Lawn care professionals use high-tech tools and large mowers with sharp blades. This makes the job not just riskier for them, but also those around them, particularly during landscape edging jobs. During any job, it’s important for both landscapers and nearby pedestrians to be aware of each other in order to stay safe. A few simple tips may help:
In their guideline set “Mowing and Trimming Safety For the Landscaping and Horticultural Services Industry,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires landscapers to have a first aid kit on sight. At a minimum, these kits should have essentials like adhesive bandages and tape, antiseptic and burn treatment applications, sterile pads, a compress and latex-free medical gloves. In most cases, this kit will probably not be needed, but having one around will help to mitigate the risk for both yard care service workers and pedestrians.
Workers should also know basic treatment protocol for minor cuts and burns. Each treatment uses materials that are available in a first aid kit.
Check Your Surface
Lawn care professionals should ensure that they are mowing on the correct surface to avoid spraying debris onto pedestrians, especially during a landscape edging job. For example, most mowers should not go over a gravel path because it will result in the mower shooting out pebbles. This puts both workers and pedestrians at risk. Other surfaces, such as dirt, may come loose and get into nearby pedestrians’ eyes.
As with everything else about the job, it’s important for lawn care workers to always stay attentive to their surroundings to ensure that they are not putting anyone else at risk.
Crossing the Street
For larger jobs, workers may have to cross or travel on the street with their mowers to get to different areas. These times of transition can be especially dangerous for pedestrians, as well as drivers. Workers should observe both general basic traffic laws and signage, and also take several extra precautions. For example, according to OSHA, mowers should have a Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) sign mounted on their backs to indicate to drivers that they will be traveling at a lower speed. Extra caution should be employed if a mower crosses an intersection, as their slow speeds may disrupt the typical flow of traffic.
Additional precautions should be heeded when performing yard care services on or near the side of a busier road, for the safety of workers, drivers and pedestrians. For example, landscapers should place a flagger and a set of safety cones if they need to block off a part of a road to alert traffic. Place both the flagger and the cones as far out from the workers as possible to give drivers an extended period of time to slow down.
Overall, workers should do their best to stay out of the road whenever possible. However, in cases where it is unavoidable, every precaution available should be taken. Cars have the potential to cause more significant injury than any typical pedestrian.
While it may seem incredibly basic, the overall best way to avoid injuring pedestrians is to simply be alert at all times. In addition to looking out for pedestrians and drivers, mowers and other lawn care workers should be aware of large obstacles like rocks or trees. Certain smaller objects like stones, or children’s toys that have been left out in the yard, can be picked up in the spin of blades and launched into the air, resulting in injury or damage to property. When mowing, it’s best to look ahead to what’s coming.
Landscape edging typically isn’t noted as being extremely hazardous to pedestrians who happen to be walking by a work site. However, safety risks can absolutely rear their ugly head in some situations. For workers, it’s important to be conscious and alert at all times, even if a job seems relatively low risk. Doing so isn’t just essential for the safety of everyone on their team, but also those around.