Instructor Guide for Landscaping/Horticulture

PDF Version

(Part of Landscaping Safety Series)

References in this document to page numbers refer to the PDF versions of the Landscaping Safety Series.

Below are links to PDF versions of the Landscaping Safety Series:

Tractor Safety Training Guide.
Motor Vehicle Safety Training Guide.
Chipper/Shredder Safety Training Guide.
Skid Steer Safety Training Guide.
Tree Trimming Safety Training Guide.
Aerial Lift Safety Training Guide.
Mowing and Trimming Safety Training Guide.
Guide to Managing Safety
Instructor Guide for Landscape/Horticulture


Introduction What's Inside?
Training Techniques.
Tractor Safety Training Guide.
Motor Vehicle Safety Training Guide.
Chipper/Shredder Safety Training Guide.
Skid Steer Safety Training Guide.
Tree Trimming Safety Training Guide.
Aerial Lift Safety Training Guide.
Mowing and Trimming Safety Training Guide.

What's Inside?

Effective safety training requires careful planning and preparation. This Instructor Guide is designed to improve training techniques to better reach adult learners and a diverse workforce. This manual will guide instructors through safety training courses: tractor, motor vehicle, skid steer, chipper/shredder, tree trimming, aerial lift, and mowing and trimming and assist them in planning and preparing learning activities.

Training Techniques for Adult Learners

Adults learn best when they are active partners in the learning process. Don't lecture to adults. Instead, get them involved in discussions, problem solving and hands-on activities. Give them a chance to share their experiences. Provide lots of encouragement and coaching to help them master the material.

When training adult learners:

Training should be active, not passive
.Adults learn better from doing than from listening. Provide experiences that allow for teamwork, problem solving, and practical application of skills. Participants will lose interest in training if they are not being challenged.

Participants must be able to relate to the training.
Make sure there is a clear connection between training activities and the work experiences of participants. Use realistic examples and problems as teaching tools. Incorporate familiar equipment and visual aids. Ask participants to describe how they can apply training concepts to their own jobs.

Training must address participants' immediate needs.
Concentrate on the most important safety skills participants need for their jobs. Focus on practical information. Keep training activities short and to the point.

Allow participants to have a say in the learning agenda.
Ask participants to help identify important topics for training. Find out what they hope to learn, and take time to discuss safety issues that are important to them.

Encourage participants to share experiences and knowledge during training.
Adults take pride in sharing their knowledge with others. Instead of telling them information, ask them questions and let them tell you what they know. Use the knowledge they already have as a starting point for more advanced learning.

Get their input before you begin planning.

Identify their needs.

Have a purpose and state it clearly.

Apply training to their work.

Involve participants with discussion questions and hands-on exercises.

Give them the chance to provide meaningful feedback.

Use examples, scenarios, problems and visual aids as teaching tools.

Build on the experiences of your participants.

Training in the Diverse Workforce

You must adapt your training techniques to fit the needs of your workforce.

Cultural Differences
Attitudes about safety vary from culture to culture. Make sure participants understand that safety is just as important as production in your organization.
Ask how safety was handled where they worked before:

  • Did they have safety committees?
  • What were the safety rules?
  • Was anyone ever injured?
  • What were the consequences for not following safety rules?

Make sure participants understand any differences in how safety is handled in your organization.

New employees learn by watching. Experienced workers must set an example so new employees understand that safety is expected on the job.

Language Barriers

Participants who do not understand instructions given in English may nod in agreement or say yes even when they do not fully understand what is being said. As a result, they may begin a job without knowing the safest way to perform the work. Use visual aids and hands-on exercises whenever possible. Demonstrate the tasks and check for comprehension by having participants repeat the tasks correctly.
Be aware that even if the material is in the participant's native language, some workers may not have the reading skills to understand. It can be helpful to partner new employees with more experienced bilingual workers. Mentoring is one of the most effective methods for teaching job skills to low-literacy workers.

  • Always demonstrate the task - don't just talk about it. Ask participants to repeat the same task for you and don't move on until you feel comfortable they understand.
  • Identify training topics simply and clearly.
  • Make it clear when you finish one topic and begin another. For instance, when training about personal protective equipment, hold up a pair of safety glasses and say, "Now we are going to discuss safety glasses." When you move on to hardhats, hold up a hardhat and say, "We have finished talking about safety glasses. Now we are going to discuss hardhats."
  • Break jobs into specific steps and show participants the safe way to perform each step.
  • Use props and visual aids whenever possible.
  • Ask bilingual participants to help plan and assist with training.
  • If a participant is observed working in an unsafe manner, immediately explain and demonstrate how to do the task safely and have the worker repeat the task.

Young Workers

Young workers may not understand dangers that are obvious to older and more experienced workers. They may be less likely to ask questions or bring up problems to persons in positions of authority.

  • Evaluate every job in advance to determine if young workers can perform it safely.
  • Break jobs into specific steps and demonstrate the safe way to perform each step.
  • Ask the worker to repeat the demonstration until you are comfortable that s/he understands.
  • Have young workers complete job-specific safety training before performing any new duties. Training should be repeated periodically and when there are changes in work procedures and equipment.
  • Point out hazards whenever they are encountered.
  • Always model the appropriate behavior - if long-term employees and supervisors take dangerous shortcuts, so will young workers.

