Landscaping has many potential dangers that can cause a work injury.
Compared to many other industries, working in landscaping comes with a heightened risk of injury and illness for employees. However, for professional landscapers in New York, understanding mandatory safety standards and how to identify hazards can reduce the risk of suffering an on-the-job injury.
Unfortunately, landscaping injuries still happen. Even the most careful landscaper or groundskeeper can sustain a heat-related illness, lung damage, broken bones due to accidental falls, hearing loss, burns, and eye damage, among other severe injuries. Sometimes, there are fatal landscaping accidents.
Workplace accidents are an unfortunate reality for many landscapers in New York and often lead to piles of medical bills and lost income due to missed time at work.
However, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you’re an injured landscaper in New York. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your landscaping injuries, you may also be eligible to pursue a third-party claim against the person or entity responsible for your accident.
The key is to talk to an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney who can review the details of your case, identify all potential sources of compensation, and clearly explain your legal options.
Landscapers face many types of safety hazards throughout the workday. Here are some of the industry’s most common risks:
- Mowers. Accidents involving lawn mowers cause about 70,000 injuries in the US every year. Lacerations, amputations, and disfigurements are common after a lawnmower accident. Safety is improved when mowers are regularly maintained, and grounds are checked for holes and cleared of debris before starting equipment. It is best practice to mow up and down slopes instead of across to reduce mower rollovers. In addition, workers should remember to turn off the machine when refueling.
- Hand tools. Sliced fingertips, deep cuts and bruises, burns, and punctures are among the types of injuries a landscaper can suffer if they lose control of a powered hand tool. Tool blades that are maintained and kept sharp reduce the risk of injuries. Dull blades require greater pressure to make cuts, leading to muscle strain, equipment damage, and dangerous accidents. Availability and training on how to correctly use personal protective equipment (PPE), like goggles and face masks to decrease debris inhalation, are important safety measures.
- Heat. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common risks outdoor workers face, especially during summer. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, muscle cramps, and nausea. Heat exhaustion can be treated by going inside where air conditioning is available, applying cold compresses, and drinking fluids. Symptoms of heat stroke include headache, mental confusion, rapid heart rate, no visible perspiration, and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke requires a call to 911 and emergency medical care. Providing employees with plenty of water, rest, and shade can help prevent heat-related illnesses.
- Obstacles and electricity. There are many physical obstacles landscapers overcome daily on the job: tree limbs, vines, overgrown bushes, power lines, fences, unpruned shrubberies, below-ground pipes, wires, and holes. When workers are not adequately trained or given the right equipment and PPE, the risk of an obstacle causing injury - like electrocution - is significantly increased.
- Vibrations. Over time, the reverberations caused by powerful landscaping tools, like riding mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and chainsaws can cause numbness and muscle weakness. It’s called “vibration syndrome.” Unabated exposure to equipment vibrations can cause severe injuries in less than one year. These may include shoulder, neck, and back pain, poor circulation, or muscle and nervous system damage. Frequent breaks while using vibrating tools, a loose grip, well-maintained machinery, and shock-absorbing PPE can lower the injury risk.
- Noise. It is also worth noting that vibrations from loud noises created by tools like gas-powered leaf blowers and electric saws can lead to permanent hearing loss. In many noisy industries, employers are required to provide employees with appropriate hearing protection. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone 3 feet away or closer, you are almost certainly exposed to potentially damaging noise levels.
- Chemical exposure. Landscapers work with a lot of strong chemicals and organic material. These include pesticides, herbicides, cleaning fluids, gasoline, and other flammable, acidic, or skin-irritating substances. Employers have a duty to properly train employees on how to use and store these chemicals safely. Chemicals should not be expired or held in non-standard containers. Workers must be given proper PPE to prevent chemical eye injuries, inhalation, or burns.
Put your trust in a law firm that fights for New York’s injured.
In New York, injured workers have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. However, the claims process can be tough to navigate on your own. When you’re injured, you should be focused on healing—not filling out confusing paperwork and making phone calls all day to keep your claim moving forward.
The best workers’ compensation lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources to guide their clients through every step of the claims process from start to finish.
At Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, we’ve been fighting for injured workers in New York for over 80 years. In addition, our law firm has represented over 100,000 clients and recovered over $1 billion in awards and settlements.
If you were injured in a work accident, learn more about how we can help by contacting us today to schedule a free case consultation. We proudly serve the entire New York City area, including Westchester and Rockland counties, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.