Grounds Operations and Maintenance

This course is designed for entry level (seasonal) practitioners who are seeking employment in the recreation facility industry, or who have current duties that include grounds maintenance but have had no formal training to assist in their ability to prove competency. Building on the required prerequisite of having a strong understanding of Ontario health and safety laws, this course will explore the known risks, hazards and industry best practices associated with grounds work. Given that it is recommended that participants have a reasonable understanding of Ontario’s health and safety laws and WHMIS prior to taking this course, participants may wish to complete ORFA’s Legal I or PSHSA’s Health and Safety two day course.

Day One – Understanding the Role and Responsibilities of Today’s Grounds Worker
    • A history of providing outdoor recreation services
    • Legislation that controls grounds operations other than the OHSA
    • Governing inspection agencies that control grounds work
    • The Highway Traffic Act and how it applies to grounds worker
    • Basic customer service skills – being effective in your interaction with the general public while performing your duties
    • The importance of staying in tune with changes that can impact your role and responsibilities as a grounds worker
    • Working safely outdoors – know the risks associated with changing weather patterns, sun exposure and heat risks etc.
    • Back strain reduction through proper lifting education
    • Chemical safety
    • Hazardous weeds and invasive species identification, risks and disposal methods
    • Water systems
    • Personal Protective Equipment used by a grounds worker
    • Working alone safely
    • Working at height safely
    • Insect safety
    • Sharps
Day Two – Grounds Risk and Hazard Reduction Strategies

Reducing risk and liability by being able to identify and take positive action in removing outdoor hazards is an important part of all grounds workers. This session focuses on the importance of all grounds workers to be able identify risk factors, correct the situation, or take appropriate action and to complete a detailed accurate report of the process to defend the employer should litigation occur..

Topics will include:

    • Ongoing and comprehensive playground equipment inspection
    • Maintaining public trails and walkways for trip and slip hazards
    • Public safety through ongoing infrastructure maintenance and upkeep
    • Inspecting sports fields
    • Dealing with illegal behaviour involving drugs and/or alcohol
    • Controlling unsafe environments – properly controlling or stopping use
    • Offering safe significant community events
    • Effectively completing daily logs and reports – words to use and avoid

The day concludes with a series of interactive challenges to put the gained knowledge to practical use by all participants

Day Three – Equipment Safety

Every grounds worker will be expected to use a series of tools in their duties. These will include but not limited to hand, power and motorized equipment. Knowing how to safely use each tool starts with a strong foundation of identification, selection and preparation for use.

Topics will include:

    • Understanding basic terms and terminology associated with ground maintenance tools
    • Getting your equipment off-site and to the work location safely
    • Using electricity safely outdoors
    • Hand tools used by today’s grounds keepers
    • Fossil fuel safety
    • Introduction to hand held fossil fueled landscaping equipment
    • Chain saws
    • Grass trimmers
    • Hedge trimmers
    • Introduction to safely using motorized landscaping equipment
    • Risks of cuts, projectiles or roll overs
    • Role of the equipment’s operational manual, safety Alerts and safety videos
    • The importance of circle checking and logging inspections prior to use
    • The obligation of workplace specific training by the employer

The day concludes with a series of interactive challenges to put the gained knowledge to practical use by all participants.

Day Four – Grounds Equipment Worker Safety: Practical Demonstrations

This session is designed to introduce frontline staff to the obligations of both a supervisor and worker under the Occupational Health and Safety Act specific to safe use of grounds maintenance equipment:

27. (1) A supervisor shall ensure that a worker, (a) works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by this Act and the regulations; and (b) uses or wears the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the worker’s employer requires to be used or worn (2) Without limiting the duty imposed by subsection (1), a supervisor shall, (a) advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware; (b) where so prescribed, provide a worker with written instructions as to the measures and procedures to be taken for protection of the worker

28. (1) A worker shall, (b) use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the worker’s employer requires to be used or worn; (c) report to his or her employer or supervisor the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device of which the worker is aware and which may endanger himself, herself or another worker; and (2) No worker shall, (b) use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing or work in a manner that may endanger himself, herself or any other worker;

To effectively and efficiently conduct grounds maintenance today’s grounds worker will be required to safely operate a variety of fossil fuelled powered equipment and hand tools. Each of these implements will present risk of injury to both the worker and persons in close proximity if not used safely. Workers must comprehend environmental factors such as difficult terrain and equipment design features that can protect the worker or create a high potential for injury. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of standard operating procedures (SOP). Developing SOPs that are adopted by all workers have been proven to greatly reduce potential worker injuries. These workplace specific directives must identify key requirements such as personal protective equipment, safeguards on saws, trimmers, grinders, mowers. Workers must be able to identify high risk work that may cause harm because of rollovers or other injury due to risky behaviour. Once this information has been collected a worker will be able to develop and implement site specific work plans.

