Work Hazards That Put Mississippi Landscapers at Risk
Landscape and ground maintenance jobs are among the most dangerous in the US.
Safety standards and protective equipment help keep landscapers safe, but work accidents still happen. Common landscaping injuries include heat exhaustion, burns, lacerations, bruises, amputations, broken bones, lung damage, muscle strain and pain, hearing loss, illness due to chemical exposure, head trauma, and eye injuries. Sometimes, work accidents involving landscapers are fatal.
In Mississippi, injured landscapers may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Workers' comp can pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and provide wage benefits, but navigating the process is not easy, and sometimes workers are denied the treatment they need. Often, hiring an experienced workers' compensation attorney is the best way to protect your rights and get the benefits you're entitled to under Mississippi law.
Risks to Mississippi landscapers
The landscape profession includes jobs like greenhouse worker, hardware clerk, lawn care specialist, landscape laborer, mason, irrigation tech, groundskeeper, gardener, hardscape supervisor, machine operator, and arborist.
Researchers have identified some of the top risks to landscaper and groundskeeper health and safety, including:
- Hand tools. Pruning shears, lawn mowers, grass trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, pole saws, chainsaws, spreaders, and sprayers are just some of the hand-held power tools that landscapers regularly use. If a worker loses control of one of these, injuries like severed fingers, deep cuts, amputation, burns, knee trauma, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are possible.
- Mowers. The machine's sharp, rapidly spinning blades can injure the person operating the mower. It is also possible for the mower to roll over and crush the driver. To avoid mower rollovers, mow up and down slopes instead of side to side.
- Electricity. Underground and overhead power lines, extension cords, and gas-powered engines are all over a typical landscaper worksite. As a result, electrocution is one of the leading causes of landscape worker injury and death. While electrocution injuries are typically due to direct contact with a power source, in landscaping, electricity can get to a worker and cause damage through indirect contact with tree limbs, poles, tools, and uninsulated ladders.
- Holes and debris. Unexpected divots and pits, as well as rocks, sticks, and other debris, can easily mess with the normal process of landscape machinery. For example, debris can be chopped up and sprayed asunder by a mower, or a worker could be injured trying to free a hedge trimmer caught in plastic trash. In addition, employees can injure their ankles or knee if they trip and fall into a hole or slip on something wet.
- Heat. Working in the sun without shade, rest, or adequate hydration can lead to severe heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include dizziness, muscle cramps, and nausea. To avoid heat exhaustion, landscapers can cool off in an air-conditioned environment, use cold compresses, and drink plenty of fluids. Heat stroke is more serious. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, confusion, headache, no visible perspiration, and loss of consciousness. This requires a call to 911 and emergency medical care.
- Vibrations. Over-exposure to heavy vibrations from power saws, mowers, and trimmers can weaken muscles over time and cause joint damage. In addition, sound waves due to loud noises from equipment like chippers and blowers can cause hearing loss. Therefore, when using power tools is standard on a job, employers are usually required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate the impact vibrations have on workers' bodies and ears. They must also provide training on properly using the equipment and how to pace work to limit strain.
- Chemical exposure. Landscapers work with harmful chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, gasoline, and cleaning fluids. Employers have a duty to train employees on the proper use and storage of these substances as well as provide appropriate PPE. Chemicals used at work should not be expired or held in non-standard containers. Goggles, gloves, and face masks that filter out harmful particles can protect the throat, lungs, eyes, and skin.
Contact a Mississippi workers' compensation attorney today.
If you're a landscaper in Mississippi and you were injured while on the job, you have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits. In some cases involving the negligence of a third party, such as a subcontractor, you may also be eligible to file a third-party lawsuit for losses not covered by workers' comp, such as pain and suffering. The key is to seek legal advice as soon as possible so you can clearly understand your legal rights and options.
At Tabor Law Firm, P.A., our highly skilled workers' compensation lawyers have over 30 years of combined legal experience helping injured workers find their way forward. Our attorneys can help you navigate the confusing workers’ compensation system and will fight to get your case the best possible outcome.
To see what an experienced litigation team with a winning record in Mississippi can do for you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Jackson and Ridgeland and serve injured workers statewide.