It looks like winter is finally coming to an end in most parts of the country. If the warmer weather means you’ll be directing workers to get outside, clear winter debris, and get your facility ready for spring, make sure they do it safely. Keep reading for 10 tips to share at an upcoming safety meeting—they may also serve as valuable reminders to workers who plan to spend the weekend gardening or doing other yardwork.
Safety tips for outside hazards—machinery, insects, heat, and more
- Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants when using lawn mowers and other machinery.
- Protect your hearing when operating machinery. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away, the noise can be potentially harmful to your hearing.
- Make sure equipment is working properly.
- Wear gloves to protect from skin irritations, cuts, and contaminants.
- Use insect repellant containing DEET.
- Follow instructions and warning labels on chemical and lawn and garden equipment. (As a reminder, if workers will be using consumer chemical products in amounts and/or frequencies that exceed typical consumer use, employers must obtain a safety data sheet (SDS) for the product, ensure that it is properly labeled, and train workers in its hazards and safe work practices.)
- Reduce the risk of sunburn and skin cancer by wearing long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunshades. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Keep an eye on the thermometer and take precautions in the heat.
- When working in hot weather, remind workers to drink plenty of liquids, but not those that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, as they can cause you to lose body fluid.
- Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness, including high body temperature, headache, dizziness, rapid pulse, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness.
And remember—if you hire a contractor for landscaping or other outdoor maintenance, it’s important to inquire about the company’s safety record and make sure they train and require employees to follow safe work practices. They may not be on your payroll, but if a contract worker is injured at your facility, OSHA can cite and fine not only the contractor, but the host employer as well.