If you are an employee of a landscaper in Pennsylvania, you might be aware of the dangers posed by the equipment you use. But, do you know that you are also at a high risk of being poisoned? Does your employer provide safety training and personal protective equipment to keep you safe? These are Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, and non-compliance can be to your detriment.
Working in the field of landscaping will expose you to different types of chemicals and other hazards that could leave you with minor or severe skin irritations to poisoning that could even prove fatal. Being aware of the potential risks and knowing what to do if you are affected could mean the difference between life and death.
Potential sources of poisons
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has particular regulations regarding the use of chemicals on any worksite. Along with the requirements for clear labels on all products, a safety sheet must be available to provide relevant information in cases of emergencies. Here are the different ways in which poisons could affect you on the job:
- Fertilizers and pesticides — Working with chemical fertilizers and pesticides will be par for the course during lawn care and other garden maintenance, and precautions are necessary. Read the labels to learn the level of toxicity and make sure to wear the appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, long pants and long sleeves, to prevent skin-contact.
- Respiratory and ocular exposure— While toxic chemicals typically cause dermal exposure, some chemical fumes can be inhaled, resulting in respiratory problems. Eye protection is also vital because splashes and fumes can affect your eyes and cause permanent or temporary blindness.
- Poisonous plants— You may come across different types of poisonous plants, determined by the location of your work site. A comprehensive knowledge about the various risks can serve you well because even harmless looking plants could be poisonous — some of which are poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. These plants contain toxins that can cause rashes and blisters after skin contact. Giant hogweed is another threat that causes sunlight sensitivity and severe inflammation of the skin.
- Carbon monoxide — If you operate — or are in the presence of — gasoline powered equipment, you will be susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Working with machines such as a portable generator inside a building without sufficient ventilation, or running the engine of something like a lawn tractor inside a garage while doing repairs can be deadly. These situations can cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and even unconsciousness. Acute CO poisoning can result in permanent organ damage and can be fatal.
These facts may make your job sound like a deadly occupation, but it need not be. The secret is to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge that will enable you to recognize potential poison hazards and know how to avoid harm. However, there are resources available to you to ease your concerns about the unanticipated financial impact if you are poisoned while on a landscaping job. In these instances, you have the right to claim your medical expenses and lost wages from the Pennsylvania worker’s compensation program.