From mowing to removing snow, your groundskeeping crew is busy year round. That means daily risk of on-the-job injuries, which can lead to decreased productivity and increased workers compensation costs for employers. Common landscaping injuries come from vehicle crashes, mower rollovers, slips, trips, falls, and unprotected eyes and ears. Here are some tips to ensure your groundskeeping and facilities teams work safely while mowing and landscaping.
Policies can be the key to success
MEM recommends businesses start by developing the following policies:
- Seat belt policy that addresses safety among your fleet drivers and passengers.
- Drug-free workplace policy that includes post-offer, new-hire, and post injury screenings whenever possible.
- Safety rules that address proper footwear, eye protection, hearing protection and safe handling of fuels and equipment.
Translate these policies and be sure to make them available to employees that speak English as a second language. Use OSHA’s webpage for additional safety information.
Put your policies into action with strategies
- Inspect machines and tools for missing guards, poor repairs, vibration or excess noise and other unsafe conditions.
- Hold employee safety meetings on a regular basis. Employees need to know about common injuries and how to protect themselves.
- Conduct training on how to safely and properly use complicated machines like zero-turn mowers and snow plow equipment.
- Provide new hires with safety training from the beginning. MEM statistics show that new hires are over-represented in worker injuries.
- Enforce safety rules. Develop a progressive disciplinary action program and document all disciplinary action taken.
- Report injuries to your insurer as soon as possible. MEM statistics show that injuries reported to the insurer within 24 hours are resolved quicker, at a lower cost.
- Investigate all injuries. You may have a product liability situation, or a fraudulent work comp claim that may not be compensable. Investigate all injuries by photographing the scene and get everything in writing.
- Develop a written transitional duty, return to work program. A return to work program brings injured workers back to work, with doctor’s restrictions. This strategy is an excellent way to get employees back to full-duty faster, and lower the claim costs.
Know your rights as a business owner. In Missouri, when employees are injured and a written safety rule is broken or a post-injury drug screen is positive, workers compensation benefits could be reduced up to 50%. Communicate with employees that safety rules keep crews injury-free, and if they don’t follow them, they could incur penalties.