Always make training:

  • Relevant
  • Practical
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Active

Learning Activities

Participants learn best when they have a chance to discover information by applying it to their work. Below are brief explanations of the activities you can use to minimize lecture time and emphasize active participation.

Personal Introductions

Let participants know you are interested in them.
Ask questions:

  • How long have you been been working here?
  • Have you witnessed any accidents on the job?
  • What kinds of training have you had in the past?
  • What do you expect to gain from this training?

Keep introduction time brief and informal. Allow enough time for meaningful expression, but keep the introductions moving.


Allow participants to relate their experiences, share their knowledge and explore topics of discussion. Here are a few tips:

  • Don't allow a limited number of participants to dominate the discussion. Draw in hesitant participants by occasionally calling on them by name and asking them if they have anything to add.
  • Don't pressure participants if they appear nervous about speaking up.
  • Don't allow participants to be ridiculed for their opinions. Make sure everyone knows that all points of view are valid topics for discussion.
  • Keep the discussion rolling. Move on to the next topic or activity if discussion is getting bogged down.

Case Studies

Because case studies are realistic examples, participants can apply new information to familiar situations.
Case studies present a problem and allow for discussion, development and evaluation of possible solutions. Discussion of case studies can take any of the following forms:

  • The entire class can work through each case study together.
  • Each individual can work through the case studies and discuss possible solutions with the group.
  • The class can broken into groups and each group can work on a different case study and report back to the class. This option often provides the best opportunity to encourage teamwork while still allowing all participants to make a meaningful contribution.

Hands-On Exercises

Whenever possible, reinforce every lesson by having participants practice each skill with the same tools and equipment they will be using on the job. Hands-on exercises often take the following form:

  1. Instructor or experienced employee demonstrates the correct technique.
  2. Participants practice while instructor observes and coaches.
  • Make sure the exercise is conducted safely.
  • Provide any necessary background information.
  • Provide appropriate supervision.
  • Take necessary precautions to avoid injury.
  • Provide frequent, appropriate feedback.

Visual Aids

Help participants understand by illustrating training material with the use of visual aids:

  • If it can be done safely, let participants handle the same tools and equipment they will be using on the job.
  • Use overheads and slides to reinforce training topics.
  • Keep visual aids relevant and make sure they serve to increase understanding.


Keep participants actively involved and provide an alternative to lecture by asking, rather than telling them about important concepts. For instance, instead of lecturing participants about how to prevent tractor rollovers on hills, you can involve participants by saying, "What precautions do you take so your tractor doesn't roll over when you are working on a hill?"When using questioning as a learning activity:

  • Repeat participant responses or record them on a chalkboard, overhead or flipchart.
  • Make sure all important information has been discussed and any incorrect responses have been addressed tactfully.

Contests and Competitions

Motivate participants with contest and competitions.Some examples:

  • Divide the class into groups. In turn, ask each group a multiple choice or true/false question. Each group gets one point for every correct answer. If a group misses a question, allow the next group to answer it for a point. Keep track of points and recognize the winning group. Use the questions as opportunities to discuss training material.
  • Divide the class into groups. Have each group work on a hands-on task (observe safety precautions as noted for hands-on exercises above). Score each group based on a predetermined checklist.


Throughout the training session, use questions and hands-on exercises to evaluate participant progress and knowledge. Provide constructive feedback and ensure participants are mastering important safety concepts and procedures.

Planning and Preparation

Effective safety training requires careful planning and preparation. Address the following before training:

Training Objectives
Develop written statements of the desired knowledge or skill to be demonstrated by participants. Identify the objectives as determined by your organization and/or use those listed in the participant manual. Ask participants to share any important issues they want to address in training.

Make sure to provide a safe physical environment, with adequate emergency exits, suitable climate, lighting, restrooms and seating.

Provide an adequate supply of all training materials. Visual aids and equipment should be available and in good working order.

Record attendance. A sample sign-in sheet is provided here.

Participant Evaluation
Use hands-on performance evaluations and quizzes at the end of each lesson to evaluate participant knowledge.

Evaluation of Training
Ask participants how training can be improved. An example of a training evaluation form is provided here.

This Instructor Guide provides learning activities for each lesson in the landscaping and horticultural services industry manuals. Review each lesson and select learning activities most appropriate for your audience, materials, facilities and time.

This material was produced under grant number 46G3-HT04 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. It does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

This booklet was produced by K-State Research and Extension, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

The information in this publication has been compiled from a variety of sources believed to be reliable and to represent the best current opinion on the subject. However, neither K-State Research and Extension nor its authors guarantee accuracy or completeness of any information contained in this publication, and neither K-State Research and Extension or its authors shall be responsible for any errors, omissions, or damages arising out of the use of this information. Additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.

Brand names appearing in this publication are for product identification purposes only. No endorsement is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned.

Publication #: MF2716

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More