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Wear Personal Protective Equipment This Gardening Season

Professionals in the landscaping, lawn care and tree care industries are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for safety. While the government doesn’t have specific mandates for individuals, wearing PPE for the job you’re doing just makes good sense.

Some PPE should be worn for health reasons whenever you are working in the garden. Others should be worn for jobs that present safety risks. When pruning shrubs for example, safety glasses will protect your eyes from twigs that may fly toward you when you cut them. Gloves can protect your hands from scratches and cuts from rough wood. Ear protection is encouraged when using power equipment, even your lawnmower. Hearing loss is progressive and creeps up on you, so getting in the habit of wearing earmuffs or ear plugs should begin right away.

Arborists are required to wear helmets when there’s a risk of being struck from above or even from the side and steel toed boots to protect their feet. Arborists also must wear chaps or special pants with Kevlar panels in the front of the legs when cutting wood to reduce chainsaw cuts. Compared to gloves, eye and hearing protection, helmets, chaps or Kevlar pants may seem like a major investment. It is but it’s worth it. But I have a better idea: don’t do your own tree work or use a chainsaw. Leave specialized work like that to the professionals who already have the equipment, along with the training and experience to do the job quickly, safely and correctly.

Although we welcome the sun, it’s also important to take precautions to protect your exposed skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. The problems caused by the sun this summer may not manifest themselves until decades in the future. Sun burn is dangerous at any age and, decades later, can result in trips to the dermatologist twice a year or more, often for periodic spritzes of liquid nitrogen or even surgery to remove skin cancers.

The most important protection from the sun is to slather exposed skin with good sunscreen before you set foot outside and touch it up while working. Always wear a wide brimmed hat. Be sure it keeps the sun from your ears, face and the back of your neck. All these areas are very sensitive to the sun. That’s why a baseball cap doesn’t provide sufficient protection.

Be sure you wear a good pair of sunglasses. They’re more than cool. They may save your vision. The sun’s UV rays can exacerbate cataracts and macular degeneration. Both are very common conditions that appear as people age.

Avoid dehydration. Be sure you take frequent rest/hydration breaks from your yard work. Find, or make, a shady place where you can take frequent breaks. Stock it with a cooler of water and drink every time you rest. Balance problems and lightheadedness are common symptoms of dehydration, and the inability to keep your balance can lead to falls. Something you don’t want to happen when you’re outside alone. 

Whether you reluctantly do outside work or are an avid gardener, following these recommendations will help your experience be safe and healthy now and for decades to come. For us, it’s government regulations. For you, it’s just common sense.

One comment on “Wear Personal Protective Equipment This Gardening Season

  1. Arborists do not seem to conform to color coding like we did in the 1980s. Foreman used to prefer white or blue hard hats, while groundsmen wore orange or perhaps yellow hard hats. It was supposedly for visibility, although I do not know why orange would be any more visible than white from above. My foremen (more than one) preferred for me to wear a white hard hat.

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