Josh Wilder is the Operations Manager for Master Lawn, which is owned by Michael Hatcher & Associates, a premier commercial and residential landscaping company located in Olive Branch, MS.

“Just as gorgeous landscaping doesn’t happen on its own, nor does safety at work,” said Wilder, who has over 19 years of experience in landscaping and lawn care. “You have to make a conscious decision to make safety priority #1, especially when working with multiple people, which is often the case at large construction sites.”

Common landscaping risks and hazards

Wilder and his team engage in numerous tasks where risks and hazards abound, including running heavy lawn equipment like Bobcats, Bulldozers, and Backhoe Loaders. Then there are the sharp blades and handheld tools, many of which present cut hazards from using chainsaws, bush trimmers, and weed whackers. And let’s not forget exposure to chemicals.

“Lawn care chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can be safe when handled and applied correctly. However, unsafe exposures may lead to burn risks and create long-term illness over time,” said Wilder.

“I always encourage my team before handling any chemical to always read the label and the SDS. The label includes information about PPE, proper mixing, application instructions, and warnings. There’s a reason the manufacturer put a warning label on the product, and I want my team to take that label seriously.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that cause injuries

“And sometimes it’s just the simplest thing that can cause an injury,” said Wilder. “Not wearing your PPE because you think a task is simple is where many injuries occur. Even when you’re just walking the grounds, a tree limb or flying debris can poke you in the eye within a matter of seconds,” said Wilder. “I am telling you, flying debris that ends up in someone’s eye is one of landscaping’s biggest offenders. Because of this, I tell my team to wear their protective eyewear all the time.”

In addition to safety glasses, Wilder’s team wears hard hats, hi-vis apparel, hearing protection, hand protection, long khaki pants, and heavy-duty boots. “These are our go-to safety products that everyone must wear while on the job.

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Safety Tailgate Talks

“I am always talking to my team about safety,” said Wilder. “Wear your PPE so you can go home like you came to work is my steadfast message. You came to work with two eyes; go home with two eyes. You came to work with 10 fingers; go home with 10 fingers.

“Once an incident happens, you can’t take it back,” said Wilder. “Did the chainsaw take off your finger? Well, you can’t grow your finger back. Did the sharp shovel go through your tennis shoe and claim your toe? Well, you can’t grow your toe back.”

Another tip Wilder uses in his safety tailgate talks is to remind his workers that an injury doesn’t just affect them. “Injuries affect your family too, financially, mentally, and physically. You can shut the whole family down with a serious injury at work, so you can’t forget to put on the PPE,” said Wilder. “You wouldn’t forget to put your work pants on and that’s how it should be with PPE; you just put it on!”

Wilder is excited about Construction Safety Week. “Anytime we promote and prioritize safety, it reminds us how vital it is to our overall health and well-being. Safety Week helps us get the buy-in, and employees feel appreciated when you show them you care about their safety and the PPE they wear.”

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Josh Wilder

Operations Manager | Master Lawn | Michael Hatcher & Associates, Inc.



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