A bad workman blames their tools. However, a good workman knows the value of their tools. With so many different tasks, duties and dangers when landscaping, quality tools can be the difference between a job well done, or a job that becomes dangerous and quality safety equipment can mean the difference between a simple job or a trip to A&E.
As with literally every job, sport and pastime – safety is not worth scrimping on. Here are the safety essentials that you should have on you at all times when landscaping.
Starting with the simple and the obvious, eye protection. You only get one set of eyes, so protection them should be a priority for you.
You might think that you don’t need eye protection. You might not work with many saws or machines that kick up particles, however, even simple garden tasks require eye protection. Nature is dangerous, it’s sharp, spiky, dirty, covered in chemicals and crawling with bug and microbes. It only takes one thing to be flicked into your eye, and you risk permanent damage to your vision.
Pick yourself up some quality eye protection. For simple landscaping tasks, some cheap eye protection will suffice, but a more expensive pair will offer protection from scratching the lens, misting up during heat and UV protection. Just make sure you’re getting a pair of glasses that sit snuggly around the face, you don’t want to leave any gaps for something to find its way in.
If you’re in a role that sees yourself using power tools and fairly often see particles flying, then a pair with a high level of impact protection should be worn. In addition to a full face shield.
Hearing protection is not like eye protection. Most people know that they should be wearing eye protection, but they simply don’t. However, with hearing protection, most people don’t simply realise that they should be. Prolonged exposure to just 85dB of sound has been proven to cause permanent hearing damage. Your average lawnmower scoots along at around 90-100dB.
Hearing damage (from volume) doesn’t show its effects suddenly, it takes time and over the years you’ll eventually notice that you can’t hear things quite as well as you once did. Hearing protection is an important part of a landscaper’s gear.
You can wear either ear muffs or ear plugs for protection (or both), both kinds come with pros and cons. Ear Muffs are easier to fit and remove than plugs, but offer less protection than plugs can. Plugs are versatile, and won’t get in the way of glasses, helmets or masks, but are difficult to remove should you need to speak to someone.
Another essential part of your body to protect is your hands. You use them every day, you would be crazy not to give them at least a little protection. When it comes to gloves, spending a little bit of extra money to buy quality can literally be the difference between comfort and pain.
Look for a pair of gloves that will offer good padding to reduce the chances of blisters; a pair with strong puncture resistance to protect against thorns or other spiky bits; and finally ensure that you get a pair in the correct size as too small or too large will be uncomfortable and cause pain.
Again, if you’re handling chainsaws or other sharp tools, ensure that you purchase gloves with the correct protection rating (EN338 and EN381-7) to a level that you feel safe with.
You’re on your feet all day as a landscaper – on soft ground, on hard ground, on uneven ground, carrying heavy objects, pushing or pulling equipment. If you’re not kind to your feet, they won’t be kind to you.
There are two aspects to protecting your feet: protecting them from danger, and protecting them from wear. A good quality, well researched pair of boots should protect you from both the everyday pains (blisters, soreness, etc) and should also protect you from dangers such as sharp tools and heavy items.
Depending on the kind of work you expect to be doing, get the correct protection. If you’re often lifting heavy objects or striking towards the ground (spades, forks and axes), then a steel capped boot would be beneficial. However, if you’re not expecting these kinds of dangers, then less protection could offer a greater level of comfort during a long work day.
Depending on the kind of work that you intend to be doing, the protection that you need from your outdoor trousers will vary. Most landscapers will require a level of protection at the knees and seat – the areas of most wear and tear – however, if you’re often on your knees, you may wish to get a pair of protective trousers with integrated kneed pads.
Alternatively, if you’re often around power tools and sharp objects, you may wish to get a pair of trousers with chainsaw rated protection. They will protect your appendages (similar protection available in jackets, gloves and boots) from a slip with a sharp tool or a chainsaw.
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