2020 Safety Resolutions: Training, Equipment, Safety Culture Add Up to One Goal: Zero Injuries

From the January/February GRAIN JOURNAL.

Grain industry safety professionals were asked what resolutions they have for their operations in 2020.

Jake Armstrong
Safety Manager
Cameron Grain Corp.
Cameron, IL

“Our safety goals for 2020 are focused around grain quality, identifying out-of-condition grain, and proper Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training.

“With the wet harvest and carryover crop being stored, identifying poor quality grain and how to safely deal with it will be a concern.

“Another concern for Cameron Grain Corp. is our customer base dealing with this issue. We have already helped one customer deal with a bin fire and another with a small dryer fire.

“We want to spend time educating them on how to properly store this crop, how to deal with higher foreign material levels and moisture, and what to look for when checking their bins.

“Lastly, we are striving for zero workplace accidents and to keep everyone trained and informed on the OSHA standards for 2020.”

Brad Berkhof
Safety Director
New Vision Coop
Brewster, MN

“We have three main safety goals we are focusing on this year.

“First, we have established a higher-percentage safety score for safety audits at all 19 of our New Vision Coop locations that we must meet.

“Second, we are encouraging more classroom training on safety-specific topics at our facilities, such as rail safety, bin entry, and lockout/tagout. These are areas where, if established procedures aren’t followed, someone will get hurt.

“Classroom training will emphasize hands-on lessons, PowerPoint presentations, demonstrations, and impactful speakers who can deliver a strong message from experience.

“Last year, we had a guest speaker from a cooperative who had experienced a grain engulfment. This year, we plan to have a guest speaker who will have a firsthand account of the dangers of arc flash and its impact on him. He has a very powerful message to share.

“Third, we will strive to improve, as we all do, our overall safety culture at New Vision Coop. We will emphasize throughout the year and through all of our training how very important it is to follow procedures and not use shortcuts.”

James Schroeder
Safety Manager
Wheeler Brothers Grain Co.
Watonga, OK

“In the new year, we are continuing to focus on improving our safety culture at Wheeler Brothers.

“It’s crucial that we all understand why it’s important to follow safety procedures and fill out those forms each and every time a job requires it.

“It’s easy to get into the habit of cutting corners. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be OK, but it’s that 10th time that will hurt you. As humans, it’s natural to take the easiest way possible, but that’s not always the safest way.

“We’ll be emphasizing our safety culture through Safety Made Simple online training. The training is great because it’s specific for the grain industry, whether it’s personal protective equipment, power tools, grain handling, or fertilizer application.

“Last October, we implmented Safety Made Simple training with two classes per month. We’ve been really excited about how well this has gone, and we’re looking forward to continuing it this year.”

Chuck Kunisch
General Manager/
Acting Safety Director
Michigan Ag Commodities
Lansing, MI

“I think the No. 1 thing we need to continue to work on and improve at Michigan Ag Commodities is employee buy-in to our programs.

“We want them to follow safety procedures, not because we’re telling them to do it, but because they see the value in it for their own safety.

“It’s best if we get buy-in from our employees, and they implment the programs and follow the procedures and see how it actually will make their work lives safer. Our safety program revolves around that and makes all other parts work better.

“We use DEKRA, which has organizational expertise in safety, to help us document and implement our safety program.

“Each month, we also access two or three Safety Made Simple online programs in the classroom. They’re great resources, specific to the grain agriculture industry, for me and our workers.

“Joe Mlynek (president of Progressive Safety Services and Safety Made Simple content expert) is a consultant for our safety program as well, adding a lot of valuable expertise to our approach.

“From an equipment standpoint, we want to upgrade our gas monitor program to be able to purchase bump testers for each of our facilities. And we want to make sure all of our monitors are current with their calibrations.

“We’re also going with an online safety data sheet program. We had kept the forms ourselves, but we want to be more compliant and up to date with them. We also want our safety data sheets to be accessible by all of our employees.

“We’re using more technology now and will continue to increase its use to maintain and improve all of our safety programs in the coming year.”

Larry Arentson
Safety & Compliance Manager
Farmward Cooperative
Renville, MN

“A top issue this year at Farmward continues to be making sure everyone is buckled up each and every time they are in a vehicle as part of company business.

“We have salesmen out, grain trucks, feed trucks, and other employees in pickup trucks. It’s probably hundreds of times a day someone gets in a vehicle who works for us, and they need to use that seatbelt, even it’s just a short distance from field to field.

“Related to that is distracted driving. Our workers are busy and have cellphones, maps, and things they are checking on. We want their hands on the wheel, eyes ahead, and focused on their driving.

“We encourage taking care of everything before they start driving, and pulling to the side of the road if they need to answer a phone call. It’s especially important during winter when we should be extra cautious on the roads. It’s not always obvious when a road is wet or slippery this time of year.

“As far as everyday safety, we want everyone to use the right personal protective equipment correctly, whether it’s a harness, safety glasses, gloves, or whatever the situation calls for.

“Another important area we emphasize, espcially during winter, is slips, trips, and falls. We need to be cautious, not only while walking outside, but also inside where there can be standing water or snow from foot traffic.

“Think first. Use your mind to protect your body. It’s part of our safety culture.”

Bin Entry Safety from NGFA on Vimeo.