Health & Safety for Floristry

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Whether working in a florist shop or working in your own home, there are often hidden dangers that you need to be careful to be aware of. One of the most important things to remember is that foliage and other plant material on the floor can be the cause of a lot of slips and falls. Keep the floor area swept as you go to avoid this, stems once stepped on often become slippery as the juice is crushed out and its like stepping on an ice cube. the other menace underfoot is cellophane - cut offs are also a hazard if stepped on and are sometimes not as easily seen as foliage!

Cutting wires is also to be done carefully, hold the wire down and away from others because as you cut the end pieces can fly off into faces and eyes. Be aware also of where pins are on the workbench there's nothing worse than gathering up pieces of paper and debris and ending up with a hidden pin stuck in your hand.

Glue Gun Use.  When you get hot glue dripped onto your finger its instinct to rub the finger with the thumb and then it spreads and burns, I speak from experience! What I always do and advise students to do also, is to have a small bowl of cold water to hand so that if you do happen to drip the hot gule onto your fingers you can immediately put them into the water, this instantly turns the glue hard and prevents it spreading or continuing to burn, it can then be peeled off and the burn covered from the air, preferably with cling film.

Walking about with knives and scissors is also to be avoided for obvious reasons, espeically if you havent swept the floor!

Ladder work: Never over reach. Its so tempting to just try and reach that next important place rather than go down the ladder and move it a few inches over but its always the case that over reaching while up a ladder fixing arrangements in marquees or churches is often the cause of disaster.

While talking about that, and marquees in particular, you'll find that the floor is often very uneven, sometimes the marquee erectors place hessian on the floor or burlap and its bumpy and lumpy, get someone to hold the bottom of the ladder at all times, be aware than knives in pockets and scissors in jean belts are going to damage you if you topple, carpenter type tool belts are good for ladder work, or just put them on the top rung while you tie and arrange.

Try to arrive at a venue before the caterers -if you do drop something from a ladder, its best its on an unlaid table than onto one laden with china and glass.

Some plant and flower material is poisonous and although you're probably thinking 'yeah well who is going to eat them?' think how tempting to a child red berries are if within reach, or wired artificial strawberries for instance. Try and be aware that low level arrangements at a wedding or other festive occasion might tempt those who dont know better to cause themselves harm.

If you intend to work in floristry its important to know if your tetanus protection is up to date also. Roses are grown in manure rich soil and the tetnus can pass into your bloodstream via the thorn pricks you will undoubtedly have, so make sure your jab is up to date, I think that 10yrs is the normal refresh time for it.

Sometimes nicks and cuts can occur when you least expect it so keep plasters in your tool box and with you when out decorating, think what a nightmare it would be to have blood from a cut on someone's wedding flowers, exactly.

Its fun doing floristry but there are hazards as with all trades and its a good florist's responsibility to keep the area they are working in safe for themselves and the others around them at all times, even when trying to beat the clock and rushing to meet the deadlines DO please keep safe and those around you.

For candle arrangements always give the customer a disclaimer card, it should say something like this: The candle in this arrangement is for decoration purposes only and is lit at your own risk'. You can be held liable if for instance you put arrangements on tables with candles and light them thinking how lovely it looks only to hear the sound of fire engines rushing to the scene when the guests have fired highly flammable party poppers across the tables.....ooops. Some florists even cut the wick down low so they cant be lit but I think this is a bit extreme. The customer should be made aware that it is for them to decide with agreement of the venue owner as to whether the candles can be lit or not, just leave it to them but explain the dangers.

These tips by no means cover everything, Id probably put you off doing floristry entirely and thats not my intention, but just take on board some of these tips and you can avoid a few common pitfalls.  Oh yes and finally - dont touch the wedding cake! Let the caterer move it to the cake table and gently place your flowers, never say you'll put the cake on the table or move it once its placed, I wont bother stating why in case you get nightmares.

Happy Floristry and keep safe!

The top of this guide has a link to my store where you can buy floristry sundries and related products, buyers from me get a link to my free online floristry guide. Take Care Eve


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