For lawn care and landscaping companies still operating during the coronavirus crisis, following comprehensive safety guidelines is crucial. Below are some COVID-19 safety recommendations from the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association (PLNA):
- Contact and get permission from clients to be serviced — preferably in a documented format such as email or other time/date stamped electronic communication.
- Implement daily all-staff communications within the company to inform, educate, and reinforce Standard Operating Procedures, best management practices, and possible next steps.
- Relax attendance policies to allow any employee who is uncomfortable working to stay home and use paid time off or apply for unemployment.
- Train crew personnel to be able to respond to questions from the public in a professional manner. (While maintaining social distancing.)
- Enforce cleaning and sanitation protocols for all common spaces including trucks and equipment. (Remember tools, handles, steering wheels, etc.)
- Stagger crew start times to minimize congregation at office/shop locations.
- Limit crews to ONE person per truck and have all other crew personnel drive directly to the job site.
- Assign one truck to one crew and do not rotate.
- Minimize use of shared equipment and tools.
- Wear gloves as much as possible, removing only to eat or drink.
- If you must work in close proximity to another for a short period of time (i.e. lifting a tree ball into a hole), wear a face mask.
- Be prepared to shutdown at any moment.
While the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) urges its members to follow CDC guidelines, it has also provided COVID-19 safety procedures from a few members as reference. While different, each policy had some specifics worth thinking about beyond the basics. Pacific Landscape Management in Hillsboro, OR, has a plan that mentions setting up wash stations, instructing employees to bring water jugs to use hand soap left in trucks for field work, and flexible policies to permit employees to stay at home to care for a sick family member. Sun Valley Landscaping in Omaha, NE , recognizing different employees conduct their jobs differently, broke down its guidelines by position. It included very specific COVID-19 safety rules on social distancing, disinfecting, and bathroom use. For instance, those in the field are instructed to “use designated porta potty for field staff. Wash hands thoroughly and wipe down any surfaces touched prior.” Additionally, “Any time you are disinfecting, wear a clean pair of gloves and then throw away after disinfecting.”