Fatal work injuries in the professional and business sector were down 16 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The landscape services sector led this trend recording 130 fatalities in 2010, down from 168 the previous year. Statistics for 2011 will be available later this summer. Hopefully, that number will reflect even fewer industry fatalities.

Regardless, those statistics, like those already cited, now matter only as historical references. What we do now and the remainder of this season to reduce on-the-job injuries and deaths is what matters.

From year to year somewhere between 25 to 30 percent of industry fatalities happen to landscapers identified as self-employed. I wasn’t surprised by that number. If a person is working all alone on a job site and something goes wrong, who is there to help them?

Obviously, if you own and operate a company with employees you need to implement and commit to regularly scheduled safety training. And this includes emphasizing safe driving. About 30 percent of all landscape fatalities are due to transportation incidents. The next largest groups of fatalities result from falls, being struck by falling objects and by electrocution, many of these occurring to tree workers. Tree trimming and removal is not for beginners or the careless. One final stat: More than half of industry fatalities occur on private property.

As I mentioned to start this short piece, we’re making progress in reducing landscape related fatalities. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

Here are some great sources of information that you can use to educate yourself and share
with your employees:

OSHA PLANET Alliance Safety & Health Topics Page
www.osha.gov/ SLTC/landscaping/index.html

California State Compensation Insurance Fund Bi-lingual Training www.scif.com/safety/safetymeeting/SafetyMtgTopics.asp

Farm Safety Association Inc. (Canada) www.fsai.on.ca/manuals/manual-landtips.pdf

Kansas State University Research and Extension and College of Agriculture, www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/Landscaping_Equipment_Safety.html

Ohio State Univ. College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences,
Landscape Worker Bi-lingual Training ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/192/index.html

Oregon Health and Science University, Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology www.croetweb.com/links.cfm?subtopicID=547

PLANET Safety Tip Sheets www.landcarenetwork.org/cms/programs/safety.html