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UAC MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012


BUSINESS


company also has a 10-member safety committee that works directly with crew chiefs.


“Te safety committee members travel from jobsite to jobsite, overseeing the crew chiefs, and looking closely at safety practices,” says Rivera. Stay Green has 250 employees.


Safety behind


“The vehicle abstract tells me what tickets they’ve gotten, including whether they’ve ever been cited for driving under the influence. I have to tell you that I’ve been surprised by some of what gets reported back to me. It is not always the person that you think will have a bad record who turns out to be your greatest risk.”


--Mark Borst Borst Landscaping


the wheel Another key area covered in manuals, tailgate talks, and one- on-one training ses- sions is safety behind the wheel. One bad truck-and-trailer acci- dent can ruin a whole day. For a company


like ValleyCrest, with 4,100 trucks on the road, pulling more than 2,200 trailers, vehicular safety is paramount.


Tere are many things a landscape contrac- tor can do to reduce the risk of on-the-road accidents. First of all, check the driving record of any em- ployee who will ever


be behind the wheel. Mark Borst, president of the 75-person firm of Borst Landscaping in Allendale, New Jersey, gets his insurer to do a “vehicle abstract” on all employees, whether he expects them to be drivers or not.


“Te vehicle abstract tells me what tickets they’ve gotten, including whether they’ve ever been cited for driving under the influence. I have to tell you,” Borst confides, “that I’ve been surprised by some of what gets reported back to me. It is not always the person that you think will have a bad record who turns out to be your greatest risk.”


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In addition, many companies won’t let a par- ticular driver behind the wheel until and unless he’s been accompanied in the passenger seat by a supervisor or crew chief.


“They call me ‘the nut’,” he recounts, “because I’m out there with my iPhone, taking pictures of things I don’t like and emailing them to my crew chiefs right then and there. But I’ll tell you, it works.”


“My company uses a very common-sense ap- proach. I’m not big on sitting my guys down in a classroom,” says Borst, who takes a hands-on ap- proach to safety training. “I am big on having my crew chiefs constantly teaching common sense, and never letting routine get in the way of safety awareness.”


Even as Borst has his crew chiefs conduct tailgate safety talks every other week, there are still what he calls ‘dumb’ injuries. Like the guy who leans against a garage door and slices his finger open on a sliver of metal, or a member of a mowing crew who jumps off the back of a pickup truck and twists an ankle. Tese injuries could be pre- vented with just a little more care.


Industry veteran Jerry White, managing partner of a division of ND Landscape called Grassmas- ter Plus, based in Georgetown, Massachusetts, does upwards of $7 million in annual sales, and has 70 employees. He says, “With about 60 percent of our work in design/build, and about 40 percent in maintenance, there are all sorts of safety concerns.”


White came to the business as a golf course superintendent. While that’s no longer his work focus, he has a special sensitivity to safety issues involving chemicals, fertilizers, and mowers.


“I’m adamant about how undiluted chemicals are mixed with water for application,” White declares. “I want suits, gloves, goggles, and no spillage. I want the same precautions with


Staying ahead of issues Like Fitzpatrick, safety is job number one for Borst, whose favorite safety-reinforcement device is his iPhone camera. Borst is the first per- son to arrive at his staging yard in the morning, and for the first 15 or 20 minutes he walks the yard, taking photographs.


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