Now that we're officially more than halfway through winter, many site managers are considering the grounds of their facilities during the warmer months ahead. Spring is a fabulous time of the year, with a new season bringing the long sought for promise of warmer weather, birds nesting and the arrival of daffodils and snowdrops. It also means that the new season of outdoor work for our grounds maintenance teams begins in earnest, and it's worth a healthy reminder of why outsourcing your grounds work to a professional Grounds Maintenance team such as GRITIT's makes for sensible, risk-free grounds maintenance.
During early Spring, there is a lot of catch-up outdoor maintenance work, such as cutting back dead foliage and growth, clearing grounds in preparation for new plants, thinking about cleaning up after the storms and the winter weather and even preparing for the first lawn cuts of the season. These categories of outdoor activity do all carry risks which are worth examining hiring a cheap and cheerful local contractor.
That first mow has hidden dangers!
Once the warmer weather arrives, the grass on winter-neglected lawns will start to grow. However, the critical first cut of your grounds carries surprising risks which are worth considering. According to data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), over a 10 year period thirty deaths have been associated with mowing, and they rate the job as akin to farming in terms of hazard level. They note that most mowing-related incidents also go unreported, which may indicate that the job is riskier than assumed.
There are some key steps that we take for you with the first mow of the year. In particular, the length of grass may very well conceal hidden objects, and from a sensible health and safety perspective we believe it is important to properly assess the environment before considering the first cut. Lawnmowers can propel debris at a rate of 100mph, and skipping a risk assessment maybe a costly mistake.
Employ trained staff
To help with these principles, operators should be appropriately trained, as are all our Grounds Maintenance crews. A useful training backup is to also supply operators with an instruction manual, so that operators can understand precisely how a mower works and see the safety advice. Manuals also usually include details of how to remove any blockages that stop a mower's efficient use.
In terms of PPE, it is important to use operatives who have access to appropriate safety clothing. At the least, the recommendations include sturdy protective gloves, goggles, sturdy shoes and long trousers. If the equipment gets obstructed or debris lodges in and around the blades, always ensure that the mower is powered down with the safety function in place, and it goes without saying that you need to use an item such as a pole rather than your hands to remove obstructions. In addition, manufacturers make the following safety observation: if cutting grass on a slope, always mow across, not up and down. This lessens the risk of losing control of a lawn mower. Mowers can overturn on slopes, and can pin a worker in a fallen ride-on or tractor.
Pesticides & chemicals
There has been significant media interest recently around the use of chemical herbicide such as Glyphosate. The HSE has been moving towards more strict controls around the management of vegetation, investigating the potential health risks associated with widespread, long-term use of herbicides. To safeguard against potentially harmful substances, you should have a team with respiratory protection through an approved face mask, who use gloves when handling or applying herbicides, who wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers to avoid spills and splashes and who absolutely do not use any more than necessary. A team that dabs rather than sprays. Any Grounds Maintenance team involving chemicals must err on the side of caution, and adhere to recommendations rather than winging it when it comes to protecting against potential harm.
Noise & vibration
According to the HSE, cases of injury or ill-health due to noise pollution and vibration issuing from many Grounds Maintenance activity is on the rise. A number of routine tasks include the use of agricultural machinery to dig, saw and cut, all of which can carry a potential hazard in the form of damage to hearing. As a result, your grounds should be using operatives who wear appropriate ear protection to minimise the risk and stay safe, and consider the use of zero carbon electric machinery which lessens these factors considerably.
Any task which involves the use of saws and bladed obviously has risk associated with it, through accidental slips, trips or falls while holding sharp equipment, or hazards through deploying chainsaws for tree management. As one of the highest-risk elements of the Grounds Maintenance role, you must have staff who do this properly, and keep safe with a thorough environmental assessment prior to commencing work in this field. It is vital, and a legal requirement for which site managers are liable to ensure that equipment, PPE and Workwear are all compliant with legislation and fit for purpose before work starts
Always check that your contractors have safety in mind first for Grounds Maintenance for Spring, through effective training, PPE and sensible workwear. GRITIT uses quality hand, face and ear protection for all its operatives, and our machinery is all serviced during the Winter months to prepare for the season ahead. We check all our equipment carefully before we head out for the first Spring shifts outdoors, to ensure that nothing has degraded or its purpose compromised through damp storage or other issues which may affect its level of protection.
Grounds work is an essential part of your facility service requirement, but hiring the wrong contractor can expose you to risks. Talk to GRITIT about our grounds and facility maintenance services. Grounds, repairs to asphalt, site inspections, landscaping services, lawn maintenance, car park cleaning and winter services can all be a part of your all-in-one custom service package.