Grounds / Maintenance


Grounds Maintenance personnel have various distinct ergonomic exposures. These include extensive outdoor work under weather conditions and locations and the use of various powered and non-powered hand tools and equipment. Much of the work requires standing and walking for long periods of time, Work also involves the loading and unloading of heavy materials and equipment. This section provides the Grounds Maintenance staff with information about how to work safely and to reduce the risk of injury.


Temperature Extremes:

Both extreme cold and heat can be dangerous to your health - and increase our chances of physical accidents and ergonomically related injuries, Keep loads light and close to your body to avoid exertion.

    For extreme cold conditions:

    • Dress in layers, preferable fabrics made of wool, cold weather synthetics or blends, and avoiding cotton which does not wick perspiration readily,
    • Stay dry - water and wetness decrease thermal retention of most fabrics,
    • Keep extremities covered, especially your head, since we lose most of our heat from our heads,
    • Avoid caffeine and tobacco products - they are well-recognized as vasoconstrictors,
    • Take periodic breaks in warm, dray areas to warm up,
    • Beware of ice, snow, and other hazards to walking and maneuvering.

    For extreme heat conditions:

    • Wear Loose, comfortable clothing, preferably of natural fabrics,
    • Beware of the progressive signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke,
    • Take periodic breaks and drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeinated beverages,
    • If you are working outdoors, also pay attention to sun exposure by wearing a wide brim hat and using high SPF rated sunscreen,
    • Be aware that perspiration can make your grip slippery.

Loading and unloading equipment:

  • Extreme care should be exercised when manually loading or unloading equipment,
  • Before handling motorized equipment, be sure that it can not be started and that fuel has been drained or sufficiently contained,
  • Only move equipment that is of a weight that you can handle safely,
  • Tie off or remove any loose parts or components or parts or components that may become loose,
  • Large equipment should be rolled off using ramps or trailer gates,
  • If driven, be sure of visibility and test brakes,
  • If lowered by hand, be sure you can handle the load and stay clear of the load at all times,
  • Small equipment should be moved in crates, boxes, or strong (canvas, etc) type bags,
  • Be careful of sharp or rough “working parts” of all equipment,
  • When possible, lift and place equipment off of platforms or trucks above knee height and below chest height.

Materials handling: [click here for image]

  • Minimize repetitive actions by rotating tasks as much as possible,
  • Whenever possible, reduce the size and weight of the load to make handling easier,
  • Be mindful and protect against sharp edges, Use gloves, coveralls, and safety shoes,
  • Lighting, temperature, and humidity can all contribute to the likelihood of an accident occurring, Evaluate the environmental conditions and postpone the work until conditions improve, slow down, take more frequent breaks, or ask for help.

Vehicles: [click here for image]

  • Prior to use, inspect the vehicle from the exterior for any obvious defects or dangerous conditions,
  • Position seat, mirrors, radio, working papers, etc, at the start of shift to your size and configuration,
  • Avoid keeping bulky or sharp objects in pants pockets or utility belts when seated for long perioss of time,
  • Take periodic breaks while driving for a long time,
  • Minimize twisting while using in-vehicle communications or other tools,
  • Assess weight and position of heavy or awkward objects prior to moving them from trunk, vehicle cargo area or bed, Beware of any load-shifting and respect the force of gravity on tilting objects or stacked materials,
  • Pay particular attention to road and walk surfaces,
  • Maintain high visibility of and for other motorists, and use caution when stopping for loading or unloading.

Lifting: [click here for image]

  • Identify and assess the weight of the load
  • Be sure load is “free” to move,
  • Be sure path and planned location is free of obstacles and debris,
  • Prepare by warming up your muscles with exercises,
  • Stand close to the load and face the way you intend to move,
  • Use a wide stance to gain balance,
  • Keep your arms straight,
  • Lift the load as close to your body as possible,
  • Lift smoothly without jerking,
  • Avoid twisting and side bending while lifting.

Handling bagged material:

  • When lifting, remember to:
    • Straddle the end of the bag,
    • Bend the hips and knees and keep the back straight,
    • Grasp the bag with both hands under the closer end,
    • Hold the bag against your body and stand up trusting off with the bag leg,
    • Thrust the bag up with your knee while straightening your body,
    • Put the bag on your shoulder.
  • When lowering, remember to:
    • Avoid unloading a bag from your shoulder directly to floor level, Use and intermediate platform,
    • Stand close to the platform,
    • Bend hips and knees and keep back straight,
    • Ease the bag off of your shoulder and place on the platform.

Handling drums and barrels:

  • Use mechanical aids whenever possible and never attempt to raise a full drum alone,
  • When moving, remember to:
    • Make sure the drum is empty,
    • Stand at the end of the drum,
    • Place one foot forward of the drum
    • Bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight,
    • Stand up by trusting off with the back leg and continuing in and upward and forward motion,
    • Set the drum on its base by moving the back leg forward, using your body to counter the weight of the load.

Moving drums and barrels:

  • When moving a drum alone, remember to:
    • Stand close to the drum with feet apart, One foot at the front and the other behind,
    • Keep knees slightly flexed,
    • Put your hands firmly against the upper rim of the drum,
    • Keep your arms straight with elbows “locked”,
    • Rock the drum gently to get the feel of the contents before you move it,
    • Push the top of the drum away by extending the back leg and shifting your body weight onto your front leg,
    • Stop tilting the drum at the balance point, Use your back leg as a counter balance.

Handling bulky sacks:

  • Bulky sacks are easier to carry on your back, Lift onto your back from a platform as described below:
    • Move the sack to the edge of the platform,
    • Put your back against the sack,
    • Grasp with both hands on the upper corners,
    • Ease the sack onto your back, bending hips and knees before taking the weight,
    • Keep your back straight,
    • Stand up and straighten your hips and knees.

Powered equipment: [click here for image]

  • Proper maintenance and adjustments are important to working with powered equipment safely and reducing the strain and load on the body, Before starting equipment, verify that all wheels, levels, and controls move freely and solidly, Adjust handles, seats, and controls for your comfort,
  • Whole-Body Vibration: Typically results when machinery vibration passes through the buttocks of the seated individual or the feet of a standing individual, The most widely reported injury is back pain, Good preventive strategies include:
    • Proper seat adjustment,
    • Proper speed of operation,
    • Avoid irregular ground as much as possible,
    • Have equipment properly and regularly maintained,
    • Participate in job rotation.
  • Hand-Arm Vibration: Typically result form using powered tools such as:
    • Chain saws,
    • Trimmers,
    • Brush cutters,
    • Mowers,
    • Drills and grinders.

Chainsaw work:

  • The weight of the chainsaw places a strain on your back, Aim to get the work at a weight where you can more easily support the saw on the tree without stooping,
  • When making the felling cut on a tree, support the weight of the saw by bracing your forearms on your thighs or knees,
  • Rest the saw on your thigh when you are cross-cutting or disbranching to take the weight off of your lower back,
  • Keep close to the saw to reduce strain and avoid kick-back.