Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Spotlight – April 2020

Mark McGrady currently owns Colorscapes Supply Company selling quality soils and fertilizers to landscapers, growers, and farmers across the state of South Carolina. After managing a local garden center and nursery for almost twenty years, he has seen the ins and outs of many green industry operations.

How did you hear about Clemson’s Agricultural Safety program and why do you think it is important?
MM: I have a daughter in the Ag program at Clemson and she told me about it. I feel that it is important to intervene with young people as they enter the agricultural workforce. It is easier to start good habits while someone is young rather than trying to reteach someone when they are older. The safe and proper way to do things should be second nature instead of something they have to stop and think about.

Why is safety advocacy important?
MM: It is important to do as much as you can to protect yourself because there are lots of other people in this world that won’t make the effort to protect themselves let alone anyone else. I interact with a lot of landscapers and help my wife run her niche landscaping operation. The biggest threat I see in the landscaping industry that I believe is vastly overlooked, is many people don’t take the time to strap their equipment down on their trailers. It’s not as if the equipment is going to blow away because it isn’t heavy enough to ride on the trailer deck, it’s the fact that these items become projectiles if they were to become involved in an accident. Seat belts go on people and tie-down straps go on the equipment.

What prevents farmers and others from being as safe as possible?
MM: I honestly think it is time and deadlines. We are always chasing that next dollar and trying to get the next task done. They keep saying time is money but people really ought to slow down and look at some of the consequences of their actions. Being a little behind on a task list is much cheaper than being fined by an insurance company or the cost of a life.

Why should safety be of utmost importance?
MM: Safety precautions and warnings are often glanced over because people become familiar and comfortable with actions that seem harmless. I’ve moved plenty of pallets of fertilizer in my life and the one time I chose not to wear [safety] glasses I got a chemical burn to the eye. A phosphate burn to the cornea isn’t how you would want to lose your eyesight when it was easily preventable. Luckily my sight returned after a few months but there are plenty of incidents with outcomes not near as lucky as mine.

What do you think can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
MM: I think that the more it is talked about on a daily basis, the more that it will be relevant. The more comfortable it is to talk about a subject then the less it seems like a lecture or just a bunch of rules that are supposed to be followed. These precautions are set with the operator in mind, not to just make things difficult. If practiced regularly things become a habit.

Submitted by Mark McGrady

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