How to professionally handle pesticides

How to professionally handle pesticides

To avoid and limit scrutiny targeted at lawn care companies, LCOs must act professionally.

January 11, 2018
Lauren Rathmell

With growing scrutiny targeted at lawn care companies, Bob Mann, director of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, said it’s important for companies to do their best to maintain a professional persona.

“We need to be trying to advance the professionalism in this industry,” he says.

At Real Green’s Solutions 2018 conference in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mann offered a few tips for lawn care companies to keep their operations professional and productive.

Know your equipment. This might seem like a no-brainer, but understanding when to use what type of equipment will help prevent an accident or damage.

“You need to make sure you keep your equipment properly maintained and calibrated for every application,” Mann said.

He said it’s important to keep up with small maintenance duties like scraping buildup off propellers and cleaning nozzles before or after each use.

“If you need to, take your equipment to some asphalt to see what the spray pattern will look like,” Mann said.

Notify customers in advance. Mann recommends sending email blasts that include the date and time of the service, along with any important information related to the service.

Keep productivity in mind. While on the job, try to keep operations consistent. Walking around the property to look for obstacles like sinkholes will enhance your productivity. Mann said enforcing uniform operations such as always knocking on the customer’s door to let them know you’re there will build trust. 
Be professional and precise. “We always started our applications in the back and worked our way to the front,” Mann, formerly an agronomist at Lawn Dawg, said. He also said to work in straight lines only to get the best-looking results.

“Don’t get too close to the edge, either,” he said. “We would always go in with a sprayer to do the edges.”

Recording the work you perform will also come in handy in case any issues pop up with the property owner.

Clean up your mess. Keeping those pesticides off areas like driveways and streets will portray a look of professionalism.

“If it’s not turf, it needs to be cleaned up immediately,” Mann said. “Spray it off and get it cleaned. When you don’t clean it up, it reflects on all of us.”

Using a deflector will control the flow and direction of the spray to make your cleanup easier.

Be aware of ‘do not’ on labels. “The two most important words on any label are ‘do not,’” Mann said. Follow all label instructions word for word to avoid accidents and malpractice. The labels will have information regarding the amount of application, working conditions and any safety information related to the product.

Transportation. “Other people need to know what you have in your containers,” Mann said. “They need to be clearly labeled.” If there is an accident on a job site, first responders may need to know what type of chemical was involved to respond to the situation appropriately.

Reusing containers can also cause confusion for newer employees trying to learn each type of pesticide. Once the containers are empty, be sure to read the label for proper disposal.

When transporting your chemicals, they should be securely tied down to prevent spillage.

Dress for success. Anyone handling any sort of chemical must have the proper attire. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, long gloves and eye protection are necessities. Nitrile gloves are easy to find, but read the labels of the products to find out how thick the gloves should be.

For safe, chemical-resistant shoes, Mann recommends hiking boots for comfort while walking, but rubber impervious boots to put over them during application.