Safety When Working Near Golfers

Given that a golf course is a sporting venue as well as a place of work, it’s important to prioritize safety for both golfers and staff. Golf may seem like a safe sport but flying golf balls can cause serious injuries.

There are a few things that employers can do, and measures that workers can take to ensure the golf course is a safe and enjoyable workplace

Recommendations for Employers

  • Organize maintenance tasks to reduce the time that both golfers and workers are on the turf together
  • Start the day early to complete tasks before golfers arrive, I know, you already do but we had to say it.
  • Identify dangerous areas such as blind tee shots or blind approach shots
  • Identify safe routes for workers
  • Inspect golf course often to identify potentially hazardous conditions
  • If possible, set rules for golfers that protect maintenance employees (for example, golfers need to understand that they are responsible to make sure staff member see them before they hit a ball.)
  • Train employees on safety hazards and best practices while working near golfers
  • Provide workers with hardhats and high-visibility uniforms
  • Roofs and cages should be considered for larger equipment

If your course is open from dawn until dusk, it may be difficult to plan maintenance tasks for times when golfers are not present, as it is dangerous for workers to work in conditions lacking good lighting. Consider planning tasks in an order that allows employees to be ahead of golfers. 

The risk may also be reduced by wearing PPE and bright clothing/accessories. The PPE will reduce the worker’s risk of injury, and high-visibility uniforms will make workers more visible to golfers.

Recommendations for Maintenance Employees

Keep golfers in sight and consider that the average carry of a golf ball for a male golfer is 275 yards and 218 yards for a female golfer. The time that the golf ball spends in the air is the most dangerous for golf maintenance employees because once it bounces, the ball’s ability to hurt you if it hits you is reduced. 

There are a few things that employers can do, and measures that workers can take to ensure the golf course is a safe and enjoyable workplace.

Protecting Yourself

Move behind trees or hills or anything that will block the ball from hitting you. Another option is to move to an area away from the landing zone.

You can also put up a ball barrier: two posts with netting strung tight between them. Personal protective equipment, such as a hard hat, will reduce the risk, but not enough for you to be safe while working in areas of flying golf balls.

When performing mobile work, like mowing, avoid working in the dangerous carry zone. Whenever golfers approach, move beyond the carry zone or go to another hole to work. Position yourself behind hills and trees that will block flying golf balls. You can also ask the golfers to “wait a minute” with hand signals.

Stationary Work: If you’re doing work in one place, like in an irrigation hole, leave as golfers approach the area.

Protecting Golfers: Certain maintenance work like the use of mowers.

Communicating with Golfers

The best way for employees to communicate with golfers at a distance is using hand signals. Index finger up: this universally recognized hand signals means “one minute”. Workers should use this hand signal to communicate that they need a moment to clear the area. Most golfers will wait for workers to finish.

Guidelines workers should follow when working near golfers:

  • Stay alert and aware of surroundings
  • Follow all safety rules and procedures
  • Wear PPE
  • Keep people, animals or property at least 45 feet away when using equipment
  • Keep golfers in sight when working near them
  • Try to stay out of the carry zone

Identifying hazards, devising safety plans and implementing safety rules and procedures is necessary to ensure golfer and worker safety when workers are near golfers. If all parties follow safety rules and procedures, the golf course can be a safe and enjoyable place for everyone. 

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