It’s critical that landscape business owners and managers foster a culture of safety in their everyday operations. NALP offers a vastly underutilized resource that members have at their disposal—a safety advisor. In fact, last year, only about 20 inquiries were posed to Sam Steel, PhD, an expert available exclusively to NALP members. But Steel is available to those who have questions or require guidance when it comes to any health or safety topic.
In addition to owning and operating a landscape business for a decade, Steel has spent more than 30 years developing, delivering and evaluating agricultural industry safety and healthy programs.
We asked Steel some important questions about this benefit and what NALP members might want to know about his guidance.
Can you explain what you offer as safety advisor to NALP members?
By working through NALP via this link, members have access to ask me any questions they have regarding health and safety issues. After calling or emailing Amy, those questions get sent to me and my goal is always to follow up ASAP—usually the same day. Most often I call the member and provide an email follow-up with the points we discussed.
Sometimes, I do make visits to businesses to consult about safety. I personally like staying on top of what’s going on in the field, and site visits allow me to do that.
What are some of the most common questions you receive as safety advisor?
A lot of the questions have to do with OSHA inspections. OSHA targets our industry because we have a higher than average injury rate compared to other industries. That means OSHA targets us for inspections in order to determine where the industry stands. They’re looking to see what hazards workers are being exposed to and whether they’re being addressed.
If OSHA is performing an inspection, one of the first things they ask is to see your written health and safety program, so a big question that I get is “What is the written safety and health program that OSHA requires?” The fact is, you need to have written policy for everything—cell phone use, personal protection equipment usage, machine use, etc. You need to be able to demonstrate your policies and how you are enforcing them. I can help walk members through the creation of those policies.
In addition to my help, the 10-Hour OSHA Construction Safety Course for the Landscape Industry is one of the best ways to educate yourself on these concerns. I am one of the certified trainers that teaches this course.
How do your safety advisor services help NALP members?
The best way to measure success is through your insurance claims history. You want to reduce the number and severity of incidents that your claim history includes. The goal is always to eliminate the most serious hazards at your business.
That brings up an important point. I always talk to members about making sure they are keeping track of close calls. A close call or two, back-to-back, may be the next serious injury or even fatality that could occur at your business. For tree care firms in particular, this is a huge deal. Their accidents—such as falls—tend to be really serious. If you’ve had a close call incident, it’s really important to get a handle on exactly what happened. Get some written policies down and perform some training. Those close-call incidents are red flags that need to be taken seriously. The next time it might not be a close call but an actual accident.
How can NALP members reach you?
The best way to connect with me is through NALP’s member advisors page here. This allows NALP to keep track of the types of questions we receive most frequently, as well as how many members use this free member benefit.