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Do You Have A Plan?
Someone once said that failure to plan is planning to fail. I’m not sure who said it, but it’s one of those things that can really ring true sometimes. In these columns, my colleagues and I often talk about safety or environmental regulations, and sometimes labor law. This month, let’s talk about planning.

It can be a bit slow around the gin at this time of the year, particularly in years where we’ve had a relatively short crop and are moving into what looks like a shorter one. Ginners may be reluctant to spend money on big projects, so they fix what is broken and maybe slap on some paint to go another year.

However, this is the perfect time to get all those plans and programs together that we’ve been nagging you about. It’s also a good time to think about planning for the unexpected. We’re pretty good at telling you how to handle the expected stuff, but you need to think about the unexpected situations that can pop up.

One Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that gets overlooked a lot is the Emergency Action Plan. We don’t often think about it because I can’t remember the last time it was cited, but everyone should have one. OK. End of article, right? Not quite. This isn’t just about an evacuation EAP, per se. For example, do you have a plan if you have a really bad accident? Do you have a plan to handle media if your module truck hits a school bus? Do you have a plan for succession if key management passes away? These are just some of the things you can start considering at this time of year.

Let’s talk a little bit about one that catches up with us in the South more than it does gins in the West. I am referring to severe weather. I guess I think about this a bit more than many other people because I’m a National Weather Service spotter. Before dangerous weather actually hits, ask yourself these questions.

Do you have a plan for severe weather?
Do you have a weather radio?
Where’s the safest place to go?
Do you and your employees know the safest place to go?

These are just a few considerations that should be addressed when developing a severe weather plan.

Another important item is your succession plan. Think about it. What would you do if your key management or ownership passed away? Do you have a way to get to his or her accounts? What about passwords to important software or websites that you use? We need to plan for these kinds of things.

As an example, Mom and Dad had a safe deposit box at the bank. Mom set it up years ago but never put Dad on the signature card. Their wills were in that bank box. It took weeks for the bank to let my dad into the box to retrieve Mom’s will so the estate could go to probate. She wasn’t trying to keep Dad out of the box, she just never planned for the one who had access to the box to be the one that passed away first. It’s time to anticipate the unexpected.
You and your staff also should have media training. That camera can be intimidating. If you have a major accident at the gin or away from the gin, reporters (bloggers and traditional journalists) are increasingly on the scene rapidly.

Do you have a plan to handle it?
Is there one point-person to speak to the media?
Has that person had training on what not to say?
Does everyone else there know who that person is and how to handle a pushy reporter?

It would be a good idea to plan for this type of situation.

Very soon, we will get busy with meetings and ginning and will forget about setting up these plans. We won’t have time even if we’re reminded. I strongly encourage you to take time now before the next meeting and ginning seasons begin and make plans that will cover all types of emergencies that can happen when you least expect it.

Dusty Findley of the Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association contributed this article. Contact him at 706-344-1212 or dusty@southern-southeastern.org.