Agenda: Safety in the Workplace

by | Nov 18, 2021 | Build, Business, Design, Featured Slider, People, Safety

Industry voices share ways to make safety a priority

Merry Mott

FNGLA Director of Certifications and Career Development 

When FNGLA developed its industry certification programs, we knew safety was one of the most important things our members wanted to impress upon their employees. As such, there is an aspect of safety in every exam section across FNGLA’s six different certification designations. It doesn’t matter if they are being tested on Plant ID or Tree Installation, they must be wearing the proper PPE and using their tools in a safe manner – or they fail their certification exams! In addition, industry professionals in our region must be aware of one of the most prevailing safety issues of all – Florida’s intense summer heat.  Even the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration identifies heat as the number one weather-related killer countrywide. So, our members are acutely aware of training workers to recognize symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to prevent them via providing water, rest, shade and allowing for more frequent breaks to build a tolerance for working in the heat.

R.W. III

Senior Landscape Architecture Student 

North Carolina Agricultural and technical state university

Safety initiatives are continuously developing with our advancements.  They require designers to initiate communication from a community, or research and gather the specifics of that area. While we like to believe that we can design things to be safe wherever we are, this thought process can overlook the particulars of a site. Safety initiatives are chosen for every location, but without input from those who genuinely use it, they can easily miss the mark. For our projects, we typically explore the area on foot to gather some firsthand experience. The importance of safety initiatives is multifaceted; there must be the observation of the specifics that plague said location or communication between residents to provide designers the details for intentional designs because the most effective way to design is to adopt informed design principles.

Jonathon Geels, PLA, ASLA  

VP of Operations and Principal Landscape Architect at Troyer Group

South Bend, Indiana

In the book ‘Power of Habit’ there’s a great chapter regarding using the concept of safety as a way to create culture change within companies. In that way, rallying around a common truth – like quality, safety, equity, etc. – can help to set the strategic direction for firms. On the design side, we frequently look through the lens of accessibility, which then connects to equity. In all manners, I want to ensure that everyone can experience the full value of public spaces – so from creating more inclusive play experiences for people on the autism spectrum or making sure blind people can better experience a park or creating more ways for people to utilize transportation networks (not just cars). It is all connected for me.

Adam Martin, PLA  

Landscape Architect at Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc.

Mobile, Alabama

Thoughts of equity are often difficult things to balance regarding safety. We’re working on a park now, where a small group of community members have an appreciation for a particular natural feature in the landscape. There is a particular nostalgia among this group, and they are wishing to honor nostalgia over equity and safety. There are provisions in federal code that allow certain historic features to be preserved, but there are specific caveats and requirements to meet. Safety and aesthetics are often at odds in antiquated health codes. Safety and equal access can be difficult to balance with convenience, aesthetic, and complexity. 

Bianka Filipowicz 

Director of Business Development, Site Safety

Miami, Florida

Safety is important in every field. Whether it’s construction or general industry, everyone deserves to return home in a healthy condition. Safety education is crucial in order to avoid injuries and/or worse, fatalities. Site Safety recommends having a documented safety program! Not only do they provide potential insurance savings, they can reduce injuries, claims, and lead to a more productive and engaging workforce. Consistent training keeps employees updated on new rules, regulations, and trends. For the landscaping industry, workers are at risk of injury from exposure to chemicals, noise, machinery, lifting, construction, weather related hazards, and more. Not only is an OSHA awareness course recommended, but also Fall Prevention and Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) courses. In 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 244,000 workers experienced an incident related to slips, trips, and falls that involved lost work day(s). Having a designated safety professional in the workforce to monitor safety, whether it’s a consultant like Site Safety or not, is essential. It not only improves company culture, but most importantly, the safety of your employees in the workplace.

Matthew Taylor, PLA  

Principal Landscape Architect at Norris Design

Austin, Texas

While the profession of Landscape Architecture is multi-faceted with professional practices varying in size, scale and type, the over-arching emphasis to being a Licensed Landscape Architect is to protect the general public’s health, safety, and welfare. This can be demonstrated in multiple ways, be it assuring the health of the users via oversight that effluent (re-use) watering systems are safely installed to not cause cross contamination with potable (drinkable) water, the safety of the users by verifying that all designed items (structures, walks, etc.) are designed and installed per local, state and national code, and the welfare or the users by assuring all sites are accessible to those of all capabilities and mobilities (young or old) while protecting the surround environment from flooding, etc. The whole purpose of our professional license process, and subsequent CEU (continuing education credits) that we must continue to receive yearly, is to assure that the above (and so much more) is done by every professional, on every project, no matter size, scale or type.

Mike Keran  

Business Development Manager at SiteOne Landscape Supply, LLC.

St Paul, Minnesota

Site One fosters a culture of safety by empowering all employees to self implement and submit to management any safety practices that they feel could reduce potential safety hazards. No matter the employees place in the company’s hierarchy everyone is encouraged to speak up in unsafe situations, from the fork lift driver to the CEO. You really feel how much employees care that everyone goes home safe each night.

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