Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brain Drain: More Management Oversight Required for Shiftwork Safety

According to this EHS article, recent studies suggest that irregular or longer-than-normal shift hours have a negative impact on cognitive abilities and can cause the brain to age an extra 6.5 years!

Can working longer shifts or rotating shifts age your brain? A recent study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, "Chronic Effects of Shift Work on Cognition:Findings from the VISAT Longitudinal Study," examined the “chronicity and reversibility” of the effects of shiftwork on cognition. Researchers found that irregular shiftwork can result in cognitive impairment equal to 6.5 years of aging for a worker’s brain.

While cognitive loss is a focal point of the study, as a safety professional, I see the research as an opportunity to discuss and highlight the immediate safety issues related to workers and society associated with shiftwork. On an industry-wide level, managers need­­ to take steps to understand the effects of shiftwork on their employees and actively oversee their scheduling and culture in order to recognize the unique safety issues that could disrupt a company’s efficiency, safety and overall health.

Sleep Patterns and Safety
Work hours generally are separated into first, second and third shift, with the third shift spanning the late night through early morning times. Some shiftwork takes place in an industrial environment, where employees are working with equipment

To view the full article and read more, click here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 State of the Industry Report: All’s Well That Ends Well

Though the spring of 2014 was basically nonexistent and many feared the worst for retailers in the landscaping business, this State of the Industry Survey, located in this GardenCenter article, reported that 72 percent of stores experiencing increased sales in 2014.
Garden Center Magazine, 2014

Record cold temperatures. Severe snow and rainstorms. A delayed start to the season for much of the country. Things weren’t shaping up for many retailers quite as they would’ve liked them to earlier this year. However, by the time summer was through, our research painted a different picture. More than 540 retailers weighed in on our State of the Industry Survey, and the season ended well for most, with 72 percent of stores experiencing increased sales in 2014.

When it came to what was selling and what wasn’t, there were a few notable departures from last year’s results. Tree and shrub sales showed marginal increases despite a flat housing market, a phenomenon we can attribute at least in part to the harsh winter weather that destroyed many well-established trees and shrubs, even in southern locales. Perennials also made a strong showing this year, with 68 percent of retailers reporting an increase in sales, in contrast to 51 percent in 2013.

As we attended trade shows, visited garden centers and chatted with others in the industry, the vibe has been more positive than in year’s past, with hope for the future. Over the following pages, you can take a look at how your peers did this year, compare that with how your business fared and keep it in mind as you plan for next year. Managing editor Michelle Simakis and I share our commentary throughout the section.

Survey says...

To read the full article and view survey results, follow this link.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Using Collaboration to Shore Up the Sustainable Supply Chain

According to this MH&L article, attitudes are changing and more end-use byers are willing to pay more for a sustainable product. How can you get on board?
Chris Potter, Flickr.

While manufacturers were early adopters of a sustainable supply chain due to their desire to switch from plastics to biodegradables, reduce packaging and pursue recycling, the end user was not always aware of these efforts.

The “relationships” between manufacturers and their supply chain were not important to the end user, writes Kate Ancell, in an article on

“The customer didn’t care,” said Robert Schwartz, National Performance Improvement Leader at Grant Thornton. “It was about being on time, with good quality, and coming in on budget.”
However that attitude is changing as more end-use buyers are willing to pay more for a sustainable product, according to Schwartz. This leads to a need for a closer collaboration between suppliers and manufacturers.

“Collaboration between manufacturers and their suppliers is imperative for competition,” says Schwartz. With better, more sophisticated technology,..."

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

AEM, Future Farmers Promote Safe Use of Agricultural Equipment

The proper use of agricultural equipment is a vital factor in keeping employees safe. The AEM and the FFA have joined forces to bring about a new awareness program to help in these efforts. This ISHN article details the process.
ISHN, Farmers Promoting Safety

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is partnering with the Future Farmers of America (National FFA) to promote the safe use of agricultural equipment through a new awareness program – “Tune into Safety.”

A large majority of FFA members, many of whom are directly involved in using agricultural equipment, are enrolled in safety training as part of their education.

The program will award points and shared sales revenue to FFA chapters for including AEM safety manuals in their members’ safety training. It will also provide individual members the opportunity to increase their annual fund-raising efforts by selling the manuals in their communities while communicating the importance of farm equipment safety to their peers.

