary hazards include:

  • Lifting-related injuries
  • Heat stress
  • Cuts and hand injuries
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Vehicle accidents

Solutions:

  • Get help lifting/Lift safely/Stretch.
  • Drink enough water/Pay attention to body signals/Rest breaks/Work and rest in shade when possible.
  • Wear gloves/Inspect tools and equipment before use.
  • Keep job site clean.
  • Train and certify drivers.

Lawn and Landscape Maintenance: This activity includes such tasks as mowing, pruning, fertilizing, general clean-up, blowing, and providing safe transport for crew to and from the job site.

Primary hazards include:

  • Cuts and amputations
  • Hand injuries
  • Chemical exposure
  • Eye injury
  • Hearing loss
  • Ergonomics
  • Vehicle accidents

Solutions:

  • Keep clear of rotating mower and brush-cutting blades.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Read and obey Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) form information/Implement effective hazard communication program that includes employee training.
  • Wear protective goggles when using blowers.
  • Wear ear protection when using power equipment.
  • Maintain comfortable mower settings/Use safe-lifting techniques.
  • Train drivers.

Tree Care: Tree care companies provide services such as pruning, chipping and removal, plant health care, cabling, bracing, transplanting, consulting, fertilization and lightning protection. Many hazards in the tree care industry are potentially fatal. Exposure to overhead power lines, falling branches and tools, and faulty safety equipment are just a few of the dangers.

Primary hazards include:

  • Struck by
  • Cuts and amputations
  • Eye damage
  • Ear damage
  • Electrocution
  • Slips, trips and falls

Solutions:

  • Use PPE (eg, hard hat)/know drop zone.
  • Train safe chainsaw use and wear chaps.
  • Wear safety goggles.
  • Wear ear protection for chipping/chainsaw.
  • Comply with the 10-foot power line clearance rule (10 feet + 4 inches for every 10kV over 50 kV). Note: Other Minimum Approach Distances (MADs) may be applicable for trained employees as provided by 29 CFR 1910.269.
  • Use property tree tie-in.
General References
  • Hurricane Preparedness and Response. OSHA. Includes information such as news releases, public service announcements, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, and more.
  • Target Industry Profiles. OSHA. Horticulture and landscape is one of the seven industries selected as part of the strategic management plan.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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