Landscaping is a growing field, and that’s not just a grass pun. In 2016, the IBIS World Market Report listed an annual growth of 3.9 percent for the landscape services industry. Landscaping already employed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. that year; it wouldn’t be surprising if we surpassed the 1 million mark in 2017.
That’s a lot of people to teach about proper material handling techniques. You can’t automate the building of a retaining wall, so manual material handling is just part of the landscaping job for the foreseeable future. If we’re not careful about education, a lot of people may end up with strains, sprains, and bad backs this summer.
It may seem strange, but one of the most valuable pieces of ergonomic equipment that landscapers can invest in is a set of material racks. There are plenty of ergonomic tips that landscapers should follow, and maybe we’ll get to those in future blog posts, but for now, here’s how specialized industrial racks can help landscaping staff stay healthy throughout the busy season:
Racks elevate awkward materials, preventing hazardous movements common to the field.
Back injuries come from improper lifting techniques. When heavy items are staged at waist-level, there’s no reason to bend the back, so back pain is less likely to develop.
Materials don’t get much more awkward than slabs of stone. Store pavers on dedicated racking systems such as a Sheet Material Rack. With an elevated surface and the two-person-lift technique, you can take the pain out of handling large, heavy pavers.
Fork pockets on industrial racks allow for virtually risk-free transportation via forklift.
The best industrial racks feature fork pockets for lift-truck transportation. Think of the ergonomic benefits you can gain from lifting an entire rack full of soil and fertilizer, driving it to its destination, and allowing staff to empty the bags one at a time.
Industrial racks configured for awkward landscaping materials prevent collapse.
Improper lifting techniques aren’t the only hazard at a landscaping work site. There’s also the chance that stacked materials will collapse. When that happens, you don’t want to be anywhere near the falling stones or heavy sacks.
Choose a Ground Rack with removable steel restraints at either end. That way you can keep materials secure without limiting 360-degree access.
Removable restraints simplify two-person lifts.
Speaking of restraints, two-person lifts are the next best thing to dedicated material handling equipment. When a Ground Rack includes removable restraints, it gives staff access to both sides of the materials. This enables employees to work together to lift heavy bags without risking their health.
Landscaping materials come in every possible configuration: Heavy bags, light bags, huge bags, sheets, blocks, panels, cylinders, you name it. There’s no single solution that can simplify the manual handling of so many different shapes and weights.
Custom steel racking can support any of these common landscaping materials, though. That, in turn, supports the staff tasked with lifting and transporting these items across a work site. Simplify every landscaping job with good ergonomic practices and a few customized industrial racks for your materials.
“Landscape Industry Statistics.” LandscapeProfessionals. National Association of Landscape Professionals, n.d. Web. 4 May 2017.
“Landscaping: Materials Handling.” OSHA. West Virginia University Research Corporation, 2011. PPT. 4 May 2017.