The safety gear every irrigation technician needs

August 25, 2023 -  By
Having the correct safety equipment is crucial for irrigation technicians on any job site. (Photo: Feverpitched/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Having the correct safety equipment is crucial for irrigation technicians on any job site. (Photo: Feverpitched/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

A lot can happen in the day of an irrigation technician. At any given job, responsibilities may include repairing, maintaining, installing or testing various systems.

With all of these responsibilities, safety is always key. Sam Steel, safety adviser for the National Association of Landscape Professionals; Ian Yarian, national irrigation category manager, and Larry Giroux, residential and commercial segment manager for Ewing Outdoor Supply; and Mark Stuhlsatz, vice president of branch operations for Ryan Lawn & Tree, discuss proper safety gear for irrigation installs and service calls.

Stuhlsatz previously served as irrigation department head for Ryan Lawn & Tree, No. 40 on the 2023 LM150 list, a primarily residential lawn care, irrigation, tree care and pest control service company in Merriam, Kan. Having served in that position for 11 years, Stuhlsatz explains the right safety gear depends on what each job requires.

“When looking at the job, workers can determine the proper safety procedures,” Stuhlsatz says. “If it’s installing, disconnecting power or dealing with electricity, there are proper protective gear practices that everybody needs.”

What to wear

Steele says one of the first necessary pieces of safety gear is an N95 face mask, which protects the wearer from poor air quality. He recommends checking your area’s Air Quality Index (AQI) online at before you send crews out. Crews working during air quality alerts should wear a mask.

“If you have a crew going out to do some installations or intensive work, you might want to proactively look at the AQI and see what the workers are going to be exposed to,” Steel says.

Steel warns, however, these masks do not last forever. Crew members will need to replace their masks within a day or two to remain effective.

The next piece of safety gear Steel recommends is a long-sleeved shirt, to protect arms from ultraviolet light. “Outdoor workers, especially in the landscape industry, have one of the highest rates for skin cancer of all different occupations,” Steel says. “We are definitely about wearing long-sleeve shirts or sunscreen.”

Other pieces of clothing Steel recommends include protective headgear, such as a hard hat, and gloves, which can be useful for installation work that requires digging or handling electricity.

Yarian and Giroux advise outdoor crew members to wear high-visibility safety clothing.

“Crews would need safety jackets,” Yarian says. “If you are on an active construction site or are in that world, there can be traffic that you have to deal with.”

Stuhlsatz agrees, adding high-visibility clothing helps when crews work on or near streets (since sprinkler heads can be on curb lines).

“If you’re doing an inspection, there could be cars buzzing by you,” he says. “It is a good idea to keep a high visibility vest in your vehicle at all times.”

Steel, Stuhlsatz, Yarian and Giroux agree proper eye protection is one of the most critical pieces of safety gear technicians cannot overlook. More specifically, Steel recommends American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 certified safety glasses, which protect workers from impact hazards.

“They provide peripheral, ultraviolet and impact protection,” Steel says. “If the safety glasses are certified, they will have ANSI Z87.1 imprinted somewhere. They’re not much different from what a landscape or lawn care employee may use.”

Does it change?

As for whether service calls call for different safety gear, Steel, Stuhlsatz, Yarian and Giroux say not really. For irrigation technicians, knowing what to wear requires understanding the mechanics of what the job requires. Whether it is a service call or personnel checking an irrigation system, Steel explains that safety gear will always be necessary because of the various hazards on the job.

“Irrigation technicians are exposed to many hazards,” he says. “I always remind our owners and students of this fact. And many of these hazards can be like each other. You always want to be careful.”

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