This training will further assist participants to better understand the limitations of all driven equipment such as mowers, all-terrain vehicles’ or other wheeled grounds maintenance equipment. Once complete, the participant will return to work and be able to quickly adapt their new knowledge to expedite workplace specific training.

This session will include demonstrations from industry leaders in a real workplace environment.

Topics will include:

    • Identification of grounds equipment that require specific training and or certifications prior to use by any worker
    • The importance of reading the operational manual and/or reviewing manufacturer instructional videos for each piece of equipment to understand and adopt the recommended safe operation directions, maintenance, limitations and warning sections of these documents
    • Safely getting equipment to the worksite – loading ramps, trailer connections, disconnection, lighting systems and proper tie-down methods
    • Worker risk factors such as slips, trips and falls, lifting heavy objects, surveying hazards from above
    • Introduction to standard self-powered grounds equipment safety devices such as rollover protection systems, guards, seat belts, and shields
    • The importance of pre-work equipment inspections, checklists and log books
    • Identifying key grounds equipment such as aerators, brush chippers, de-thatcher’s, power rakes, riding mowers, rollers, tractors/loaders, seeders, slope mowers, stump grinders, top-dressers, utility vehicles and the primary purpose of each piece
    • The significance of surveying the terrain to identify natural hazards/obstacles like drop-offs, embankments, streams, ditches culverts and excavations large rocks and inclines or man-made hazards such as electrical wires both in the ground and above, retainer walls signs and trash receptacles, tree stumps, soft or wet spots
    • Understanding the health and safety benefits of proper speed control, backing up safely, and the hazards associated with improper steering and/or maneuvering methods
    • The need to properly use all required personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times: hearing and head protection, safety glasses, work boots, etc.
    • The risk factors associated with wearing jewelry and loose-fitting clothing
    • The benefits of properly mounting or dismounting riding equipment
    • Proper powered hand tool use – understanding that equipment such a chain saws, augers, concrete saws, blowers, trimmers etc. cannot be just picked-up and used
    • Safely mixing, storing, transporting, using and disposing of fossil fuels

Upon conclusion of this session workers will be able to identify risks and hazards associated with grounds power equipment and clearly understand their role and supervisory obligations prior to using grounds equipment. And that the internal responsibility systems obligates the worker to step forward and request the necessary workplace specific training.

Day Five – Reducing Liability: Effective Playground Inspections

This session will provide participants with the skills and knowledge to:

    • Identify outdoor hazards for a variety of grounds areas and to provide a framework for remedial solutions and actions to defend the employer should litigation occur.
    • Understand the hazard reduction strategy which will include details and an inspection toolbox which will contain visual observation documentation, forms, checklists and manufacturers recommendation manuals.
    • Identify situations that can result in injury, we will present claim cases where appropriate.



This section of the presentation will include the requirements of the CSA Z614-14 standard for children’s play spaces and equipment and its application during summer activities highlighting the maintenance requirements of the surfacing materials. We will discuss the issue of extremely hot surfaces relating to the play equipment where children have received 3rd degree burns and provide some remedies available to existing playgrounds.

Topics include:

    • emergency issues-911, cell phone coverage, accessibility
    • signage
    • location and nearby attractive nuisances
    • street furniture
    • fountains and washroom facilities
    • accessibility requirements under the AODA act

Our presentation topics will include soccer, football and baseball fields.

Topics include:

    • line of sight
    • fencing
    • back to back fields
    • grass inspection and gopher holes
    • netting
    • parking
    • visitor stands & protection
    • lighting
3-Parks & Golf Courses (summer) and Tobogganing Hills (winter)

Topics will include:

    • landscaping-visibility and tree failure/arborists
    • storm damage assessment & remediation (trees and water courses)
    • signage
    • designated versus non-sanctioned hills
    • end of run hazards (creeks, trees etc)
    • end of run options (snow fencing, hay bales etc)
    • agreements outlining responsibility for maintenance of the hill and the parking lot and defining the time period

Topics will include:

    • recreational trails and pathways
    • multiuse trails
    • management strategy
    • training of volunteers
    • user levels
    • markings
    • barriers
    • signage
5-Outdoor Pools and Splash Pads

Topics will include:

    • types of pools e.g. wave, kiddie, lap, diving
    • fencing
    • play equipment e.g. slides and flumes
    • swimming equipment
    • surrounding areas such as decks, change rooms, showers, dive boards
    • food and drink
    • lifeguards
    • staff training
    • first aid and health and safety
    • hot surfaces
    • cleaning and chlorine handling
    • inspection of ladders, drains, chemical levels
    • pool closure rules
    • signage
6-Outdoor Ice Rinks

Topics will include:

    • building the rink
    • flooding equipment
    • ice resurfacing machines
    • spectator benches
    • ice thickness and conditions
    • rink boards,stanchions & safety glass
    • signage
    • worker safety
Personal Protective Equipment Required: Participants attending this course must supply and wear their own CSA-approved footwear suitable for an outdoor grounds environment. No exceptions.