Communicating Ag Retail Safety Through Signage

Visitors Sign

According to Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, one of the simplest ways for ag retailers to communicate their security and safety protocols to observers is through the use of signs. “They can tell visitors where they shouldn’t be and give warnings of the potential dangers from the various inputs being kept on-site,” says Payne.

Here we look at what kind of signs retailers should have at their facilities.

1. Determine Where Signs Should Be On The Outside Perimeter

The first set of signs should be placed towards the outside of the outlet’s grounds. These would include signs on the front gate or perimeter fence asking for all visitors to sign in or warning trespassers to stay away, on the outside of storage buildings which are restricted due to their contents, and around any storage tanks for hazardous materials such as anhydrous ammonia (NH3) warning of the health risks such products can cause when not handled properly.

“Here at McGregor, we are big believers in the power the first line of signs can provide for your facility,” says Ted Deerkop, area manager for The McGregor Co. in Garfield, WA. “Any visitors to our facility will immediately see a sign on our front gate warning them that the grounds are monitored by security cameras and asking them to sign in at the main office before proceeding anywhere at our outlet.”

2. Determine Where Signs Should Be On The Inside

Once sign placements have been decided on for a facility’s outside perimeter, retailers next need to figure out where signs make sense on the inside of buildings. According to Allen Rusk, marketing manager for Wabash Valley Service Co., McLeansboro, IL, inside signs can help to identify sensitive areas of the outlet, where only qualified employees are permitted to go. They also can tell visitors to the facility which areas might have wet/slippery floors, contain flammable materials, and what safety procedures should be followed in emergencies.

“These signs are a great way to communicate with employees and non-employees alike,” says Rusk. “If they are placed correctly, they can serve as a warning when needed or help explain what your company’s policy is when it comes to dealing with any kind of emergency product spill or situation.”

3. Determine What Other ‘Signs’ Might Be Appropriate

In addition to actual signs placed around the outlet, retailers should consider what kind of other “signs” can communicate to visitors that their facility is doing everything it can to promote dealership security. Some of the more common “signs” that a retail outlet is secure would include very visible locks on all NH3/crop protection tank valves, well illuminated security cameras pointed at key building entrances, and security entry pads on doorways that require a special code to allow entry.

“We have several security keypads located around our main storage buildings,” says Bill Garver, plant manager for Brandt Consolidated in Ashland, IL. “These are always active during off-hours so that no one can get into our warehouses without someone in our main office knowing about it.”

4. Make Certain Signs Are Clean, Easy To Read

As communication ambassadors for visitors and employees alike, security signs should always be in top-notch shape. According to Kent Kutnink, regulatory manager for Agriliance, St. Paul, MN, most signs are made from durable enough materials to withstand years of elements and harsh product contact. However, continual exposure to direct sunlight can made some of them hard to read.

“In these cases, retailers will definitely want to replace these signs,” says Kutnink. “If your outlet is trying to communicate its security measures to customers and employees, your signs cannot be impossible to read or understand.”

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