Down-to-earth safety

Gardening is more popular than ever during the pandemic, but it’s important to be aware of potential hazards.

garden safety tips

If you decided to take up gardening during the pandemic, you're not alone.

Since people began staying at home more last year because of COVID-19, many have discovered the benefits of making their yard attractive and productive.

Gardening can provide exercise, healthy food, and the chance to appreciate the natural world's beauty. Being in nature can boost your emotional health and help you destress.

But potential hazards can lurk in your garden - and not just poison oak. Sharp tools, heavy objects, and an outdoor workplace can result in various injuries.

"Gardening and yard work are wonderful outdoor activities, especially as the weather improves. But most of us have experienced the unintended consequences of yard adventures, such as strains, sprains, cuts, scratches, soreness, stings, and sunburns," says SAIF's Judi Croft, safety services manager. "Being safely prepared is the first step."

If you've got the gardening bug, use these tips to give your green thumb the green light.

Stay sharp

Make sure that hand tools and power tools have sharp blades, so they don't slip and cut you. Also check that hand grips are in good condition, and you can safely handle the weight of the tool. Many companies now make pruners, trowels, and other tools ergonomically designed to be easier to use.

Keep your cool

When the weather gets warm, and you work outside, wear a hat, sun-protective clothing, and sunscreen. It's also crucial to stay hydrated, as heat illness is very real, comes on quickly, and can be deadly

Take a load off

Heavy pots, overloaded wheelbarrows, and large bags of compost and mulch can put a strain on your back. Never lift, push, or pull more than you can safely handle. Check out these tips for how to lift safely

Protect yourself

Wear personal protective equipment - safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, and gloves - when using powered yard and garden equipment such as mowers, blowers, hedgers, and trimmers. Make sure anyone using a chainsaw or other power tools is familiar with the operation and safety features. Find out how to stay safe if you use a ladder. 

Be careful with chemicals

Whenever you apply fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals in the garden, read the instructions about use, safety precautions, storage, and disposal. Even products labeled natural and organic should be used appropriately and with care.

"The EPA has to approve the labels on these types of products," says Debra Corbin, SAIF industrial hygienist. "It's critical to read the labels, as they tell you everything you need to know about what the product can be used for and how to use it safely and legally."

Further resources