The entrepreneurial spirit motivates landscape contractors to create and grow their businesses. Through hard work, sweat and savvy, successful companies thrive every day. However, despite the best preparation, the potential for an accident – even a fatal one – exists every day in the landscape industry. Think it can’t happen to you? Think again.
Here’s how the 119 fatal accidents in the landscape industry in 2008 stacked up:
- 38 deaths were due to contact with objects and equipment
- 27 employees died in transportation-related incidents
- 27 individuals fell to their death
- 23 people died as a result of exposure to harmful substances
- 4 employees were killed in assaults
“Having a good safety record doesn’t happen by accident,” said Ed Laflamme author of “Green Side Up, Straight talk on growing and operating a profitable landscape business.” “It’s up to you and your employees to make a concerted effort to promote safety in every aspect of your business operations.”
Steve Cesare, a member of the Harvest Group, a national landscape consulting firm said, “The loss of human life in an occupational setting is unforgettable and unforgivable. The impact on a family, a co-worker and the company is permanent.”
To prevent such a catastrophe, each employer must take proactive steps to ensure a safe work environment including:
- Emphasize a “safety” culture – policy, training, performance evaluation, safety panels, bonus pay – for all landscape activities.
- Remind supervisors they are role models and accountable for safe practices.
- Provide hands-on training before an employee uses any piece of equipment.
- Deliver tailgate sessions on subjects like the use of ladders, tree climbing, PPE, etc., on a weekly basis and provide crew training at each job site.
- Train all employees on hazard communication content – pesticides, right-to-know, MSDS, etc. – on a frequent basis.
- Conduct defensive driving skills training to all company-approved drivers.
- Inform each employee of proper injury reporting procedures.
- Conduct safety follow-up constantly – in the yard, in the truck, at the job site, etc.
Safety must always be the top priority in every landscape firm. Improper communication, inadequate training and/or operational negligence are not excuses for a death at work or even an accident for that matter.