January 16, 2020

NIOSH Launches Study of Hazards to Grounds Management Workers

NIOSH seeks firms in the landscaping and grounds management fields to participate in a research project to evaluate and control hazards to landscapers, groundskeepers, hardscapers, and arborists. According to NIOSH, the landscaping industry is one of the most hazardous industries in the services sector. In 2017, landscaping had a fatality rate of 16.9 per 100,000 workers, compared to 3.5 per 100,000 workers for all industries. Previous NIOSH research shows that workers who complete tasks like those performed by landscaping and grounds management workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise, carbon monoxide, dust, and silica.

The agency’s pilot study will examine how outdoor power tools can create hazards that may affect landscaping and grounds management workers’ occupational health. NIOSH intends to conduct the study in two parts. First, agency investigators will conduct site visits at work locations to collect data and establish a baseline for exposure to potential hazards from the use of outdoor power equipment. During the second part of the study, NIOSH will test workers’ exposures during the use of tools that are designed to reduce exposures to noise, CO, dust, and silica. The agency touts the study as “a unique opportunity [for companies] to try new equipment on the market with low-emission and low-noise properties.”

NIOSH intends to use the information gathered to develop appropriate solutions, such as engineering controls for power tools, to minimize or eliminate hazards in the industry. The agency will share its findings with workers and companies that participate in the study. Company and participant names will not be included in NIOSH’s report.

Letters of interest to participate in this research program must be submitted to NIOSH before Oct. 16, 2020. More information is available in the Federal Register.