According to the Laborer’s Health & Safety Fund of North America motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatal accidents among landscapers. This includes traffic accidents (frequent travel from job to job means more time on the road) and struck-by incidents. As a landscaper or the owner of a landscaping company with employees you have a the opportunity to reduce injuries and death. When you have workers on the ground weed waking, laying bricks, trimming or any other activity that requires attention to detail you have to be aware of the dangers. I had a classmate that was killed in her car when a truck crossed the center line and hit her straight on. The truck driver was answering a text. We also had a local boy and his girl friend smash their motorcycle into a van that had pulled into the middle of the road. The women driving the van was again answering a phone call on her cell phone and missed a traffic sign. So imagine a helpless employee trimming the grass around a fence located near a road. A passer buy grabs their phone and their car moves off course just several feet. You or your employee will not have a chance.
The number one rule for any landscaper is to wear high visibility safety apparel. The high visibility color is held to a high standard of visibility by ANSI standards. The color and sometimes reflective nature of the apparel allows a driver of a vehicle or equipment to see the person quicker then if they wore a drab color. The quicker someone is seen the quicker the operator or driver can make a life saving move.
Landscaper safety training should be a monthly, weekly and or daily supervised process. You and your employees should be aware of the dangers of the job. It’s your job to train and prepare your workers for as many situations as possible. This should include an understanding of safety apparel and rules that must be followed. Employees must be properly trained to operate equipment and to be aware of their surroundings. If the work environment includes moving equipment and vehicles the employees job should include keeping a watchful eye for approaching hazards. Workers must focus on both the job and what’s going on around them. Getting distracted around dangerous equipment or getting tunnel vision on the task at hand can be equally dangerous.
Safety vests can be included and or required on most landscaping job sights. Landscaping crews are identified as being in great danger when there is motor vehicle traffic near their work areas. This danger is precisely what the new Federal Highway Administration Rule 23 CFR Part 634 is all about. The rule requires the use of ANSI Reflective Safety Vests for all workers on or around Federal Aid Highways. The vests are generally sleeveless and have reflective striping qualifying them as class 2 by OSHA. It’s stated “Workers means people on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway, such as… – Highway construction and maintenance forces, survey crews, utility crews – Responders to incidents within the highway right-of-way (example: tow truck) – Law enforcement personnel when directing traffic, investigating crashes, and handling lane closures, obstructed highways, and disasters”.