NIOSH Launches Study of Hazards to Grounds Management Workers
NIOSH seeks firms in the landscaping and grounds management fields to participate in research to evaluate hazards to landscapers, groundskeepers, hardscapers, and arborists. According to the agency, the landscaping industry is one of the most hazardous 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 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 create hazards that affect landscaping workers’ occupational health. The study will be conducted 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 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.  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.