Ensure your operation is ready to manage the demands of the new season.

That brief lull between fall frenzy and spring craziness, otherwise known as winter, is traditionally a time to catch up on all those things that don’t get done while everyone is working 24/7 to get product to field.

At the top of the list for many agri-retailers is safety – making sure certifications, training and equipment are up-to-date and working in peak form. When the phone is ringing off the hook and trucks are backed up half a dozen deep is no time to be shutting down for safety training, that is the time to be working safe.

Plan Ahead

Paul Dupasquier, a territory manager with MacMor Industries Ltd., has one key piece of advice for agri-retailers to get their yards in safe-shape for the coming year.

“A common issue we see agri-retailers face is that they’re just not preparing early enough,” he says. “We recommend you start preparing in February to give yourself at least two months to get ready before the spring season starts.”

There is lots to prepare for during those two months, but Dupasquier stresses the importance of slowing down and making sure safety comes first.

“Because harvest went so long in the fall, the spring could be quite rushed,” Dupasquier says. “There will be more work to do in less time. Start early so safety isn’t overlooked.”

Dupasquier says that preparing well ahead of time may also help your bottom line.

“There are a lot of manufacturers out there who offer training programs for their equipment at little or no cost, but it does take some time to get these programs approved,” he says. “But if you plan ahead, you can take advantage of these kinds of deals and save money.”

Take Inventory

Knowing what your inventory of safety equipment is, and what shape it is in, is essential.

“If you don’t have it, you can’t use it. Having the safety supplies readily available for your employees to use is key,” says Dupasquier. “Make sure you go through your personal protective equipment inventory. Do a thorough inspection of all equipment you have on hand. That includes your respirators, suits and gloves.”

Dupasquier emphasizes the benefits of going through your emergency response products, level A suits, self-contained breathing appartus' and reviewing chemical spill control measures. “Make sure those things are all on hand and ready for deployment in case of an emergency,” he says.

By giving yourself enough time to get ready, Dupasquier says that you will have time to inspect products, and it will allow enough time for ordered products to arrive on time.

“A big perk at MacMor is we’re a one-stop-shop for CAAR members. They have access to all the products in our distribution network at member pricing,” says Dupasquier. MacMor is a member of the CAAR Perk$ program, offering members access to their products at reduced pricing.

Know Your Equipment

The final piece of spring preparation is making sure all employees are up-to-date on their training and know how to use the equipment properly, both to stay safe or to address an emergency.

“It’s extremely important your staff are fully trained to use safety equipment properly. Accidents can happen to anyone, and if you’re not wearing or using your equipment properly, an accident could cause serious injury to that person,” says Dupasquier.

The handling of chemicals presents one of the greatest dangers in the yard, and all staff need to know how to take the proper precautions.

“Anhydrous ammonia burns are quite serious, and effects are present right away. It’s a very dangerous chemical,” he says. “When you’re dealing with other chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, you may not feel the effects right away,” he says. “But, they can creep up on you over time and can cause significant harm in the long run.”

CAAR offers multiple safety training courses that will prepare you and your employees to safely handle potentially hazardous situations. Visit caar.org to sign up for training on anhydrous ammonia TDG, NTSP and WHMIS. All of CAAR’s training is conveniently available online, and many of the courses offered also have the option for course participants to receive training in person.

By starting spring preparations early, doing a thorough inventory of safety equipment and ensuring staff training is up to date, retailers can go into spring with sound peace of mind knowing they’re prepared for the unexpected, and ready to make the new season successful.

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