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April 9, 2014
Lawn & Landscape Staff

Not-so sweet sounds

Hearing loss is a major problem in the industry, but goes unnoticed at first.

By Mickey McCord

Being struck by a vehicle, tipping a mower, skin cancer – those in the green industry face many safety issues every day, but hearing loss is one that people don’t normally put at the top of the list. However, I say this should be at the top of the safety training list for contractors.

When people outside the industry ask about the biggest safety risk for landscape contractors, my answer is always the same: “If by ‘biggest safety risk,’ you mean what could kill them, it’s a piece of equipment rolling over on them. But the hazard that landscapers face every day is noise exposure and hearing loss.”

It’s hard to find statistics specifically on the landscape industry, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related illness in the United States, estimating 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss since 2004. If you work in the field and don’t practice good hearing safety, you will experience hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a tricky problem: It usually causes no pain, has no visible trauma, leaves no scars and is completely unnoticeable in the early stages. It accumulates with each exposure and can take years to notice any changes. It can’t be cured, but it can be prevented with good hearing safety practices.

Visit to read the rest of McCord’s, founder of McCord Golf Services and Safety, article.


Keep it simple

Designing a training program doesn’t have to be a complicated process.

By Steve Cesare

An industry-wide sage contacted me the other day on LinkedIn to discuss training programs. During that interesting conversation, we agreed that many so-called “experts” typically complicate training program development to the point they fail to reach the desired outcome, waste inordinate time and money and leave a negative impression that training is an underperforming function. In response to this common problem, I informed the executive of the following four-step model to ensure training design is kept simple, efficient and results-oriented.

The first thing to do when designing a training program is to not think about training. But rather, think first of the empirical goals the company is trying to achieve (e.g., increase sales by 15 percent, improve gross margin by 5 percent, decrease employee injuries by 10 percent). These goals should be easily recited by all employees, be found in the company’s written strategic plan, and be part of every staff meeting.

All too often training programs are developed without a business goal in mind, and as such are destined for failure. If a training program does not directly impact a company’s business need, it should not be developed. Developing a training program without an empirical business goal in mind is like buying an expensive piece of equipment the company knows it will never use.

Visit for more tips from Cesare, an industrial psychologist with the Harvest Group, a landscape consulting group.


Crack down on crabgrass

Crowd out the weed by keeping turf strong and repairing problem areas.

When turf suffers under a tough winter, crabgrass takes advantage of the damage. Dr. John Street, associate professor of horticulture and crop science at The Ohio State University, talks about how to keep it from even getting started.

What does the crabgrass pressure look like this season?

I think it’ll probably be similar to typical years. If there’s a significant amount of winter damage due to snow mold or other issues, it could be a problem.

Since it’s been a more severe winter than normal, some places where it’s colder and they’ve had tall fescue that might die out with temperatures below -20, normally these are things that the grass will recover from on its own, but it’s harder when there’s snow mold pressure.

You usually don’t see people have to reestablish turf because of a cold winter, but what you do see is some holes in the lawn by that damage. The question is whether or not the cool-season turf you want will fill in before the crabgrass starts germinating. If it doesn’t, you’ve got an increased opportunity for that pressure.

Visit for more from Street on fighting crabgrass.