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Synonyms: Garden caretaker; greenskeeper; groundskeeper; horticulturist; landscape specialist; park worker

Job profile

Definition and/or description


Makes, or works in, a garden. Maintains grounds of public, private, industrial or commercial property, performing any combination of the following tasks: conditions soil by digging, turning, ploughing, fertilizing, etc; plants grass, flowers, shrubs and trees; waters lawn, flowers and shrubs; cuts lawns; trims and edges around walks, flower beds and walls; prunes shrubs and trees; sprays lawn, shrubs and trees with insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers; cleans and disinfects or sterilizes gardening tools and equipment; formulates and prepares pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, soil additive or other solutions or mixtures; removes damaged leaves, branches or twigs; rakes and bags leaves; cleans grounds and removes litter; carts away or burns litter, leaves, paper, etc; shovels snow from walks and driveways; may sharpen gardening tools; may make minor repairs of equipment; may repair and/or paint fences, walls, gates and walks; may clean drainage ditches and culverts; may measure moisture level in soil.



Bagging (leaves); bailing; budding; burning; carting; cleaning; clipping; conditioning (soil); cropping; culling; cutting; detasselling; digging; disinfecting; draining; drying; dusting; edging; fertilizing; formulating; fumigating; gathering; grading (terrain); grafting; harrowing; harvesting; hoeing; husking; irrigating; maintaining; making; measuring (moisture, etc.); mending; mowing; mulching; painting; performing (tasks); picking; planting; plowing; potting; preparing (mixtures, etc.); propagating; pruning; raking; reaping; repairing; removing; sawing; sharpening; shearing; shelling; shovelling; sorting; sowing; spading; spiking; spraying; spreading; sterilizing; stringing; thinning; threshing; tilling; transplanting; trimming; turning (soil); watering; weeding; winnowing.

Primary equipment used


Lawn mower (manual or power-operated); clippers; weed cutters; edging tools; shears; ploughs; pruners; saws; spades; sprayers; sprinklers; spreaders; rakes; brooms; spiked sticks; shovels; trowels; knives; cultivators; hoses and watering cans; forks and aerator forks; thatchers; carts; tractors with various appendages; water sensor gauges.


Accident hazards


– Falls from heights (e.g., ladders, platforms or roofs), slips and falls on level ground (on mud or on wet soil or grass) or trips and falls on uneven soils or over various gardening implements, causing bruises, concussion, cuts or bone breakage;

– Overturning with, or falls from, tractors and other field vehicles or towed platforms;

– Clothing, hair or beard entanglement between moving parts of electrical or engine-driven machinery;

– Accidents with gardening tools (cutters, clippers, shears, rakes, hoes, etc.) as a result of tool slippage, inattention, breakage, stepping or falling on tools, etc., causing stabs, scratches, pinches, contusions, wounds, amputation of fingers, etc.;

– Ejection of flying particles (sand, stones, wood pieces, rubber or nylon cord, etc.) during work with power-driven mowers, saws, etc., causing injury to the eyes, contusions, etc.;

– Stabs from thorny plants;

– Snake, scorpion, bee, wasp, rodent, insect and dog bites or stings, causing wounds, pain, swelling, local or general poisoning, etc.;

– Electrocution or electric shock from contact with exposed live wires (e.g., overhead power lines when transporting metal piping) or during work with faultily insulated electrical equipment;

– Spillage of acids (e.g., nitric acid used for disinfecting tools) or other corrosive chemicals on the skin or clothing, or into eyes, causing chemical burns, rashes, severe eye injuries, etc.;

– Acute poisoning by accidental ingestion or inhalation of pesticides or other toxic agricultural chemicals.

Physical hazards


– Excessive noise levels from mechanized equipment (mowers, saws, etc.), causing damage to the eardrum with possible loss of hearing;

– Overexposure to sunlight causing sunburn, heatstroke, skin melanomas, etc.;

– Exposure to harsh weather (cold, rain, snow, wind) causing frostbite, colds (with possible complications if work is continued under such conditions), etc.

Chemical hazards


– Dermatitis and other skin ailments as a result of prolonged contact with agrochemicals or solvents or by systemic effects due to inhalation of chemicals;

– Chronic poisoning as a result of prolonged inhalation, ingestion or absorption through the skin of agricultural chemicals containing heavy metals, (e.g., cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic), organophosphorous compounds, amines, etc.;

– Increased damage to skin presensitized by chemical exposures through exposure to sunlight (cytophotochemical effects).

Biological hazards


– Contact with allergenic plants, flowers, weeds, etc. (e.g., Ficus benjamina, various cacti, etc.) causing dermatoses, asthma, etc.;

– Inhalation of allergenic dust, pollen, oils, vapours, etc., of plant origin, causing hay fever, asthma, etc.;

– Contact of open wounds with manure, parasites, bird and animal excretions, insects, etc, causing local or general infections including tetanus, anthrax, etc.;

– Zoonotic diseases (e.g., spotted fever, Q-fever);

– Leptospirosis as a result of penetration of leptospirae through broken skin;

– Fungal diseases, caused by fungi present in the soil or on plant leaves (e.g., allergic aspergillosis, histoplasmosis (a pulmonary infection), etc.);

– Parasitic diseases caused by tick, chigger and mite bites (e.g., straw itch) or by larvae penetrating through broken skin (e.g., hookworm disease, ascariasis). In some cases, the infections may develop into neurotoxic effects and paralysis.

Ergonomic and social factors


Repetitive hand motions, incorrect postures (e.g., when planting flowers), lifting and carrying of heavy loads, etc., may cause low back pain, upper and lower limb ailments and other musculoskeletal problems.




  1. This occupation is commonly encountered in municipal services and on public, industrial, commercial or private grounds.
  2. According to published reports, as a result of exposure to various agrochemicals, gardeners may be at increased risk of carcinogenic and mutagenic effects; pregnant female gardeners may be at increased risk of spontaneous abortions and fœtotoxic or teratogenic effects.
  3. Chemicals to which a gardener may be exposed include a great variety of agricultural chemicals and formulations, including insecticides (organophosphorous, organochlorine, carba- mates, pyridyl, arsenicals, etc.), rodenticides, fungicides, liquid and gas fumigants (e.g., dibromoethane, methyl bromide), herbicides, fertilizers, etc.; fuels and lubricating oils; acids, cleaning and sterilizing compounds, solvents (particularly kerosene in pesticide formulations), etc.



International Labour Organization (ILO). 1979. Guide to Health and Hygiene in Agricultural Work. Geneva: ILO.

Worksafe Australia. 1995. Agriculture and Services to Agriculture Industries. Occupational Health and Safety Performance Overviews. Selected Industries, Issue No. 9. Canberra: Government of Australia.



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