The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplaces to ensure employees have safe work conditions. It also helps workers get the training and education they need to be safe and effective on the job site. In an industry such as landscaping, you might wonder what OSHA requirements you must follow.
Starting a landscaping business requires purchasing equipment, hiring workers, marketing your business, and maintaining a customer database. On top of all the daily work, you also need to prioritize workplace safety.
There are landscaping business OSHA requirements that fall in line with the general OSHA standards. Since landscaping activities may have elements of risk that can result in injury for your or your crew, you want to ensure you follow all guidance to protect your workers and your business.
OSHA’s priority is keeping workers safe on the job. Their general guidelines adhere to this practice, but alliances within the organization exist. The landscaping alliance is the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).
Some regulations apply specifically to landscaping businesses. For example, if you use a crane to trim trees, you must provide all workers with fall protection gear. They should wear a hard hat if a limb comes down when they’re not expecting it. Teach them to be aware of any potential hazard so they can instantly protect themselves.
Other hazards in the landscaping business include:
An aid kit can significantly improve workers’ conditions in case of minor injuries. Training is always crucial, especially if they’re operating power equipment. Offering ear protection can protect against hearing loss when they use loud tools or equipment. Ensuring your team sticks to safety practices can help keep everyone in good shape.
You and your team can take an OSHA-authorized course to learn about safety on the job. Completing the safety training course or boot camp means your business earns certification from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
While you want to adhere to the safety procedures for landscape professionals, there are some guidelines that all businesses must follow. They must prominently display an OSHA poster so all workers know what their employer must legally provide for them.
Workers’ Rights are the main priority for OSHA. The document covers many types of work, such as:
Within those broad categories are four groups of more specific standards. They are:
One primary OSHA regulation is training workers to complete all aspects of their job safely. You must also inform employees of potential hazards when they’re on the job. Safety is a significant concern when they’re working with chemicals, which can harm their skin, eyes, and airways.
You can understand how this applies to landscaping businesses because your employees might use chemicals to treat lawns. If your workers use chemicals, you must also provide safety gear, such as safety glasses, a face mask, and personal protective equipment.
Employers must also provide safety harnesses for workers at risk of a fall from a great height. There should be guards on any machine that could harm a person without notice. If you’re working in a trench or in an area with asbestos or lead, the employer must provide protection and prevent exposure as much as possible.
Businesses that ask a lot of their employees, such as physical exertion or completion of tasks that could be detrimental to their hearing and vision, must provide medical exams. OSHA covers hearing and vision tests and physicals for employees, who get access to all results, so they understand how the job impacts their health.
Workers who don’t believe their employer provides a safe workplace and adequate training have the right to file a formal complaint with OSHA. The information is confidential, so employees can report unsafe conditions without fear of workplace repercussions.
Most businesses work hard to remain OSHA compliant. However, there are six types of OSHA violations, including:
De Minimis violations are minor issues that don’t put anyone’s health or safety at risk. A window might be an inch higher than regulation, or a ladder’s rungs are farther apart than what OSHA approves. This occurrence goes into your business case file, but there’s no financial or legal penalty for this violation.
Other-than-Serious violations don’t put your workers at risk but show that you’re acting carelessly. Examples include storing chemicals precariously or not displaying safety notices. The OSHA inspector can assign any fine to these issues, depending on the potential risk to your employees.
Serious violations put your workers at risk of injury or death. You’re committing a serious violation if your employees don’t wear hard hats and harnesses when they’re trimming trees. OSHA inspectors start fining for these penalties with a $12,500 fee but can change it at their discretion based on your inspection history.
Willful violations are the most serious, costing a fine of $125,000 per incident. If you send a worker up in a crane you know isn’t working properly, you’re willfully putting them at risk of death or injury. If something happens to your employee, you could go to criminal court and pay fines of $250,000 and higher, along with spending six months in jail.
Repeated violations occur when you ignore a previous citation and get another penalty during the subsequent inspection. Whenever the OSHA inspector alerts you about a violation, even if it’s De Minimis, you need to fix the problem.
Failure to Abate means you had a set amount of time to rectify a violation but didn’t meet the deadline. The OSHA inspector fines your business $7,000 per day until you solve the issue.
OSHA inspectors don’t give you advanced notice of a visit, so you want to ensure you’re following the landscaping business OSHA requirements at all times. Always display the OSHA poster and have a written safety plan all employees understand. You should oversee workers to ensure they follow proper use regarding power equipment, chemicals, and other potential hazards.
If you’re unsure how your landscaping business would fare in an OSHA inspection, you can contact your state board to conduct a free walk-through. The inspector tells you what wouldn’t pass an official visit so you can fix the issues before they become major violations.