Landscaping and yard work is a frequent entry point into the job market for teenagers. However, the sharp implements and machinery used to do the work present dangers for teens. Often young workers are left unsupervised for long periods of time. The job also requires a great deal of time spent driving in vehicles which, as we have noted, is a dangerous work-related activity.
These incidents highlight the dangers of outside work:
• In April 2012, a six-year-old, Jeffrey Bourgeois, was helping is father with his landscaping business. As he placed a branch into a wood chipper, he was instantly pulled to his death.
• In Fairfax, Virginia, in August 2010, 17-year-old Gregory Malsam was helping a neighbor trim trees when he came in contact with a 19,000-volt power line. He suffered massive internal injuries and died instantly.
• In July 2010, 12-year-old Luke Hahn was performing landscaping work with his father at a Tree Farm in Bushkill Township, Pennsylvania when the boy backed a dumptruck into the valve of an underground propane tank, creating an explosion that killed him and critically injured his father.
• In September 2010 in Rosenberg, Texas, 19-year-old Walter Barcenas was mowing grass near some railroad tracks when he was struck and killed by a train.
• In November 2009 in Poquoson, Virginia, Frank Anthony Gornik, 14, died instantly as he used a shovel to push debris into a wood chipper and the machine grabbed his shovel, pulling him in before he could release his grip. Virginia law prohibits anyone under 18 from using a wood chipper.
Landscaping, groundskeeping, and lawn service workers use hand tools such as shovels, rakes, saws, hedge and brush trimmers, and axes, as well as power lawnmowers, chain saws, snow blowers, and power shears. Some use equipment such as tractors and twin-axle vehicles. These jobs often involve working with pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals. Rollovers from tractors, ATVs, and movers are a risk. Tree limb cutting and lifting and carrying inappropriately heavy loads are another potential danger; so is handling chemicals, pesticides, and fuel. Contact with underground or overhead electrical cables presents electrocution dangers.
Under federal laws, minors who are age 16 and older may be employed in landscaping and operate power mowers, chain saws, wood chippers, and trimmers. The operation of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or tractors for non-agricultural labor is only prohibited if the equipment is used for transporting passengers, an activity prohibited for minors under age 18.