Landscaping Safety and Health

A NIOSH report shows that the service sector has approximately 68 million workers in industries ranging from finance to food service and real estate to recreation. The purpose of the National Occupational Research Agenda’s (NORA) sector and cross-sector councils is to exchange information, form partnerships, and enhance dissemination and implementation of prevention tools.

To help meet these goals, the NORA Service Sector Council will hold meetings on three focus areas in 2017.  The first of these meetings was held on January 19, 2017 by webinar and focused on the health and safety of landscape professionals.

Landscape work includes the installation and maintenance of lawns, shrubs, plants, and trees. Landscaping is one of the highest hazard industries in the service sector. The fatality rate per 100,000 workers in the landscaping industry is 25.1 compared to 3.8 for all industries.

When viewed by occupation, fatality rates per 100,000 workers are as follows:  tree trimmer/pruners (179.9), pesticide handlers (15.4), landscaping/groundskeeping workers (10.1), and all occupations (3.8).

Non-fatal injuries are also disproportionately high, with injuries occurring most commonly from contact with objects/equipment, falls from elevation, and transportation.

The NIOSH report also reveals California’s drought, and the recent deluge of rain, has caused tree and landscaping work to be more frequently performed, contributing to 26 tree trimmers dying on the job in California between 2012 and 2015.

In New Jersey, legislation known as the Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act (NJ Public Law, Chapter 237, §45:15C; 11-31) was passed, and the Rules are currently being established. The Act creates the titles “Licensed Tree Expert” and “Licensed Tree Care Operator,” and requires at least one person in each company that performs tree-care services to be licensed. The Act also requires New Jersey businesses performing tree-care work to register with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, and to document worksite training.