Tailgate Topics > Plant Nursery Worker Safety - English


The Humboldt Builders’ Exchange Safety and Insurance Committee provide the following safety topic as a service to its members. These instructions do not supersede local, state or federal regulations

Plant Nursery Worker Safety

Reprinted with permission from State Compensation Insurance Fund

Nursery workers plant, cultivate, and harvest trees, shrubs, or plants at garden centers, greenhouses, and agricultural fields. The proper tools, work behaviors, and training for nursery workers can keep you safe.

Planting, weeding, and watering can be physically demanding. Get ergonomics training to learn safe work postures and techniques. When you plant, thin, or weed, bring the plants to waist height by using nursery tables or carts. To tend plants at ground level, use long-handled tools. If you kneel on the ground, use kneepads or garden pads.

Choose planting and cultivating tools with handles that fit the task, your height, and your hand. Tools need comfortable, soft grips that won’t slip out of your hand or press into your flesh. Use the correct size cutting tool and blade to trim or prune. Keep cutting tools sharp. Know where your hands are before you make a cut.

Hauling heavy potted plants can put a strain on your back. If you must lift a pot or plant manually, lift with your legs while keeping your back straight. Use lifting handles or a thick plastic edge around the pot to give you a good grip instead of trying to “pinch” a thin plastic edge with your thumb and forefinger.

Use mechanical lifting devices such as wheelbarrows, dollies, and carts to move pots and materials (topsoil, mulch, fertilizers, etc.) around. Wheels should be large enough to roll over the uneven terrain in a garden center or field.

You may operate all-terrain vehicles, tractors, and forklifts to move supplies and plants. Get training in the equipment you operate. Inspect and maintain the equipment. Know the equipment rated capacity so you don’t overload it. Don’t hitch a ride or allow riders unless there is a seat and seatbelt available.

Know the properties and hazards of the chemicals you use by getting training and consulting the material safety data sheets (MSDS). Insecticides, fungicides, pesticides, and fertilizers can be harmful if you don’t wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Consult the product label and/or MSDS to choose appropriate gloves, coveralls, safety glasses, and respirator, if needed.

Working outdoors or year-round tending plants exposes you to the weather. Get training in heat and cold illness prevention. Wear layers of clothing appropriate to the season. Practice sun safety with long sleeves, a hat, and sunscreen. Use insect repellent and keep a first aid kit handy to treat bites and stings.


The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards 
©State Compensation Insurance Fund.


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