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  • Writer's pictureEric McQuiston, PLA

Residential Landscape Construction: Site Management & Safety

Updated: May 9, 2023



As a contractor performing work for your client, protecting your employee's and the client's health, safety and welfare as well as that of the neighbors and community should be a paramount concern. It is inevitable that many disruptions and inconveniences may occur for all parties involved as you perform your work. Mitigating those disruptions and creating a safe, organized, and efficient work space will make your work easier, more efficient, and demonstrate your professional concern for the client and the neighbors.


I consider this as Site Management. While your proposal/contract may (and should) detail what you will for the client and how you will be compensated, A Site Management Plan is an internal document that defines the logistics of HOW that project will be accomplished. In most cases this should be developed along with the proposal as that is the the time that many considerations such as site access, material & equipment storage, as well as safety concerns are being addressed.


Client communication avoids many misunderstandings

It is not a bad idea to share this plan with your customer and ask for their feedback and input. It shows your professionalism, thoroughness and concern.


Not every project would demand a plan of this nature. But, larger projects should at least consider some of the points that I will touch on below.


SITE ACCESS


Consideration of the accessibility of the work area is very important to a successful outcome. Some of these considerations might be: Is the work area located in the front or back of the property? How close is the work area to company work and delivery vehicles? Is there a significant slope or grade that must be navigated and how will this be accomplished; by hand or machine? Will a fence or other obstruction need to be temporarily removed to allow access and will a temporary gate be installed? What efforts and materials will be utilized to protect the existing surfaces (lawn, landscape or pavement) as materials and equipment are moved back and forth?

Site access is important.

MATERIAL STOCKPILING


Thought should be given to where and how materials that are delivered to the job site are stored and organized. This may include many pallets of hardscape materials like stone, pavers or wall block. It may also include plant materials, soils or aggregates or lumber. An appropriately sized area should be identified BEFORE the start of work for this stockpile. It should be located conveniently but out of the way of the clients daily business, recreation or access to their home.


Safety and security measures should be examined for this material stockpile area. Is any of this material subject to theft? Is any material potentially hazardous? Should the stockpile be secured with temporary fencing and/or security cameras?


An important part of your Site Management Plan should include health, safety, and security interests.


SAFETY PLAN


In addition to your company's general Health & Safety Policy, a Project Safety Plan should be provided to the crew in the field. This document should be a part of the Job Plan and be easily accessible to all. This Job Safety Plan could and should include at a minimum: identifying potential hazards and offering solutions or mitigating strategies, identifying and making clear the nearest injury or trauma treatment facilities, and assigning at least one employee as a Health & Safety Observer (HSO) to asses and employ company risk management strategies, identify possible dangerous situations and empowering them to make decisions.


No one wants to see this!

The crew in the field, and specifically The Health & Safety Observer (HSO) should have quick access to gas, electric and water utility emergency contact numbers in the event of damage to those utilities. They should also be empowered to make quick decisions for the safety and well being of employees, and all persons.


CUSTOMER RESPONSIBILITIES


The customer has an important role to play in the successful completion of their project. They should be required to provide unimpeded access to the work area at all times. They should be encouraged to observe the work being done but not create any distractions or otherwise impede the accomplishment of the contracted work. They should be required, for their own safety, to stay away from any work area at all times, both when work is actually being done or after hours, until the work is completed.


A professional company will employ most of these strategies, if not more, as a part of their business model and project plans. These procedures are not easy to implement, nor are they without cost. But any professional company will provide you with a written Site Management Plan that will also include a health and safety plan.


CONCLUSION


If you are a contractor who wants to distinguish yourself from every jack-wagon, chuck-in-a-truck, operator out there; you should probably provide your customer with a Site Management Plan on any sizable job. As a homeowner, you should feel comfortable asking how the job will be managed and what safety and security protocols will be implemented.


I hope this will provide both homeowners and contractors a little food for thought.


Eric

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