It’s the start of the season – you shouldn’t just be thinking about ground care products such as weed killers, fertilisers and grass seed but you should also taking time to make sure all your grounds maintenance equipment is up to scratch.
Often landscaping equipment such as knapsacks, broadcast spreaders and PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as coveralls, masks and nitrile gloves have been put away for the winter. Problems that you had with them last summer have been forgotten, and often the storage has meant they may have degraded or moving parts seized up.
There is nothing more annoying than going to start a job and realising your garden equipment is not up to ‘spec’; it can be even more frustrating and cost you time and money if your equipment fails when you are out on a job. So as the weeds start to grow, don’t just think about the ground care jobs you will be carrying out but also think about the maintenance and servicing you should be doing.
Since the launch of the Voluntary Initiative (VI) and the requirement for routine testing of boom sprayers, slug and granular applicators there are more people carrying out NSTS (National Sprayer Testing Scheme) tests on their equipment. But it doesn’t and shouldn’t just stop there, many people nowadays are also carrying out regular servicing and checks on their pesticide sprayers and PPE.
What to look for?
When checking spray equipment such as knapsacks after storage – the sort of areas that you should look are the weed sprayers’ rubber seals, diaphragms and hoses are perished or hardened. Inspect your inline filters for blockages as well as looking for damaged spray nozzles and weakened backpack harnesses. If you’ve invested in a brand such as Cooper Pegler or Berthoud you’ll be pleased to find that there are 100’s of Cooper Pegler spare parts or Berthoud spares for most of your knapsack – plus many of these knapsack spare parts can be interchanged to revamp sprayers as old as 15-20 years.
Whilst you are servicing your knapsack you should also look to carry out a service check on your PPE (personal protective equipment). As we know it is a legal requirement to provide suitable PPE equipment for employees who are exposed to health and safety risks at work, as well as ourselves. But this is becoming even more vitally important, particularly with the increased focus being placed on an employers’ liability.
Protective equipment including safety clothing such as coveralls and ultra nitrile gloves should be checked to make sure there are no rips, tears or scuffs that could let herbicides in. Hand protection when handling pesticides is vital so it is always worth checking your nitrile rubber gloves. A handy tip for doing this, is to squeeze the cuff together to see if any air escapes from the hands; however never blow into the glove to check it can hold air.
We are finding that many groundscare maintenance contractors now carry out weekly, if not daily inspections on their coveralls, masks, nitrile gloves etc. and to help them we have produced a handy Routine Operator Checklist for PPE Equipment which helps as a guide.
However even if you are not a contractor and just a keen gardener using a garden sprayer you should still carry tests out to make sure your weed sprayer is functioning. Doing this will ensure you are applying product accurately, evenly and without wastage. Overdosing or under dosing can happen if your weed sprayer is not functioning properly which can reduce the effectiveness of your job.
So with a spring in your step it is now time to step forward and get your equipment checked.
Use our handy checklists below to get started:
Download our FREE Knapsack Sprayer Routine Operator Checklist
Download our FREE Personal Protective Equipment Inspection Checklist