Summer Safety Tips for Groundskeepers

Working as a groundskeeper can present many hazards due to the use of heavy equipment, exposure to chemicals, loud machinery and elevated summer temperatures. It’s essential that groundskeepers always use appropriate personal protective equipment and exercise the utmost safety when using the tools and machinery needed for the job.

General Safety Tips

  • Check all equipment carefully for loose, broken or damaged parts. Repair equipment prior to use or replace entirely when necessary.
  • Never operate equipment without proper training.
  • Know the dangers associated with operating equipment while on medications that might impair judgment or reaction time.
  • Properly ground or double insulate electrically operated equipment.
  • Never operate gasoline- or diesel-powered equipment inside a building.
  • Rest periodically during strenuous jobs or when working in extreme weather conditions and stay hydrated.
  • Know where emergency numbers are posted and where first aid kits are located.
  • Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for each job.

Equipment Safety

The following guidelines should be adhered to when using grounds-keeping equipment:

Mower Safety

  • Keep hands and feet clear of the blade at all times.
  • Set the cutting deck higher when mowing on rough ground.
  • Disconnect the spark plug wire before servicing, adjusting or repairing the mower.
  • Make sure riding mowers are equipped with a working engine interlock and a “dead man” control.
  • NEVER carry passengers on riding-mowers or tractors.
  • Make sure tractor mowers are equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and seat belt. It is imperative that seatbelt use is enforced on ROPS-equipped tractors.

Edger Safety

  • Be sure the blade is disengaged before starting the engine.
  • Direct the discharge away from people, animals and glass.
  • Disengage the engine and wait for all parts to stop moving before adjusting or repairing any of the parts.

Powered Hedge Trimmer Safety

  • Do not operate the trimmer above chest height and keep the blades away from your body.
  • Stop the engine before cleaning or adjusting the machine.

Blower Safety

  • Blowers should not be used from ladders, trees, rooftops or other unstable surfaces.
  • Do not use blowers for spreading or misting chemicals, fertilizers or other toxic substances.

Fueling Safety

  • Remove fuel caps slowly, holding them in the semi-locked position until pressure is released from the fuel tank.
  • Move portable power equipment at least 10 feet from the fueling spot prior to turning it on.
  • Never smoke or have an open flame near any fueling areas.
  • Store fuel in an approved self-closing safety can.

Avoiding Heat-related Illness

Heat exhaustion includes a spectrum of conditions with minor symptoms, such as prickly heat or heat rash, and can progress to heat cramps and heat stroke — a life-threatening medical condition. The loss of about 1% of body water through sweating can be tolerated without serious effect. When sweat loss exceeds this amount, serious consequences of dehydration can arise.

There are several symptoms that workers should be aware of when working in extreme heat:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Reduced urination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Tips for staying safe in high temps:

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-induced illnesses and what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Perform the heaviest work in the coolest part of the day and slow the pace of work.
  • Drink plenty of cool water (one small cup every 15 to 20 minutes).
  • Take frequent short breaks in cool shaded areas.
  • Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages, which make the body lose water.
  • Dress in light-colored, lightweight clothing.

Want to know more?

If you’re an Accident Fund policyholder, log onto our website and check out our WorkSafe Toolbox™ and other available safety tools. If you’re not a customer, click here for additional safety information. Or click here to find an Accident Fund agent near you.

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