Details Landscape Art is a Sonoma County landscape contractor. We consider employee safety a paramount concern, and, since we require our workers to do frequent lifting and rototilling, we offer suggestions for proper lifting and rototiller techniques.

Lower back injuries from failing to use proper lifting and rototiller techniques are the single most common and most serious injuries in landscape work.

Lifting injuries can be avoided by following these simple steps:

  • Examine the object to be lifted. If there is any doubt that it is too heavy or too bulky to lift by yourself, GET HELP!
  • Determine if the load can be divided into smaller units.
  • Stand close to the object with feet spread apart for good balance. Make sure footing is secure and stable.
  • Bend your knees and straddle the object.
  • Get a good grip on the object with your hands.
  • Make sure your back is straight and erect.
  • Lift the object straight up, using the large muscles of your legs, keeping the object close to your body.
  • Do not twist or turn with the object until it is lifted completely into carrying position.
  • Set the load down with the same technique used in lifting it up…use your legs!
  • Keep your back straight.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU LIFT. Back injuries prevent you from working – sometimes permanently.

We also frequently use rototillers to help break up and amend the native soil, and are concerned with using them safely.

Before using the tiller:

  • Read the owners manual completely. Learn the proper use of all levers and controls. Be sure you can stop the machine quickly.
  • If purchasing a new machine or renting, ask the salesperson to demonstrate safe operation of the machine.
  • Never allow anyone who is not physically or mentally mature or who has not been properly trained to operate the machine.
  • Always inspect the machine for loose, broken or damaged parts. Make needed repairs or replacements before using.
  • Be sure all shields or guards are in place.
  • Fuel the engine out of doors while stopped and cool. If refueling wait several minutes for engine to cool. Do not smoke while handling fuel. Wipe up or wash any spills.
  • If using an electric tiller that is not double insulated, you should plug into a 3-pronged socket, grounded outlet using a properly sized 3-wire extension cord. Using a ground fault interrupter circuit ensures maximum safety protection.
  • Dress properly for the job. Wear snug fitting clothing in good condition, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, safety shoes, and filter mask if conditions are dusty.
  • Clear the work area of potential safety hazards such as wire, stone, bottles, cans, sticks, etc.
  • Be sure there are no children, pets or bystanders in the working area.
  • Do not use the tiller near underground utilities, irrigation pipes, tree roots, etc.

Operating the tiller:

  • Never start the tiller in a closed building – deadly fumes can build up.
  • Keep hands and feet clear of moving parts.
  • Do not operate in wet or slippery conditions.
  • Be sure the depth regulator is engaged before starting the tiller. Failing to do so could cause the machine to lurch quickly away from you.
  • Disengage the tiller and stop the engine to inspect for damage if you hit an obstruction. Repair any damage before resuming.
  • Never leave the machine running and unattended.
  • Always disengage the tines when turning or transporting the tiller.
  • Never attempt to lift the tiller by yourself if transporting to a distant location. Drive the machine up secure ramps or ask for assistance if it must be lifted. Tie the machine securely to prevent rolling.

Using the above proper lifting and rototiller techniques will ensure a safe project.