I would like to look at the Health & Safety problem from a different point of view - the MANAGEMENT of HEALTH & SAFETY
Risk Management conjures up in one's mind pictures of doom - of tragedy
- of living at the edge.
However, risk assessment is nothing new. In everything we do we risk assess - crossing the road, we assess our ability to cross, the speed of the traffic, etc. We have learned to judge our speed of crossing, learned to judge the speed of the traffic and learned to judge a host of minor factors which alter depending on the circumstances.. We are able to do this from Training and Experience.
Your work as a greenkeeper is based on the same learning principles. A
balance of training and experience.
This is what I'd like to consider - Management Training
Learning wholly by experience is a painful approach. Nowadays an
apprentice learns from attending College and, back at the workplace, being
instructed by a craftsman - this allows him to have a shorter learning curve
and for experience to be less painful.However, for the more mature members of
our profession, opportunities for qualifications did not come along when they
were at the apprentice age. These groundsmen can still gain qualifications.
There are basically four ways for them to achieve qualifications:
Go back to College with the apprentices e.g. Block Release for
3-6 weeks in the year for two years.
APL - Accreditation of Prior Learning allows the older
greenkeeper to be acknowledged for the experience he has achieved, identify and
rectify any gaps in knowledge he may have, and give him a professional
qualification. Many older greenkeepers are taking advantage of this and gaining
a professional qualification.
Distance Learning allows the groundsman to learn at home in his
own time and attending College for only 1 week per year. This is very popular
with those at the supervisory level. Many older greenkeepers and a lot of
ambitious younger members of our profession are taking advantage of this way of
Short Courses are offered by many colleges and Training Groups ranging
from 1 to 5 days on a particular subject e.g. ATB Pesticide Update Courses.
These, however, are not an end in themselves but only building blocks.
Many professions have now embraced - CPD - Continuing Professional Development.
This means that it is desirable/ necessary to attend update courses
every year, perhaps 5 to 8 days per year. These could be short courses in weed
control/ mowers/ health & safety/ turf management but could also be
attending the IOG Conference. Attending these is not just a 'good idea' but
should be a basic part of the Greenkeeper's job. The Annual Conference of
BIGGA, far from being looked on as a beano, should be seen for what it is, an
essential part of the development for the continuing and future effectiveness
of a professional groundsman.
Employers will have to be told/ encouraged/ cajoled to realise that
quality management of Sports Turf does not come about by chance and the
investment in management training will give the improved playing surface so
essential to viability of the modern sports surface.
What has this to do with Health & Safety? A trained operator is a
safer operator - a trained manager will provide a safer work environment This
has been proven on many occasions.
I would like you to consider the difference between VALUES AND
VALUES are things that must be done - there is no choice.
PRIORITY implies that there can be time-schedule slippage or
indeed that cancellation could be an option.
When you get up out of bed late - you must wash, shave, dress, have
breakfast, read the paper, kiss your spouse, get in the car, drive to work.
Which of these are VALUES and which PRIORITIES?
Dress, kiss your spouse, get in car, drive to work, are VALUES, - THESE
MUST BE DONE
Wash, shave, have breakfast, read the paper are PRIORITIES, which CAN BE
DONE, CAN BE DELAYED or can even BE CANCELLED - depending on their importance
HEALTH & SAFETY IS A VALUE NOT A PRIORITY - the safety of
your staff and yourself must not be compromised at any time.
TRAINING OF MANAGEMENT IS A VALUE NOT A PRIORITY. Sadly, most
employers do not agree.
Anyone who cuts grass thinks he is a greenkeeper , but we know that good husbandry of Sports Turf is as difficult a job as any profession and only with the proper professional approach will we be able to produce what our customer needs - a good playing surface for the maximum playing time per year - and provide it whilst still looking after the safety of the operator, other employees, the general public and the environment.