Occupational Safety and Health Training for Landscape and Horticultural Services

David Minner, Faculty, Horticulture Department


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified landscape and horticultural services as an industry with an unusually high rate of injuries. Furthermore, this industry is comprised mainly of small businesses, a population that OSHA has identified as hard-to-reach employers.


The goal of the project was to reduce occupational injuries and illnesses among landscape and horticultural services workers. The effectiveness of training was evaluated by (1) participant evaluations of training, (2) employer evaluations of training, and (3) employer-reported changes in engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls to reduce injuries.


The project delivered occupational safety and health training to landscape and horticultural services employers in Kansas and Iowa as part of the OSHA funded grant 46G6-HT22.  Training was coordinated through a network of state, area, and county Extension offices and also through our partnering trade organizations in both states. At no charge to the participants a total of 978 individuals were trained; Iowa State University trained 304 Iowans.  Active training methods were designed to engage adult learners. These methods included group discussion, problem-solving, hands-on exercises, performance evaluations, demonstrations, and other concrete learning activities that have been validated in studies of adult learners. Furthermore, each training topic focused on illustrative case reports of actual accidents, a method that has been shown to increase learning and retention of training information.  A unique aspect of this project was to involve both English-and Spanish-speaking workers and employers.  Sixty nine Hispanic workers from Kansas and 51 from Iowa received landscape safety training presented in Spanish.  Training courses addressed the following issues: motor vehicle and roadside work activities; mowing and trimming safety; back-injury prevention; safety program management; tree-trimming safety; and additional topics related to safe machinery operation. Training content was designed to help workers and employers avoid the most common sources of injuries and deaths in this industry.


In Iowa safety glasses were awarded to 50 participants based on a question and answers session and all participants received a personal pair of foam ear plugs.  The following survey results indicate the wide acceptance and appreciation of this type of training for both employers and employees in the landscape industry.       

        94% of participants said the training was easy to understand
        93% said they learned something important: 63% said they learned A LOT of
                important new information; 30% said they learned SOME important new things
        89% said they will definitely use the information they learned to work more safely
                in the future
        90% said the training was definitely worth their time
        93% said they would definitely recommend the training to others

130  Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer

Page last updated: January 10, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu