By Brooke Inzerella
As I was preparing my thoughts for the development of this article on safety in our industry and workplaces, I had a fleeting thought: “We do have challenges, but at least we’ll never be featured on the Most Dangerous Jobs television show!”
So, I was shocked when I read a CNBC article from 2019 that said Landscaping, Lawn Service and Grounds keeping is on the list of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America.
The longer I thought about it, I realized there’s more to be worried about beyond obvious hazards related to things like falls, machinery accidents, and heat exposure.
There is exposure to dangerous chemicals, noise, and machinery. Even driving from job to job can pose threats!
My company has been in business since 2008 and I’ve always promoted a “Safety First and Always” culture.
Even during the busiest of times, we have regular safety meetings — if only a few minutes to review established safety protocols and our safety non-negotiables.
These regular safety meetings reinforce the idea that safety is important to me and to the company.
A company operating with lax safety expectations from leadership is negligent toward the staff and causes the company to suffer financially.
No one reading this article believes worker’s comp insurance is cheap, but sometimes we all need reminders.
My wake-up call happened in 2019.
I went 11 years with zero workplace incidents, but in one year I had a team leader slip off a trailer and tear his rotator cuff.
It required two surgeries and a lengthy recovery time.
Then a venomous snake bit another worker, and the worker’s comp claim was more than my first home mortgage!
When you own a landscape and pool company there is so much to do in a day.
Staying on top of your workplace safety must remain a top priority though.
Try these three simple things for starters:
Stay diligent in communicating your safety non-negotiables. We give new employees cards printed in both English and Spanish, have posters hanging all around our 15,000 sq-ft office building, and we have regular safety meetings. I’m like an annoying parent that keeps repeating the same things over and over.
Make sure your staff knows “if/then” expectations. If someone gets hurt, then do this. This planning proved valuable in 2019 when I got the call that a poisonous snake bit one of my guys. My team leaders know when to head to the walk-in clinic, but this was an incident for the emergency room and required an overnight stay and a very expensive treatment. We’ve had a minor dog bite before, and the team leader knew this was a walk-in clinic visit for a tetanus shot. In all situations, though, they know to call me.
Leadership is key. Your staff will follow your lead in every area of operations. If they see you and your leaders casually disregard safety protocols, they will believe it’s not important. If you show up to the job site wearing flip flops or handling dangerous equipment without gloves and goggles, they will follow your lead. On the other hand, if they continually hear — from you — how important it is to keep everyone safe and well, they will comply. Generally, they all want what’s best for the company.
Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape company in Louisiana. As one of the area’s leading landscape companies, Horticare is known for superior service, swimming pools, landscaping and outdoor living spaces.