Program Encourages ROPS, Seatbelt Use
Jaime Vos, AEM safety materials manager, stated: “We’re hoping FFA members take the opportunity to share their personal experiences through social media, express their views about safety when using farm equipment, and communicate the importance of using best safety practices to their peers and community.”

Click here to read the full article.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10 Steps to Reduce On-the-Job Hand Injuries Today

“Safety culture” is a popular buzz phrase going around. But developing a safety culture takes time. This Zero Excuses article details 10 quick-win safety strategies to start reducing on-the-job injuries today.

If you’ve read a lot about workplace safety culture lately, you’re not alone. It’s a popular topic and a critical component of any workplace safety program.
Creating a culture of workplace safety is a long-term strategy to reduce workplace injuries. And I’d most certainly encourage you to work toward one at your company. But there are also ways to get “quick wins” in safety. In this article we’ll cover 10 quick wins for hand safety in the workplace.

1. Create policies.
You may think this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many safety leaders overlook this critical step. You want your employees to be safe? Be clear about the steps they need to take every day in order to do so. For hand safety, policies should include when gloves are to be worn, how to perform certain high-risk tasks, how to care for personal protective equipment (PPE) at the end of the day, etc.
And don’t just tell employees about procedures: write them down; demonstrate them; test your employees’ knowledge of them. Before you can implement any of the other nine quick wins in this article, you must first have established safety policies and procedures, and your employees must be aware of them.

2. Offer safety training.
Safety training is the ultimate quick win. It brings safety back into focus for your employees and demonstrates your commitment to employee safety, as a leader and as a company.
A recent article I read discussed tips for making safety training more engaging—and therefore more memorable—with some unexpected techniques including humor, self-disclosure, and storytelling. Read more on how to make your safety training more engaging here.

3. Keep safety top-of-mind.

Click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don’t Fear The Winter Season

While warmer months bring prosperity to outdoor work, the colder months are generally slower. This article by Total Landscape Care provides a few tips for companies to bring employee's spirits out of their winter slumps. 

Total Landscape Care
Winter can be a tough time for many landscapers. Your entire season could depend on how much snow falls or if rain will wash out a day of productivity.

Winter is seen as a necessary evil for many landscaping businesses.

Between balancing seasonal employees, making sure you land in the black and basing your entire business around the weather is extremely difficult.

During the summer and spring, the grass will always grow and flowers will always need to be planted. However, winter means three, four, five or even six months of uncertainty.

Add Holiday Lighting
Adding extra services to your offerings can be a great way to get your company through some slow times. If the snow is not cooperating, or if you live in an area that doesn’t receive snow, adding a service like holiday lighting can be a great way to add some extra cash. However, don’t take holiday lighting lightly. It’s a hefty service, and you should be sure that you have the manpower and availability to offer extra services.

Continue reading this article here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Got Leaves? Put 'Em to Work

Getting your garden ready for the spring starts in the fall. This Mother Earth News article teaches you everything you need to know about the uses of leaves and how to winterize your plants.

autumn leaves bp
Mother Earth News
'Tis the season for harvesting leaves, the most abundant free source of organic matter available to most gardeners. Microorganisms in soil and compost transform leaves into bits of organic matter, which helps the soil retain nutrients and moisture. By themselves, leaves contain small amounts of 16 plant nutrients.

You can stockpile leaves in a bin or pen to use later as compost or mulch, but you don't have to wait until leaves decompose to put them to work. With some shredding assistance from your lawn mower, you can give your leaves useful jobs right now.

1. Turn lawn into garden. Prepare sections of lawn you want to develop into garden beds by smothering them with leaves. First scalp the grass by mowing as close to the surface as possible. Then cover the space with several thicknesses of newspaper or cardboard, and cover the base layer with two inches (or more) or compost or manure. Top with 3 to 4 inches of shredded leaves.

2. Winterize hardy vegetables. Use shredded leaves to limit winter injury to kale, leeks, carrots and other hardy vegetables. Surround the planting with a low fence or burlap enclosure and fill it with up to 12 inches of shredded leaves. Mulch garlic and perennial onions with up to 6 inches of shredded leaves mixed with the season's last grass clippings.

Continue reading this article here.