Cemetery Worker Safety

Cemetery workers operate year round in all types of weather. Their job duties include: grounds keeping, excavating, and equipment moving and setup, landscaping, and chemical management. Due to the variable nature of their work and the potential fatalities, cemetery workers must use good work practices and get training on job hazards such as field safety, ergonomics, and excavation.

Grave Digging Safety

Grave digging at a cemetery can be done by hand or with excavating equipment. Before you dig, do not assume the area is clear of hazards, ensure that there are no underground hazards such as pipes or utilities. Always get training on the use and maintenance of excavating equipment before using it and always inspect the equipment before use. If you use manual digging tools, ensure they are the proper size and weight for you to use them properly. Use a functional and proper tool for the job; using the wrong tool can lead to injury.

Cemetery OSHA Trenching and Excavation Safety Requirements, must be followed when digging graves. Grave sides deeper than 5 feet should be shored with supports such as timber or metal struts and hydraulic jacks to avoid a collapse. Sloping is another safety measure for trenches. As with all equipment, you must inspect the shoring equipment before each use. Often timber or metal struts and jacks can deteriorate over time and should not be used. After the grave is excavated, ensure you clearly mark the area to prevent falls.

Gravesite Safety

When operating a gravesite, one will often be moving and setting up chairs and other furniture, pavilions, and caskets and casket lowering devices. To protect yourself, you must use good body mechanics and proper lifting techniques when moving these items. Use mechanical lifting equipment to get materials to the gravesite and set them up wherever possible.

Gravestone Safety

Marble, concrete and other memorial stones are often dotted throughout the cemetery landscape. Overturned stones can cause fatalities due to their weight. Be sure to inspect existing stones routinely to ensure that they are firmly and securely set. Use mechanical lifting devices when moving stones and always ensure that the load and rigging are secure before moving the stone. Whether in motion or not, always set and properly secure memorial stones to protect yourself and others.

Cemetery Grounds Safety

Keeping the grounds of a cemetery pristine includes: lawn maintenance, trimming trees and shrubs, and attending to grave sites. Always inspect and maintain lawn equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as steel-toed boots and sturdy work gloves. Use chemical safety precautions such as safety goggles, impermeable coveralls, chemical-resistant gloves and respiratory protection when mixing and applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides, 

When outside, be sure to practice sun protection and taking precautions for cold and heat stress. Educate yourself about hazardous pests such as wasps, bees and snakes and the appropriate response and first aid for stings and bites. Be sure to avoid slips, trips and falls by practicing caution when moving through the landscape and being aware of uneven ground. Finally, always avoid walking over grave sites and concrete slabs, you never know if a grave may cave in or a slab might be slippery.