A strong majority of the Greenwich RTM, the town's governing body, passed a new noise ordinance this week.
Unfortunately, in their rush to pass the ordinance, they ignored the safety of the landscapers and their workers with regard to both acute and long-term back injuries from excessively heavy, battery-powered backpack blowers.
For example, the Stihl battery-powered backpack blower, according to its website, weighs 37.9 pounds with a battery. Safe weights for backpacks depending on the source vary between 10 and 20% of body weight. At the upper limit of 20%, a worker would have to weigh 190 pounds to carry an electric backpack blower.
Overweight backpacks have been linked to a number of orthopedic conditions, both acute and chronic, including disc compression, shoulder injuries, nerve compression, knee and ankle injuries, which can be debilitating.
There is no mention if the backpack blowers' straps and support are orthopedically designed to minimize back injuries.
There is no mention of the fact that the batteries get hot.
Landscape workers, unlike typical backpack users, are not walking on level streets either, but instead irregular and sometimes hilly terrain. This should also be a factor in choosing the proper safe weight for a backpack blower. More severe injuries can occur if a worker falls while wearing a backpack.
The Greenwich RTM needs to seek opinions from orthopedic surgeons who specialize in back and spine injuries, as well as worker safety experts, and update the ordinance, accordingly, in order to keep gardening a safe occupation in Greenwich.