Scary Things Happen When You Don’t Put Safety First
We’re not talking goblins or ghosts, but when you put your most important asset and biggest resource—namely your turf and your crew—at risk, scary things can happen. So beware and protect your course, your club and your people by steering clear of these common safety blunders.
Poor Equipment Maintenance
Preventative and regular equipment maintenance is paramount when it comes to safety. Put it on the schedule and use off-season downtime to do an annual equipment review. Be on top of the details. For example, make sure your mower adjustments are in synch with your turf’s needs. An out-of-whack mower not only causes damage to the machine, it could also be fatal to turf.
In addition, check that protective shrouds or shields are in place and ensure equipment is properly treaded and not worn down. Sliding on slopes often happens, particularly on wet turf, and accidents like this can hurt your turf and your crew.
The good news is that most all equipment manufacturers provide and regularly update maintenance guides. You can also find extensive safety information on equipment maintenance and more on the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association’s (GCSAA) site. Take advantage of these resources and build regular and end-of-season maintenance into your agenda.
Sub-Par Training and Communication
Good safety means going beyond the simple how-to when it comes to training. Your crew should be fully knowledgeable about when and where use of equipment is appropriate. Go over a map of your course with all crew members, point out and explain what equipment is rated for which areas and in what conditions. Make this map and this information easily accessible and you’ll ensure the wellbeing of your equipment and your crew.
Lack of Protective Gear
Golf is a game with projectiles, specifically golf balls, yet it’s common to see maintenance crews on the course without hard hats. When your crew is in any area of the course when play is in process, make sure they are wearing protective headgear. Other commonly overlooked safety measures include providing workers with noise protection, sun protection or safety glasses. While obvious, these simple steps are often skipped and the adverse effects can range from immediate to long term.
Unawareness About Workers’ Limitations
Course maintenance is a physical job inherent with hidden risks. Know what your crew can and cannot reasonably do. Your course may have water features, like lakes or ponds. Find out if all your crewmembers can swim. Check to see if any crewmembers have back issues and if lifting presents a problem. Ask about any potential health issues you should know about. Cases have occurred where crewmembers have suffered seizures on the job or slipped into ponds or lakes and not known how to swim. Keep safety at the forefront of every decision and whenever crewmembers are sent out on the course to perform potentially hazardous, and even seemingly harmless, tasks.
The Upshot: Create a Culture that Promotes Safety
Avoiding the common safety pitfalls above will only help you so much. To create a safe environment that protects both your turf and your crewmembers, you need to build a culture that promotes and rewards safety. That means providing ongoing communications and training on best practices for safety, posting clear safety information that all crewmembers, regardless of their native language, can understand and rewarding crewmembers who regularly adhere to safety standards. Offer incentives, give prizes—do what you can to let your crew know that you appreciate their compliance with safety standards.
In short, you need to create and promote a culture that values safety for the sake of the individual, your club and course — and for the team at large. Let your crew know it’s everyone’s responsibility to look out for each other not just because it’s the smart thing to do from a cost/risk point of view, but because yours is a club that cares about people, from the players who count on excellent playing conditions to all who work to make sure that happens.