Pest Control & Weed/Landscape professionals face risks every day. One risk that causes quite a few injuries but doesn't seem to get much attention as pest control equipment safety is job site safety.
I know many pest & landscape technicians that have suffered injuries, some serious, on job sites.
In this post i will share my thoughts on how to eliminate some of these risks to protect yourself, your employees & your company. For those of you who prefer video to reading, I have an excerpt of some CEU training I did on this subject a while back. See video at bottom of post.
Before we get into specifics, here are some broad points to keep in mind:
- Know the hazards before starting
Don't take unnecessary risks. Be familiar with your surroundings.
- 1st Time? Inspect the Site
If it is your first time on the site, take a minute to look and see what is around you. It is much faster and safer to take a minute or two up front than to have to go to the emergency room.
- No walking backwards!
Most of the serious job site injuries I know about were caused by techs walking backwards and not knowing what was behind them.
- Watch for small trip hazards
There are no signs!
Trip hazards are all around you and come in many shapes, sizes and flavors. Here are a few common trip hazards. Please share any others that have caused issues for you.
Sidewalks and public areas can be full of trip hazards, debris, construction areas, holes, etc.
Trip hazards like this uneven sidewalk are even more dangerous when you have a Birchmeier Backpack on your back which will definitely throw off your balance and make you land with a much bigger THUD!
If you are not paying attention, stepping into a hole or ditch like this can cause to you fall or hyper-extend a knee. OUCH!
Even in a nice safe backyard there are risks. Here is an example. Tree guy wires can be difficult to see if you are not specifically looking for them:
Speaking of backyard issues, stepping on something as innocent as a child's toy can send you sprawling. This is a great example of why we suggest doing a quick survey of the property BEFORE you start with your weed / landscape spray equipment.
Job site hazards can also be LIVING CREATURES. Here are some examples to watch out for:
Dogs can be a triple threat:
1. They can attack you.
2. You could step on it or trip over it
3. You could accidentally spray dog or dog dish.
Wildlife can be an issue. Here in Arizona in the summer, rattlesnakes are a problem.
Inadvertently disturbing a swarm of Aggressive Honey Bees will definitely put you in the hospital.
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We have heard a number of horror stories from techs who treat public areas like parks. Make noise so you do not surprise a homeless person where you don't expect him. NOTE: Making noise is a good idea for people, snakes, dogs, etc. Not such a good idea for Aggressive Honey Bees!
Walking Backwards. One word: DON'T.
We know quite a few techs that have injured themselves or caused significant problems by walking backwards.
Some particularly interesting horror stories:
- Tech was backing out of a gate. He turned around quickly without looking, smacked his head on an AC unit and fell to the ground.
- Tech was walking backwards and stepped on a cactus (this is AZ). He hyper-extended his knee and missed 2 months of work.
- Tech fell into a swimming pool with his B&G. The property owner made the company drain, clean and refill the pool.
- Tech walked backwards off a 10' retaining. Hurt his pride and a little sore but nothing serious.
In a similar vein, standing up too quickly can be painful. We know of techs that have stood up without looking and knocked their head on overhead pipes. As he said, it hurt like heck but it didn't knock any more sense into him!
And last, but certainly not least, if you are applying pesticides or herbicides, NO TALKING ON THE PHONE!
We recommend a hard and fast rule about technicians using their phones while working. Absolutely not allowed. It's not allowed while driving and it shouldn't be allowed while spraying chemicals around. If you get an important call from a family member you must take: Stop spraying. Pay Attention. Answer the call!.
HANG UP AND WORK!
For those of you who prefer to watch it in video format: