Training and drills
Bauer says Star of the West Milling relies on a combination of handouts, fliers, staff meetings and one-on-one discussions with employees to carry out its effective safety program.
“We conduct scheduled hourly sessions using videos and demonstrations as well as special impromptu sessions called ‘Toolbox Talks’,” says Bauer. “Informal training is critical also. If someone brings up a good topic during a session and we want to review it the next day, we’ll gather by the time clock and discuss it. There are opportunities for training everywhere and at any time.”
State and regional conferences are another form of training Bauer endorses. Many Star of the West Milling employees attend conferences to receive continuing education credits for grain industry safety.
Putting training into practice with drills is the final critical component of emergency preparedness. According to SATRA’s Lovell, company policy should require a facility to incorporate monthly, semiannual and annual proficiency evaluations of their emergency action plan.
“They should be rehearsed time and time again to where they become second nature,” says Lovell. “Conducting a drill every six months will not produce effective results.”
He notes it is important to focus on the type of drill — e.g., fire, explosion, entrapment, hazardous substance release, tornado, rescue from heights and confined spaces, etc. — because each has the same main components along with individual intricacies.
“Every type of drill must include a component where everybody reports to the main office for a head count and establish who’s missing,” says Lovell. “Then, working in pairs, begin to search for unaccounted individuals and notify the first response team if necessary.”
First responders should attend drills on at least a semiannual basis, to ensure their familiarity with your facility and establish a good working relationship.
“One of the best things you can do is become acquainted with the local fire department,” says Lovell. “If you have an established program and the fire department is well aware of it, they’ll know where the designated meeting place is and who to contact to relay the situation. The more they know about the facility ahead of time, the more controlled the outcome will be.”
An effective safety program includes more than OSHA’s Grain Handling Standard 1910.272. Experts suggest developing an expansive set of written policies to address potential facility hazards and foster a culture of safety. Training and drills are crucial to perpetuating an accident-prevention mentality throughout your workforce, while establishing a relationship with first responders has multiple benefits in cases where an emergency could not be prevented.