Teens throughout Philadelphia may look for jobs in landscaping over the summer. Landscaping work is common part-time work or temporary work for teens off from school for the summer but it can also present significant risks to young people. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared a comprehensive guide for teenagers who will be spending their summer outdoors working in the landscaping industry.
While young people should know the basic steps to keep themselves safe, it is ultimately the responsibility of employers to prevent dangerous conditions and reduce risk of injuries. When a teenager gets hurt at work, he is likely entitled to the same workers' compensation benefits as adults who get injured on-the-job.
Preventing Landscaping Injuries for Teen Workers
To work within the landscaping industry, teens generally must be at least 16-years old. However, if you will be driving a motor vehicle on a public road or highway as part of the job, you have to be 17. If you will be working as an outside helper on a motor vehicle outside the cab, you need to be at least 18.
When a teen has a job in landscaping, some of the biggest risks to safety include heat stress; pesticide use; the use of equipment like mowers; and the risks of lifting heavy objects. The EPA recommends teens drink at least one cup of water every 15 minutes while working outdoors. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided and regular breaks should be taken in a shady area.
To stay safe when using pesticides, it is important for teens to remember that they should not handle pesticides in any way (including mixing, loading, or applying pesticides) unless their employer has provided adequate safety training and all of the necessary protective gear that the pesticide label recommends. In the event that pesticides come into contact with the skin, the skin should be washed immediately with soap and water. Long sleeves, long pants, and sturdy shoes should be worn when working with pesticides and all clothing worn when working with pesticides should be washed separately from other laundry items.
When using a mower, teens should wear safety goggles, long pants, long sleeves, and ear plugs. Teens should also make sure that the area to be mowed is free of rocks and other objects before getting started. Hitting these objects with the mower can cause them to fly in the air where they turn into dangerous projectiles.
Finally, when lifting, be sure to ask for help if the load is awkward and to use hand trucks and dollies whenever possible to move heavy items. When lifting a heavy load, keep it close to the body and directly in front of you. Try to avoid lifting from the ground, instead making sure heavy items are stored at waist level whenever possible.
By following these tips, hopefully young workers in the landscaping industry can stay safer over the summer months.