Working with leaf blowers is just a part of a professional landscaper’s job description. However, using this type of machinery can lead to serious injuries when used incorrectly or if it is defective. Although leaf blowers are common household products, it is important to know the safety precautions one should take when purchasing and operating one for personal or professional use.
Common Injuries Attributed to Leaf Blowers
One of the most common long-term injuries attributed to leaf blower usage is noise-induced hearing loss. Landscapers who use leaf blowers have a higher risk of experiencing occupational hearing loss due to the product’s loud roar. This loud sound damages sensitive structures and kills sensory hairs in the ear.
Symptoms of noise-induced hearing loss include:
Having difficulty understanding people when they talk
Turning up the volume on TVs and other devices higher than usual
Feeling that sounds are distorted
Needing a hearing aid
Persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Landscapers can experience other injuries as well, including electrical injuries, eye injuries, and common injuries such as bruises. There is also a possibility of experiencing breathing problems from excess leaf blower usage due to the air pollutants.
Safety Tips for Leaf Blower Users
Understanding the proper way to use leaf blowers is important to user safety. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were nearly 4000 reported cases of injury attributed to leaf blowers, mulchers, and grinders in 2013. The actual number of leaf blower injuries are most likely higher than stated, since minor injuries and aid through other health clinics may not be reported.
There are several things to consider when purchasing and operating a leaf blower. Although it may seem like all leaf blowers are the same, several features allow for added safety. When purchasing a leaf blower, there should be a sticker that indicates it passes safety group guidelines. These groups perform various testing on leaf blowers in order to ensure that the product meets safety standards. Therefore, it is in the consumers’ best interest to find leaf blowers with these stickers.
In order to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, it is important for leaf blower users to wear earplugs. Wearing earplugs prevents the ear’s sensory hair cells from dying, ultimately protecting one’s hearing. Taking frequent breaks is also important because it allows these hair cells to recover from potential damage.
For safety purposes, it is important to wear appropriate clothing when using a leaf blower. Generally, it is in one’s best interest to remove jewelry, put long hair up, and remove loose clothing. In order to prevent excess air pollutant inhalation, it is helpful to wear a dust mask.