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Ohio State University Extension


Introduction to Safety in Landscaping and Horticulture Services for Trainers and Supervisors

Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Agricultural Safety and Health Program

Objective: Explain why safety training is important and how it can reduce incidents.

Trainer’s Note

What makes safety important? Who is responsible for safety? What are some general safety tips? For this module:

  • Review the basic information about safety.
  • Provide some actual examples of safety hazards and health risks. Ask workers to share their own experiences.
  • Present and discuss general safety tips.
  • Review the important points.
  • Have workers take the True/False quiz to check their learning.


In the United States, the green industries rank high in work-related fatalities. Many incidents involve some type of machinery or equipment. Most injuries and incidents are predictable and preventable. Illnesses and health problems can also occur easily—green industry work involves exposure to weather and natural hazards and dangerous chemicals. Workers in the green industries must learn and practice safe working habits.

Cost Time and Money

Unsafe practices can cause injuries and sometimes even death. They involve intangible losses. You will lose time while you recover. Medical and therapy bills will add up. Worst of all, you might not be able to work as you did before the incident. Safety is too expensive not to be taken seriously. Injury costs reduce the profit margin, and in the worst cases, cost lives.

Why Risk Your Health?

A bee sting is unpleasant at least, and it can be fatal. Pesticides and caustic chemicals can cause long-term, serious health problems. Dust and mold can cause chronic lung problems. The hot summer sun can cause sunstroke and heat exhaustion, and winter can cause frostbite. How can you avoid those health risks?

Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility

It is up to workers in the green industries to use safe working practices. All workers can contribute to each other’s safety. Remember—machinery operators aren’t the only ones who get injured.

General Tips for a Safe Working Environment

  • A good safety program starts with a safety status assessment.
  • Make safety everyone’s concern. This includes family, workers, visitors, and you.
  • Be aware of what you are doing and your surroundings. Most injuries happen during routine, everyday tasks.
  • Sometimes, you cannot handle a task alone. If you can’t, ask for help.
  • Take short rest breaks. Don’t over-exert yourself—don’t get so tired you get careless.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay away from equipment if you are angry. Wait a little while until you cool down.
  • Train new equipment operators before they work on their own.
  • Read the operator’s manual for all equipment.
  • Wear the proper Personal Protection Equipment for everyday tasks and for specific jobs. You may need protective footwear with ankle support. You may also need close-fitting clothing.

For more information, refer to the other modules in this series, Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services. They are listed below, organized in some basic areas.


  • Introduction to Safety in Landscaping and Horticultural Services
  • Caught-In or Caught-Between Accidents
  • Color Coding
  • First-Aid Kits
  • First on the Scene
  • Non-Vented Heaters
  • Preventing Falls
  • Proper Use of Ladders
  • Spraying Paint
  • Stress Management
  • Struck-By Incidents
  • Substance Abuse and Unsafe Practices
  • Task Lighting
  • Trenching and Excavation Safety
  • Workplace Violence

Vehicle Safety

  • Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) Placarding
  • Hand Signals for Vehicle Safety
  • Rollovers and Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS)
  • Safe Use of Tractors and Self-Propelled Equipment
  • Safely Starting and Stopping a Tractor
  • Safety Means SMV (Slow Moving Vehicle)
  • Tractors, Towed Equipment, and Highway Safety


  • Chemical Skin Irritants
  • Choosing Spray Nozzles
  • Laundering Pesticide-Contaminated Clothing
  • Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • Mixing and Spraying Pesticides
  • Pesticide Exposure
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for Pesticides
  • Properly Cleaning and Storing Respirators
  • Reading Pesticide Labels
  • Respirator Fit
  • Selecting a Respirator

Lawn Equipment

  • No Riders on Lawn Equipment
  • Power Lawn Mowers
  • Rotary Lawn and Brush Mower Safety
  • Equipment with Cutter Bars or Blades

Tools and Machinery

  • Arc Welding Safety
  • Battery Safety
  • Chain Saw Safety
  • Chock and Block
  • Gas Welding Safety
  • Lockout and Tagout
  • Power-Take-Off (PTO) Shielding
  • Preventing Machine Hazards
  • Safe Operation of Portable Circular Power Saws
  • Safe Use of Hand-Held Tools
  • Safe Use of Hydraulic Systems
  • Safe Use of Jacks
  • Safe Use of the Power-Take-Off (PTO)
  • Small Engine Machine Safety
  • Wood Chippers and Shredders


  • Bucket Trucks and Aerial Lifts
  • Preventing Falls from Trees
  • Tree Pruning and Ladder Safety
  • Tree Pruning, Trimming, and Felling Safety

Personal Protection

  • Personal Eye Protection
  • Protecting Against Noise
  • Protecting Hands and Fingers
  • Protecting the Head
  • Protective Gloves
  • Repetitive Motion

Electricity and Fire

  • Electrical Shock
  • Grounding Electricity
  • Overhead Electrical Hazards
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • Safe Use of Flammable Liquids

Material Handling

  • Equipment and Plant Transport
  • Forklift Safety
  • Loading Docks and Warehouses
  • Material Handling Devices
  • Preventing Lifting and Over-Exertion Injuries
  • Safe Use of Hand Pallet Trucks and Electric Carts
  • Tractor Loader Safety

Weather and Natural Hazards

  • Bee, Wasp, Hornet, and Yellow Jacket Stings
  • Dust and Mold
  • Heat Stress
  • Hypothermia, Frostbite, and Trench Foot
  • Mosquito Bites
  • Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac
  • Protecting Against Cold
  • Skin Irritations Caused by Plants
  • Spider Bites
  • Sun Exposure
  • Thorn Bushes
  • Tick Bites

Review These Important Points

  • There are many work-related incidents in landscape and horticultural services.
  • Safety is everyone’s responsibility.
  • Safety is too expensive to learn by injury, which has many major costs.
  • You can make the working environment safer by following a few simple safety measures.

About These Modules
The author team for the training modules in the landscape and horticultural tailgate training series includes Dee Jepsen, Program Director, Agricultural Safety and Health, Ohio State University Extension; Michael Wonacott, Research Specialist, Vocational Education; Peter Ling, Greenhouse Specialist; and Thomas Bean, Agricultural Safety Specialist. Modules were developed with funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Grant Number 46E3-HT09.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Department of Labor.

Answer Key

1. F

2. T

3. T

4. T

5. F


Quiz: Introduction to Safety in Landscaping and Horticulture Services



True or False?

1. Only machinery operators need to worry about safety.     T     F

2. “Green industry” jobs have a high number of work-related fatalities.     T     F

3. The first step in a landscape and horticultural safety program is a safety status assessment.     T     F

4. Injury costs reduce the profit margin of your operation.     T     F

5. Wearing the proper PPE is only important if you are working with pesticides.     T     F

Originally posted Jun 4, 2018.