A friend of mine, who works for Chevron in Arizona, makes it a habit to start meetings he is responsible for with a “safety moment.” The topic of this short, five-minute presentation may be anything from requiring gloves during hazardous operations to safety tips while traveling.
When you think about it, safety is the most important thing any of us can advocate in our businesses. It directly impacts downtime and absenteeism, not to mention those ever-present, escalating insurance rates. And besides that, it is just a good practice to incorporate safety into your business, reminding your associates that you truly care about their well-being – and that you need them back on the job first thing tomorrow.
The business of landscaping presents plenty of safety challenges every day. Any operation of equipment with blades, chains or fishing line moving at several thousand RPM’s can be especially dangerous. That, combined with handling caustic chemicals (fertilizer, weed killers and pesticides), operating cumbersome equipment and constant exposure to the elements, serves to increase the incident rate for professional landscapers.
I once asked a friend of mine – a landscaper named Brian – what caused him the greatest safety worry in his business. “Who to designate as the driver of the trucks leaving the yard each morning,” he replied. He went on to explain that the concern was not so much about the proficiency of his associates, but with the population at large, whose first reaction after an accident seems to be a lawsuit when it involves a commercial vehicle hauling equipment – regardless of who is actually at fault.
Those who take a proactive approach to safety help create a culture of safety-conscious individuals throughout their business. Education is the obvious place to start this process, but incentives for adherence and strict consequences for those breaking the rules further supports a safety-first culture and ultimately a better workplace.
Total Landscape Care is trying to do our part to help educate our readers (and your staff) through our Safety Watch card each month. This month’s card can be found between pages 36 and 37, and warns of the dangers of working with trimmers and advises workers on their safe use. This Safety Watch card is produced on a thicker stock paper and is perforated so that it can be removed from the magazine and passed among your associates. The reverse side is in Spanish for greater versatility among a work crew. Pass it around each month, keep safety top of mind, start the day with a safety moment like my friend Brian does, and it will become an integral part of your future success.