Fundamentals of a Tailgate Safety Program

Safety is one of the primary concerns for all landscapers. A large part of that commitment to safety is an effective Tailgate Safety Program. While many landscapers devote considerable time to Tailgate Safety, many do not because they think they do not have the time or money to do it the right way. A properly-designed tailgate safety program can go a long way in decreasing workers’ compensation costs, helping employees stay safe while at work, and improving team morale as the company builds a safety culture.

Here are the fundamentals of a Tailgate Safety Program.



  • Select the safety topics that are most relevant for your organization’s needs.
  • Some companies have 52 different topics; one for each week of the year.
  • More effectively, choose 13 topics that get repeated four times each year.
  • Here are some examples of the most frequently cited tailgate topics
    • PPE
    • Hand Tools
    • Drugs and Alcohol
    • Heat-related Illness
    • Mowers
    • Proper Lifting Techniques
    • Trucks and Trailers
    • String Trimmers
    • Working with Chemicals


  • Develop an annual Training Calendar.
  • Conduct the tailgate sessions on the same day each and every week; usually Tuesday works best.
  • Make sure all training content can fit onto a one page handout.
  • All training must be available in English and Spanish.
  • Have the Employee Acknowledgment Form available at each session.
  • Distribute the weekly Tailgate Safety Handout to every employee.
  • The entire tailgate experience should not exceed 15 minutes.
  • Have the Crew Leaders or Safety Coordinator deliver the training to the crews each week.
  • The Crew Leaders must verify that all employees sign the Acknowledgment Form.
  • Managers collect the Acknowledgment Forms and give them to the Office Manager for filing.


  • Every Acknowledgment Form must be cross-referenced against a list of current employees.
  • Office Manager must verify that every employee received and signed for the training.
  • Absent employees must make up the training that same week.
  • All Acknowledgment Forms must be scanned onto the computer network for that week.
  • This documentation will likely be requested during an OSHA audit.

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.