Work Hazards That Put Pennsylvania Landscapers at Risk
Every day, workers confront a lot of health and safety risks in their jobs - some apparent and preventable, while others remain hidden from sight. Occupations such as landscaping expose individuals to visible hazards like heavy machinery and uneven terrain. At the same time, less evident threats like extreme heat pose significant risks for work accidents that can't be easily detected.
Over 1,000 fatalities occurred in the landscaping industry from 2011-2021
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says there is good reason to be concerned about the health and safety of landscapers. About 1,072 work-related fatalities occurred in the landscaping and groundskeeping industry from 2011-2021. In 2021, 142 industry workers suffered fatal workplace injuries. Some of the most dangerous tasks performed by landscapers include:
- Tree care.
- Lawn and landscape maintenance.
- Hardscape construction.
- Soil preparation and grading.
- Motor vehicle transportation.
In Pennsylvania, employers have a responsibility to take steps to help protect workers from occupational hazards, and landscapers who suffer injuries on the job are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits cover medical expenses for treating their illness, as well as some lost wages if they missed time from work.
How landscaping injuries happen
With demand for landscaper services rising, federal safety officials say it is more critical than before for everyone to understand the necessary precautions and actions that can help prevent occupational injuries and illnesses to groundskeepers, gardeners, and landscapers. Understanding the risks helps in prevention. Some of the most common hazards landscapers face include:
- Slips, trips, and falls. Falls are among the number one hazards on any job. But, in landscaping, the risks are increased due to the variable nature of the work environment. Workers are at most risk when using equipment like ladders, trimming trees, shifting ground, uneven surfaces, and the potential for debris to get underfoot.
- Pesticides and chemicals. Without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), exposure to toxic substances like fertilizers and pesticides can cause long-term injuries and illnesses.
- Lifting and awkward postures. Landscaping work requires a lot of physical exertion. However, if employers do not educate or require workers to use best practices for lifting and carrying, injuries like back pain, twisted knees and ankles, and other serious injuries are possible.
- Heat and cold stress. Often, extreme temperatures are hazardous to employees because they have not been given the proper time or strategy to "acclimate" to the weather. According to OSHA, up to 70% of outdoor fatalities happen within the first three days of working in hot environments because the person did not have time to gradually build up a tolerance for heat.
- Electrical. Even though they're outside, landscapers are at high risk for electrocution. Fatal electrical accidents in landscaping may involve tree limbs falling on power lines and making contact with overhead powerlines or public utility volt powerlines.
- Cuts and amputations. Severe lacerations, cuts, bruises, and amputations often involve hand and power tools like stone cutters and log splitters. Mowers, hedge trimmers, chippers, and shredders can also cause severe and life-threatening injuries.
- Motor vehicles and transportation. Landscapers spend a lot of time in vehicles driving to different clients throughout the day. They also use equipment like riding mowers, excavators, backhoes, and other work vehicles. Injuries from crashes due to lack of driver training, poor equipment maintenance, and human error are possible.
Injured landscapers turn to us for help in Pennsylvania
If you are a landscaper who was injured on the job in Pennsylvania, our work injury law firm is here to help. At Vellner Law, PC, our firm leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of the best possible outcome for your case.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a Pennsylvania work accident, contact Vellner Law, PC for a free consultation. We have two offices conveniently located in Bethlehem and Allentown and serve communities throughout Lehigh Valley. During your free consultation, a member of our team can listen to the details of what happened, answer questions, and explain your potential legal options. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.