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Take Time To Relay Offseason Safety Message

module feeder

Emphasize safety to workers or anyone else who may have occasion to walk around in the ‘dark cave’ that is the module feeder.

As ginners, we typically focus our attention on the gin season. We have seasonal labor that may be new or returning. We must train them and get them oriented to working long hours and around equipment they aren’t familiar with. As far as safety is concerned, it helps to assume they don’t know anything and start with fresh training for everyone…returning or new.

We show videos, do verbal instruction and on-the-job training. We document everything and have regular safety meetings. But now the season’s over, and it’s time to relax … or is it?

Unfortunately, we were recently reminded that accidents happen throughout the year, not just in ginning season. We can’t take our eye off the ball for a second. We do a lot of non-routine tasks in the offseason.

This provides an opportunity for the unexpected to show up. If you’ve ever worked in a gin, Murphy’s law applies. It states that if anything can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment. Safety may need more attention in the offseason than during the ginning season.

Develop A Safety Mindset

Working at elevated heights, moving equipment, pulling shafts and bearings, and all the other things we do during the repair time of year don’t normally have set procedures. This means we need to look at how we view safety with our year-round employees a bit differently than the seasonal folks.

Our seasonal employee-oriented safety efforts often revolve around the particular job someone does day in and day out. There is a lot of emphasis on guarding and controlling energy because those are the things protecting workers from most of the hazards during gin season.

Our year-round employees need to hear a safety message regularly in the offseason as well. The jobs that are done during repair really need a safety mindset. The people we have doing repair around the gin or installing equipment or updating machines all need to be able to size up a situation, figure out what could bite them and work to prevent those things from getting them.

How To Avoid OffSeason Accidents

Very few years go by that we don’t have a serious accident in the offseason. A few years ago, it was moving a fan scroll that rolled over killing the employee. Recently, a fall during blow down resulted in serious head injuries. We’ve had smashed hands and fingers, electric shocks, and various slips and trips, all resulting in people going to the hospital over the years.

Most offseason injuries seem to deal with moving heavy pieces of equipment by gantry or crane or hoists. Injuries can also result from falling from catwalks or while installing machines. Determine how employees potentially can get hurt and what you can do to help them avoid an injury.

Whether you’re a gin owner, manager or ginner, teach your workers to look at the tasks they perform with safety in mind. Can you hold a training on using hoists? Can you train your guys on working better at elevation? Can you remind them to employ lock-out on the machines they are working on? I bet there’s a way.

Simple safety meetings are a start. Providing instruction on some of these topics can help create a safety mindset in your employees. When they are preparing for a job, teach them to consider not only how they are going to get a task completed but also how to get it done safely.

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

2021 CCGGA Annual Meeting Announced

The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association’s 2021 Annual Meeting will be held live Wednesday, May 12, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California. Registration and a continental breakfast start at 7:30 a.m. The program begins with concurrent breakout sessions at 8:30 a.m. and ends with lunch.

The ginners’ breakout session, moderated by CCGGA’s Christopher McGlothlin, will be held in the upstairs conference dining room. Here are the topics:

• National Cotton Ginners Association report, Curtis Stewart, NCGA president.

• U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service gin lab update, Derek Whitelock, USDA ARS.

• Air district incentives, Aaron Tarango, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

The growers’ breakout session, moderated by CCGGA’s Priscilla Rodriguez, will take place in the banquet hall. Here are the topics:

• Air district incentives, Aaron Tarango, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

• Variety report and Fusarium update, Dr. Bob Hutmacher, University of California Cooperative Extension.

• Crop protection chemical update, Renee Pinal, Western Plant Health Association.

Dan Walters, a columnist for CalMatters, is the luncheon speaker. According to its website, CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics.

You must register to attend. For registration details, visit https://bit.ly/3dkvuxX or call 559-252-0684.