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SafetyWatch: Spring cleanup safety

February 24, 2021 -  By
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Safety gear (Photo: fcafotodigital/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Make sure your PPE is compliant with OSHA safety standards. (Photo: fcafotodigital/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Spring is just around the corner, so it’s important to ensure crew members are prepared with proper safety equipment when they head out to perform cleanup work. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide eye protection, ear protection and head protection in good condition to employees free of charge, according to Sam Steel, Ed.D., safety adviser for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Required PPE

Eye protection. Protective eyewear must give workers impact resistance, peripheral protection and UV radiation protection. Standards for eye protection can be found at OSHA Standard 1910.133.

Ear protection. Pay attention to the noise reduction rating (NRR) on ear plugs and ear muffs and the decibel level on equipment. A decibel level of higher than 85 requires an employer to provide ear protection. Steel notes that hearing protection with an NRR rating of 20 or higher works well for working around landscape equipment.

Pay attention to how long a worker is exposed to noise. OSHA’s rating chart can be found at Standard 1910.95.

Head protection. Workers should wear hard hats when there’s tree work being done. Head protection regulations can be found at OSHA Standard 1910.135.

Reflective vest. While not required, reflective vests help protect workers from vehicle incidents, Steel says.

Other hazards

Steel says most landscaper injuries stem from slips, trips and falls.

“Sometimes, it’s people jumping off instead of using the ladder or other proper techniques,” he says. “Also, when getting on and off equipment such as aerators, the machine should be turned off with the parking brake set, and equipment on the back should be set in the downward position.”

Steel notes that on chainsaws, brush chippers and mulch blowers, landscapers should take care to employ the guarding and shielding components of equipment to help protect themselves from injury by chain drives, blades and augers.

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's associate editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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