WASHINGTON – The familiar sounds of weed trimmers and lawn mowers and the sights of landscaping workers are familiar sights in many neighborhoods, office parks and other locations. For people doing these jobs, including young people employed for the summer, the work exposes them to hazards such as moving machine parts, heat exposure, falling trees and toxic chemicals.
From 2011-2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 1,072 work-related fatalities occurred in the landscaping and groundskeeping industry. In 2021, 142 industry workers suffered fatal workplace injuries.
While workers struck by vehicles is typically the industry’s leading cause of fatal injuries, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns of other hazards that can potentially lead landscaping and groundskeeping workers to suffer serious or fatal injuries.
“Landscaping can be dangerous when workers lack experience and appropriate training in a language they understand,” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Too often, our inspectors find workers harmed in ways that their employers could have prevented by following federal and industry safety standards. We urge employers to implement strategies that involve their workers and protect everyone.”
Hazards that landscapers commonly face include:
Exposure to chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides.
Lack of personal protective equipment, particularly to protect hands and feet.
Moving machine parts, including mower blades and other equipment.
Operating machines near water hazards, such as ponds and ditches.
Encounters with animals, insects and other natural hazards.
Contact with electrical power lines during tree and bush trimming.
Exposure to extreme summer weather.
The department advises landscaping employers who hire young people for summer jobs to be aware of federal law that restricts employees under age 17 from working in hazardous occupations.
Learn more about how to operate riding mowers safely and OSHA’s annual heat safety campaign.