By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Most people do not think of pruning bushes or planting flowers and trees as a hazardous occupation. But fatalities among workers in the landscaping industry are a growing problem, especially in the Southeast.
From 2012 to 2016, 64 people employed in the landscaping industry died as a result of workplace injuries. These deaths occurred in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In Florida, landscaping industry fatalities have nearly tripled since 2012, from six deaths in 2012 to 17 in 2016, OSHA reported. The exact causes of death were not cited, but working in excessive heat could be a contributing factor in that part of the country.
A collaborative effort is under way to help workers better understand the hazards they face and how to work more safely.
‘Safety Stand-Downs’ Will Educate Workers on Common Causes of Injury and Death
To stem the tide of fatalities, OSHA, the Associated General Contractors of Georgia Inc., and employers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi are banding together to sponsor a one-hour Safety Stand-Down this month. During this event, workers will learn about industry hazards that most commonly cause injury or death.
All landscaping work on all job sites will stop at the same time on one day, so that workers will meet and hear a focused safety talk. These meetings provide discussions on safety policies, goals and expectations for all construction teams and workplace employees.
The Safety Stand-Down will be held from 7 to 8 a.m. EDT at worksites throughout the Southeast on either April 17 or 18.
“We are confident that, with the proper knowledge, workers can avoid unnecessary injuries or worse, and return home at the end of each workday. Failing to develop, implement and maintain an effective safety and health program puts workers at risk of being injured on the job,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator for the Southeast.
Landscaping deaths are not just a regional problem. In 2014, OSHA ranked the five industries with the highest number of fatality investigations nationwide:
- Landscaping Services: 63
- Roofing Contractors: 57
- Highway, Street and Bridge Construction: 47
- Site Preparation Contractors: 38
- Logging: 38
OSHA: Nationwide ‘Safety Stand-Down’ Planned for May
OSHA will sponsor National Safety Stand-Down during the week of May 8-12, 2017, with the specific goal of preventing falls in construction.
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with groups committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Training materials are available in English and Spanish. For more information, call OSHA’s Region 4 Office at (678) 237-0400 or contact your local OSHA Area Office.
About the Author
David E. Hubler brings a variety of government, journalism and teaching experience to his position as a Quality Assurance Editor at APUS. David’s professional background includes serving as a senior editor at CIA and the Voice of America. He has also been a managing editor for several business-to-business and business-to-government publishing companies. David has taught high school English in Connecticut and at Northern Virginia Community College. He has a master’s degree for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire and a B.A. in English from New York University. David’s 2015 book, “The Nats and the Grays, How Baseball in the Nation’s Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever,” has just been published in paperback by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.