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Safety First . . .

By George Schmok

Many of you may have seen the recent TV series about the crab fishermen of Alaska. It was the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch." Apparently, one of the most dangerous jobs in America is Bering Sea fishing . . .

Well, we recently saw a new safety poster put out by the state of California showing a guy getting pulled into a tree chipper (see page 10). This is a true depiction of an accident in July, 2000 in which a worker was killed by being pulled through (yuck) a chipper. What a horrible way to go . . . Unfortunately this is an industry in which things like that happen. In fact, grounds maintenance is the 8th most dangerous job in the country according to recent numbers from the Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2003, some 156 grounds maintenance professionals lost their lives on the job . . . A whole new meaning for Killer Landscapes . . . Sorry . . .

Death and injury though, are no laughing matter. As owners of your Landscape Company, and payers of liability and workers' comp insurance, this is a big concern.

The top three causes of these fatalities were being struck by objects (25%), falling (22%) and on the highway (15%). Of course many of these accidents can be avoided, but how do you plan for one of your crew getting broadsided on the way to the next project?

Actually there are many ways to plan against and prepare your crews so they are not the next victims. It is your responsibility to provide adequate safety gear (i.e. harnesses, back braces, shields, hard hats, etc) and also to make sure that the gear is used. That is one of your tasks as the owner.

You can check and/or be aware of the status of your drivers' licenses and install rules about radio noise and number of people in a vehicle.

It is not unreasonable to make sure your foremen are aware of CPR procedures and semi-advanced first aid. While it may seem burdensome to get the staff together and go over safety elements, it would seem drastically more unfortunate to deal with a death or severe injury that could have been avoided or that winds up on your legal doorstep.

Are your workers properly hydrated during the hot summer months? Not only could the heat affect them, but as they are affected they could also become a danger to others. Same with the cold of winter . . . Frostbite and exposure are serious problems that could end up being yours if you don't take the time to make sure they are not.

And what of drugs and alcohol? How many of you know of a slight problem, or let the Friday afternoon six pack hit the site? Gone are the days when that was fun and acceptable . . . Fun, sure . . . Acceptable, no! Not in today's world.

In an advanced society, as we have in the good ol' USA, being a business owner means more responsibility. And it's up to you to provide for the safety and well being of both your employees and the people they affect through their work.

So take a few minutes here and there and go over the safety aspects of your work. Be sure your crews are trained to recognize risk and deal with injury . . . and see our news article, "OSHA Hot Weather Tips," on page 72 of this issue...

Who knows . . .The life you save could be your own . . .

--God Bless

George Schmok, Publisher

PS - and remember this . . . The No. 3 cause of on-the-job death throughout all industries was homicide . . . what a world . . .

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June 18, 2019, 9:03 pm PDT

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