The world certainly would have less curb appeal if landscapers went on strike. Not only do landscaping teams bring visual appeal to green spaces, but also they can help make those areas safer. Unfortunately, in their efforts to create secure, beautiful environments for others, landscapers often put their health and wellness at risk in the form of occupational injuries.
Even small injuries can leave a landscaper out of work for weeks. Therefore, having the opportunity to rely on Workers’ Compensation can be a relief. As such, many landscapers file for Workers’ Compensation benefits after accidents. Summertime is when outdoor employee Workers’ Compensation claims tend to rise, owing to the proliferation of residential and commercial landscaping needs from April through October.
Of course, no landscaper wants to have to report an injury any time of the year. For that reason, landscapers should understand the types of injuries most common to their jobs, as well as how to avoid presentable accidents that can lead to medical treatments or, in extreme cases, fatalities.
What Makes Landscaping a Challenging Business?
Most people who are not involved in the landscaping business never think about how risky it can be as an occupation. Like any career or part-time work that involves a high degree of physical labor, landscaping puts employees at risk of suffering a wide array of injuries. Some of the more commonly reported ones include the following:
- Being struck by an object: This could be anything from a falling tree limb to a rock that is shot away from the motor of a high-powered engine. Flying objects can cause anything from mild bruises to serious traumatic brain injuries (TBI), depending on the situation.
- Getting hurt while operating equipment: Landscapers must handle many different types of equipment, from backhoes to chainsaws. Each piece of equipment requires proper care and training to operate it successfully. Even a tiny mistake could lead to a major workplace injury.
- Being exposed to chemicals: Many people ask landscapers to use harsh chemicals on their lawns or in pools. Coming in contact with those chemicals can lead to skin, eye, and lung burns. Some people may also experience headaches when they come in close contact with some chemicals.
- Slipping and falling: Surfaces such as grassy areas, patios, driveways, and pool decks can become slick. Landscaping professionals may slide and hurt themselves, causing a slipped disk, broken wrist, or bruised tailbone.
- Breaking a bone: Broken bones are not uncommon among landscapers. Any broken bone can leave a landscaper unable to continue working for a period of time.
- Getting electrocuted: Thunderstorms can pop up, even on brilliantly sunny days. It is possible for landscapers to be electrocuted by stray lightning bolts. The risk for electrocution is also high if a landscaper is working around electric poles or systems.
- Experiencing heat exhaustion or stroke: Working outside for hours, even in cooler weather, requires constant hydration. Losing just a little water can cause the effects of heat exhaustion, which can turn into heat stroke very fast. Heat stroke is extremely serious because it can compromise the functions of the heart, lungs, and brain.
- Getting cuts or severe bruises: Landscaping tools need to be tough enough to get the job done. However, they can also cause physical damage if they topple onto an employee or land incorrectly.
It is worth noting that some landscapers also worry about the possibility of contracting diseases spread by insects. Although this is not a top reason for a landscaper to submit a Workers’ Compensation claim, it is one to consider.
How can I Protect Myself While Employed as a Landscaper?
People who work in the landscaping field owe it to themselves to do everything they can to mitigate and minimize their risks. That way, they will be less likely to need Workers’ Compensation to help cover their costs after an occupational accident.
The following list gives some ways for landscapers to increase their safety on the job with and without the help of their supervisors:
- Learn how to use all equipment properly: Employees of landscaping companies must advocate for themselves if they believe they are not adequately trained to operate equipment, machinery, and tools. Workers need to feel confident working with all the items they intend to use on a day-to-day basis. Their comfort will help reduce the chance of an injury.
- Wear proper gear: Plenty of landscapers wear long pants, high boots, and long-sleeve shirts, even on 90-degree days. Their goal is to reduce skin exposure and provide extra layers of protection. Dressing appropriately for the job makes sense, even if it might feel warm in jeans on a July afternoon.
- Drink plenty of water: Employees of landscapers need to stay hydrated all day. The best way to do that is to bring along several bottles of water. If the water needs to be stored in a hot truck, it can be frozen the night before. Throughout the day, it will slowly melt and remain cool.
- Work at a consistent, yet safe, pace: It can be tempting to rush through landscaping work, especially if the work seems easy. However, rushing can lead to accidents. Landscape workers should pace themselves in order to get the job done without putting themselves in harm’s way.
- Store items properly: Organized tools are safer tools. Employees should have specific spots for all landscaping equipment. Pieces of equipment on shelves or hung from ceilings inside trucks should be secured during transport.
- Test and maintain equipment: Machines malfunction from time to time. Checking all landscaping equipment at regular intervals lessens the chance of a lawnmower problem or the head of an axe flying off mid-swing.
What if I Get Hurt as a Landscaping Employee?
Landscaping professionals who are injured on the job should get immediate medical attention, especially if their wounds may be life-threatening or require emergency treatment. They should also inform their employer about the accident both in writing and in person, or over the phone. Any employer in New Jersey or Pennsylvania must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance by law. Therefore, landscaping employees should feel confident asking for a Workers’ Compensation claim form.
After filling and filing the Workers’ Compensation claim document, the injured employee should continue to go to all doctor appointments. Not going for treatments could make it seem as if the injury were not serious or debilitating.
If the Workers’ Compensation insurance provider or employer denies the initial claim, the employee can appeal the decision. Plenty of landscaping workers opt to bring a Workers’ Compensation lawyer into the picture at this point. Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help potential clients understand their options. They can also discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit if the injury was caused by the negligence of a third party, such as the maker or seller of defective landscaping equipment.
Above all else, hurt workers deserve to know that even if they are only employed seasonally, they have a right to Workers’ Compensation medical, temporary total, permanent partial, or perhaps permanent total benefits depending on the type and severity of their injuries.
Burlington County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen Help Injured Landscape Workers Know Their Rights
If you were injured in a landscaping accident, reach out to the Burlington County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC for assistance. We will work to ensure you can properly recover, receive the services for which you are entitled, and recover compensation if warranted. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey; and Trevose, Pennsylvania. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.