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Helping your customers—and employees—avoid slips, trips, and falls

Watering plants with a hoseIt won’t be long before customers ready for the spring planting season arrive at your business. But there are some things you need to do first to help make it a safe experience and, at the same time, reduce the risk of costly workers’ compensation injuries. Here are some tips to avoid common hazards.

Injuries tend to fall in two main categories—those caused by slips, trips, and falls, and injuries caused by improperly lifting heavy items. The first can be addressed with some simple housekeeping:

  • Post clear warnings: Let customers and employees know that when the hoses are out, the water they leave behind can make floors slippery. Place slip, trip, and fall signs to make everyone aware of the dangers around them. Algae is also something to look out for, since it can create a very slippery surface.
  • Unclutter walkways: Small plants and displays can be a hazard if left in the way of foot traffic. It’s especially true if something is on the floor and can’t be seen around a corner. Also look for low-hanging items—such as flower baskets—to protect a customer or employee from hitting their head.
  • Use proper equipment and training: Make sure equipment like ladders and step-stools are safe and in good condition. Employees should also be trained in ladder safety. In addition, customers should never be allowed to use any ladder. Some of the costliest injuries in the floral industry are the result of falls from ladders.

Check your floors

Prevent slip and fall injuries at your business by managing the condition of walking and working surfaces and floors. You should have an evaluation done of the friction value—referred to as coefficient of friction (COF)—throughout your business. Maintaining a COF of .5 or greater through high-travel areas helps reduce the likelihood of a resulting slip and fall accident. If you find the COF in an area is under .5, apply a higher-friction surface coating, etcher, or new flooring surface. Non-slip waxes are also an option. You should retest the surface to make sure it’s effective.

Also, look for damaged carpeting, tile, concrete, or water accumulation at entrances that can present a danger. Include these areas and conditions during your monthly inspections and make sure they’re repaired.

Educate your employees

Working in a horticultural business often means lifting and moving heavy items. That’s why it’s important you have accurate descriptions outlining the physical demands of each job. Pre-employment medical checks help make sure a candidate is physically able to do the work. You also need to teach workers to:

  • Lift the right way: Train your workers to lift without twisting their back to avoid injuries like a herniated disc. Supervisors should also be on the lookout for improper lifting and give extra guidance when needed.
  • Know your limits: Set a maximum safe lifting limit for one person. Anything above that weight requires a team lift.
  • Get some help: Encourage the use of lifting devices like a dolly or pallet jack whenever possible. Require a cart if something needs to be taken from one end of the building to the other.

But remember, safety isn’t something you talk about once a year and then forget—it changes with the seasons. Hold regular training and create a safety team to identify any new issues. It can help you avoid costly workers’ compensation claims.

If you have questions on doing safety inspections or how to start a safety program at your workplace, Hortica is here to help—just contact us.

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For more information on protecting your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.

Looking for some helpful hints to manage the busy spring floral season? We offer a little advice.