October 15, 2011
By Jeff Gregg
Growers’ Sector Group

In the coming months, promotional material specifically aimed at growers will be available for a newly developed safety training seminar.

Over the past year, through the joint efforts of your growers’ sector group, Landscape Ontario and the people at WSPS, a project has evolved that will establish a health and safety program for nurseries. This program should meet the needs of growers, as they themselves put it in place.

At the outset we faced a degree of skepticism. We all have participated in similar training and education, so why would it really be worthwhile to go down that road again? The general reaction was that the process of implementing comprehensive workplace safety policies was time consuming and burdensome. It required company resources, namely the time of key people who were already taxed with keeping our businesses flourishing in difficult times. With the present economic environment, the idea of training and education did not set off any celebration bells within the industry.  

So, our focus was to give the growers specific tools and resources that can eliminate the generalities and streamline the process. Although we may have had unrealistic visions of a turnkey plan, by keeping the goal clear, with straightforward instructions.

Effective tool

One of the key themes that I was able to bring away from this process was one of “safe practices as an effective management tool.” In the past, workplace health and safety existed as a separate entity that we would address begrudgingly, when time allowed. The truth is that health and safety is completely interwoven in all operations. By developing safe practices, we are actually developing efficiencies as well as satisfying our responsibilities to our workers.

We are perpetually faced with decisions regarding time priorities. We apply our time where it will benefit our companies the most. It’s an important factor in training programs. This latest seminar designed by growers, for growers, prepares for the specific demands of building and implementing policies and actions. It provides a roadmap to your goal and will continue to build and provide support in the future.

In the growers’ group, we never really know what type of task or project we might be faced with each day. When presented with the challenge of developing a program for safety training in nurseries, we had little idea where that would lead. We took on the challenge for the chance to learn from some exceptional people in the industry who really listened to us and worked to give us solutions.

In addition to the growers, who gave so much of their time to work on this project, the real professionals at Landscape Ontario and WSPS deserve our gratitude for providing knowledge, experience and passion.

This training will be available in the coming months. It is a specific and practical solution to a real and pressing need. You will have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and how to go about meeting them. Your role now is to attend the workshop and to offer feedback so that it can continue to grow and develop into the future.

To find out about the seminars go to the growers’ sector group page on www.horttrades.com. Starting in January, 2012, seminars are planned in Durham, London and Ottawa.
Jeff Gregg is a manager at V. Kraus Nurseries. His email address is jandkgregg@rogers.com.