Original publish date: June 2007
It’s one of the first things children learn in biology class — when something doesn’t move, it’s usually dead. Living organisms tend to be very active on a day-to-day basis.
This lesson applies equally well to your average ag retailer when it comes to conducting employee training programs. As Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for The Fertilizer Institute, points out, continually updating an employee’s knowledge through a comprehensive training program is one of the best ways for retailers to ensure safety and security procedures are up-to-date.
“Without a good training program that constantly is being updated, you can’t hope to keep up with the changes in the marketplace,” says Mathers. “If you just train once in a while, your company is asking for trouble down the road.”
Here we explore some of the methods ag retailers are using to keep their safety and security training programs vibrant and exciting to their employees.
1. Determine Which Kinds Of Training Need Regular Updating
The first step for any retailer looking at their training programs is to figure out which ones need to have annual update sessions. “Our safety manager provides annual training to assure that all our employees are current on their appropriate certifications,” says Jeff Draper, regional sales manager for GROWMARK FS, LLC in Bridgeton, NJ. The facility also regularly informs its employees of how to handle any materials that are considered hazardous.
2. Decide On A Training Schedule For Key Employees To Follow
In many cases, retailers will need to make certain employees are constantly trained to properly perform their duties at the outlet. In particular, says Lisa Ochsner, unit supervisor for Simplot Grower Solutions, Torrington, WY, safety training is always in need of an update.
“We currently have three employees trained in HAZMAT I,” says Ochsner. “All three of these people train annually to maintain this certification. All other employees have been trained on hazardous materials that they will handle.”
Simplot also goes out into the field with its training efforts. “We constantly educate our staff, whether through area meetings or state and national meetings,” she says.
3. Train Employees And Visitors
Taking training programs beyond the facility grounds is another way to keep such sessions interesting and informative. According to Tom Zornes, office manager for The McGregor Co., Oakesdale, WA, his company provides both kinds of training. “We pride ourselves on our training, both for our employees and our customers,” says Zornes. “Every year, the crew attends a day-long seminar on the latest chemical and label changes.” In addition, McGregor invites its grower-customers to learn more about the company’s training efforts through outlet tours.
4. Meet Regularly To Share Current News And Training Tips
Once a retailer has completed a training schedule, it is a good idea to bring employees together to share information.
“We have monthly safety meetings to cover regulatory topics as well as any current issues,” says Jason Bradbury, crop consultant for Crop Production Services (CPS) in Breckenridge, MI. “We also have tailgate sessions, where we meet for about 15 minutes to discuss any immediate problems.”
Besides these sessions, CPS also conducts mock emergency seminars to address such topics as spills, accidents, and fires.