Workers in all industries in Iowa face safety hazards, but those who work with dangerous equipment are often at a higher risk. Landscaping is one of the jobs in which noncompliance with safety standards can have devastating consequences. As in any other work environment, you have a right as a landscaper to a safe work environment with adequate safety training and appropriate personal protective equipment.
Your job will undoubtedly require you to operate chainsaws, log splitters and other equipment that could trim hours off the projects. However, without proper training and safety standards, it could also trim years off your life. Your employer must ensure that you and all your co-workers are well-versed on the prevention of injuries.
Keep yourself out of harm's way
You can take precautions to avoid injuries. You can start by establishing a routine of doing the following checks on equipment at the start of each shift:
- Maintenance, as recommended by the manufacturer, is crucial, and the repair of equipment with defects or damage is essential before their next use.
- Replace dull blades, maintain chains, and file the cutting teeth and chain. You should also replace worn down blades.
- Do a thorough check of the log splitter and replace frayed or cracked hoses.
- Clean all power equipment at the end of the shift. Remove organic matter and lubricate the moving parts.
Beware of becoming complacent and do these checks without fail every day.
Personal protective equipment
Although it is your employer's duty to provide the necessary personal protective equipment, it might be up to you to make sure you adhere to the following:
- Never work without a hard hat, whether you are high up cutting a tree or moving about at ground level blow other tree care workers.
- Do not work without appropriate gloves; the risks of losing fingers or hands are significant when you work with a chain saw or a log splitter.
- Protect your eyes with protective glasses to avoid flying debris harming your eyes.
- Wear ANSI-standard work boots.
- Wearing leg protection when you work with a chain saw is crucial.
- When you work with insecticides or other hazardous chemicals you need appropriate respiratory protection.
- If you do not use hearing protection, you can suffer hearing loss in the long run.
Beware that PPE is only effective if used or worn correctly.
Typical tree care equipment injuries
While the list of potential equipment-related injuries is endless, the following are most common:
- The most reported chainsaw injuries follow kickback incidents when the saw hits a solid object. The unanticipated kickback can pull you off balance, and injuries can be severe.
- When you work with a log splitter, your fingers and hands are at the highest risk. Crush injuries can also occur if you put your fingers in a crack in the log while splitting it because it can snap shut in the blink of an eye.
- The hydraulic fluid in log splitters can cause severe damage if it comes into contact with unprotected skin. Never test a suspected leak with your bare fingers.
How will you cope with a serious injury?
With the imminent warmer weather, your job as a landscaper will likely put you in harm's way on multiple occasions. Despite all your precautions, you might suffer injuries, and if you are lucky, they might be minor. However, considering the dangerous equipment you handle, you might lose fingers, a hand or another body part. Although the Iowa workers' compensation insurance program will provide benefits, the help of an experienced attorney can ensure that you get all applicable benefits that might also include vocational rehabilitation if necessary.