OSHA Rules for a Lawn and Landscaping Business
Employees of landscaping and lawn businesses face job site hazards that are different than those of other industries. In addition to the normal workplace hazards of falls, repetitive stress injuries and falling objects, landscapers also face the risk of amputation, electrocution, chemical exposure and equipment accidents. As a response to these dangers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations created specific standards for landscapers to follow.
The main hazards when working with trees are falling, contact with exposed power lines and branches or tools dropping on a worker below. Employees must wear hard hats at all times to protect their heads from falling objects. Workers should stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. If an employee is required to use a chainsaw, he must thoroughly inspect it before beginning work. Chainsaws should also be inspected and maintained periodically between work shifts and all defective parts replaced before any employee is allowed to use the saw again.
When digging trenches for irrigation pipes, a landscaper must verify there are no underground utility lines in the area. Most local utility companies offer a free hotline for contractors to call before digging. Trenchers and other machinery must be thoroughly inspected before they are operated on the job site. Employees must stay clear of the trencher's blades while it is in use.
Unprepared land is often unstable, which increase the risk of employees slipping and falling. Workers must wear boots with traction soles so they do not lose their footing on muddy or sloped job sites. If machinery is being used to prepare the soil, employees must wear proper noise protection gear, hard hats and safety goggles to prevent injuries from flying debris.
Employees who will be exposed to chemical pesticides must be provided with the Material Safety Data Sheet for each type of chemical present on the job site. The MSDS must clearly list the type of personal protective gear required for handling that chemical. The employer must also create an accident response plan in case of a chemical spill. This plan should be clearly posted at the job site, and all employees working in the area must be trained on its use.
Any employee who will be required to use a lawn mower, edger, trimmer, blower or other machinery must be trained on its correct use before beginning work. Workers should use caution when machinery is running and keep hands and loose clothing away from moving parts. Employees should never aim blower nozzles at themselves or others. Personal safety gear such as goggles, gloves and ear protection must be worn when employees operate machinery.