Most of the folks working on clients’ properties in our green industry services are young, many are inexperienced and a good number are seasonal. Each workday they’re tasked with driving service vehicles over busy roads and, when they arrive at their service stops, operating power equipment, almost all of which can injure or kill them if used inattentively or inappropriately.
Are there more dangerous professions than our green industry? Yes, but not many.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the green industry is the 10th most dangerous in the United States. The next nine most dangerous professions are: 9.) power line workers, 8.) farmers and ranchers, 7.) truck drivers, 6.) structural iron/steel workers, 5.) refuse/recyclable material collectors, 4.) roofers, 3.) aircraft pilots/engineers, 2.) fishers/fishing workers and, most dangerous of all, loggers.
Also, the National Institute for Occupational Safety recently reported that fatality rate for all industries at 3.8 per 100,000 workers, but the rate for workers performing green industry services stood at 25.1 per 100,000 workers.
Within the broader classification of the green industry, tree trimmers/pruners suffered the highest number of fatalities –179.9 per 100,000, according to NIOSH. Other green industry servicers also surpassed the national average with 15.4 fatalities per 100,000 being suffered by pesticide handlers and 10.1 per 100,000 for landscaping/grounds workers.
An excellent graphic entitled “7 Stupid Reasons People Get Hurt at Work” shared by BLR (Business & Legal Resources) explains in simple language why workplace accidents occur. BLR offered the information in a recent announcement to promote its Safety Culture 2017 event this coming Sept. 11-12 in Austin, Texas.
Thanks to BLR for offering the following seven stupid reasons people get hurt at work:
- Assumption of expertise: Employers may assume that new employees are already up to date on the latest safety trends, or that “common sense” will take over and help them avoid accidents. Experience, if nothing else, teaches us that it’s foolhardy to rely upon either, especially “common sense.”
- Fear of asking questions: Creating a comfortable and open work environment where employees feel empowered to ask the right questions is an important step for improving safety among new staff. The more questions they ask, the higher the likelihood of avoiding accidents in the workplace.
- Unfamiliar hazards: It doesn’t matter how seasoned an employee is — changing working environments can easily create new hazards they aren’t aware of that could end up causing harm down the line.
- Incomplete training: Teaching a new hire how to do something isn’t enough. In order to protect your workforce fully, you must fully train them around the hazards and safety best practices of their jobs — not just the skills they need to complete them.
- Unaware of hazardous substances: Hazardous substances may not be as easy to spot as blatant safety threats, which means properly training your staff on what to avoid and how to avoid them will protect them in the long run.
- Improper use of PPE: Personal protection equipment isn’t doing much protecting if it’s not used correctly. Educating your staff on the importance of their PPE and how to properly use and wear it will dramatically reduce safety issues resulting from improperly used PPE.
- Poor safety messaging: Improving safety messaging isn’t as simple as adding more rules. Effective safety messaging comes from employee engagement and buy-in, which is fostered from creating an effective safety culture at your workplace.
If you own or manage a green industry services company, don’t be negligent when it comes to workplace safety, especially in regards to inexperienced workers and new hires. BLR says that 30 percent of work-related injuries occur to workers who have been on the job for less than a year.