Eye injuries, amputations, cuts, insect bites, heat stroke, slips and falls are among the plethora of risks landscape workers face every day, according to health and safety officials.
To help address those risks, the Cayman Islands Department of Labour and Pensions recently ran a safety training course for the islands’ grounds maintenance and landscaping workers.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 230,000 people per year are treated for injuries resulting from various lawn and garden tools and equipment, including lawn mowers, trimmers, edgers, and other power tools.
“Many hazards associated with landscaping are time based, meaning that an injury may not occur right away but an employee could suffer, for example, chemical poisoning through absorption or inhalation over a period of time, which ultimately might lead the employee to becoming seriously ill,” said Gene Hydes, the department’s senior labor inspector.
Mr. Hydes, an occupational health and safety trainer, led the presentations, which highlighted landscaping hazards, safe work practices, what to do during accidents and emergencies, and some aspects of the local labor laws.
Thirteen participants, including 11 from the Ritz-Carlton and two from the Marriott hotel, received certificates after completing the certification course for landscaping.
Mario Ebanks, director of the Department of Labour and Pensions, said by teaching landscapers how to do the job correctly, they would be better equipped to keep their customers and employers happy.
Otis Wright, a landscaping worker at the Ritz-Carlton for more than a year, said the course opened his eyes to a lot of safety issues, including the potential dangers involved in climbing trees, operating machinery and using chemicals.
Dinesh Jayarathne, the landscaping manager at the Ritz-Carlton, said the landscaping course was informative for his workers
Mr. Jayarathne said workers were already practicing many of the lesson they had learned in the course.
Henrik Lindhardt has been providing residential and commercial landscape and maintenance service in Grand Cayman for nearly 30 years. He said his company tries to keep abreast of safety issues because some jobs in landscaping can be dangerous if workers do not know what they are doing.
Pruning trees, he said, was probably among the most dangerous work for landscapers as they have to climb trees with cutting equipment and dodge any electrical lines overhead.
Using proper safety equipment, like hard hats, eye protection, ear phones and gloves, assists in prevention of injuries, Mr. Lindhardt said.
According to the Department of Labour and Pensions, landscaping needs in Cayman are changing and the department keeps its occupational safety and health training courses up to date.
The cost of the course was picked up by private companies but according to Mr. Hydes, it provides long-term gain.