Our Industry never stops working, even when the sun is blazing and temperatures are soaring. But, with heat becoming more intense and frequent, it’s crucial to ensure the safety of our crews during the summer months. Here’s a condensed guide of focal points for your Green Industry business, learned from more than two decades of experience.
Preparation Is Key
Before your crews even set foot on the job site, it’s essential to have a pre-shift meeting. This isn’t just a simple pep talk, it’s a way to ensure everyone is aware of the risks they’ll be facing while working in extreme heat. During the meeting, share stories or examples of heat-related incidents and how they were handled. Regularly check in to make sure your crews know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Crews need to do their part during these important meetings. There’s no better learning tool than sharing knowledge between colleagues. If you’ve had a bad experience, or know some tips for beating the heat, share them with your team during these meetings. Never forget that you’re all in this together.
Gear Up And Hydrate
It’s critical to provide your crews with the proper equipment. Light-colored, moisture-wicking shirts and wide-brimmed hats, for example, help prevent negative outcomes while working in extreme heat. Additionally, make sure to set up hydration stations with cold water jugs and electrolyte packets in a convenient location at the site, and encourage your crews to drink water every 30 minutes. At these stations, provide your crews with SPF 50, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant sunscreen.
Gear is only useful if it’s used, so make sure you and the rest of your crew are gearing up before you start the day. Put on that sunscreen, wear your hat, and hydrate. Keep a water bottle with you and make good use of those hydration stations. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water.
Schedule Smart And Identify Cool-Down Zones
Properly scheduling on-site tasks can prevent unsafe exposure to the heat and keep your team safe. Make sure you’re assigning heavy-duty, labor-intensive tasks during the early morning hours or later in the afternoon. While the sun is at its peak, assign less labor-intensive tasks or jobs that can be done in shaded areas of the site. Identify and set aside shaded areas with chairs and even fans as a space for the crew to cool down. Going above and beyond with wet towel stations for neck wraps can also be a game-changer.
As a crew member, it’s critical to pace yourself. Don’t be a hero and take on tasks meant for two people on your own, or try to take on labor-intensive work at noon. Utilize cool-down zones during your breaks, don’t skip those breaks, and always be monitoring your heat levels throughout the day.
Clearly Communicate & Provide Incentives
Make sure you have a culture that fosters open communication and encourages your crew members to speak up if they feel unwell. Beyond that, utilize a buddy system so crew members are looking out for each other throughout the day. Extra incentives, like an ice cream run or cold beverage at the end of the day, are also an excellent way to make sure safety is always at the forefront.
Always keep an eye on your colleagues. If a co-worker is showing signs of heat exhaustion, speak up and encourage them to immediately address their symptoms.
Safety is a collective responsibility, regardless of your position at the business. As a manager, you need to provide the right tools and a safety-conscious environment, while employees need to prioritize making good use of them. The Green Industry is about so much more than cultivating landscapes, it’s about growing a community that values safety as much as it values hard work. Let’s take care of each other and continue to thrive, even under the scorching sun.
Bradley is CEO of Landscape Management Network, a leading B2B landscape business management software company. Among other services, LMN offers Greenius, an online training software for the Green Industry. A recent survey of LMN customers found that 70% identified training as a top priority for their employees in the coming years.