crew member operating bunker rake safely

Scary Things Happen When You Don’t Put Safety First

Protect your crew, your club, and the people who enjoy it by steering clear of these common safety blunders.

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You probably take care to drive your car safely, and ensure you don’t leave the stove on when you depart home. These are common-sense precautions we all take to avoid the scary consequences. When it comes to your course, why not do the same? Protect your crew, your club, and the people who enjoy it by steering clear of these common safety blunders.

Poor Equipment Maintenance

Preventative and regular equipment maintenance is paramount. Put it on the schedule and use off-season downtime to do an annual equipment review. Be on top of the details. For example, make sure your mower adjustments are in synch with your turf’s needs. An out-of-whack mower not only causes damage to the machine, it could also be fatal to turf.

In addition, check that protective shrouds or shields are in place and ensure equipment is properly treaded and not worn down. Sliding on slopes often happens, particularly on wet turf, and accidents like this can hurt your turf and your crew.

The good news is that most all equipment manufacturers provide and regularly update maintenance guides. You can also find extensive safety information on equipment maintenance and more on the Golf Course Superintendents of America Association’s (GCSAA) site. Take advantage of these resources and build regular and end-of-season maintenance into your agenda.

Sub-Par Training and Communication

golf course maintenance crew members stretching
While your crew endeavors to keep your equipment in good working order, they should apply the same attention to their own wellbeing. Stretching before a shift begins is a safety best practice that helps prevent injuries.

Good safety means going beyond the simple how-to when it comes to training. Your crew should be fully knowledgeable about when and where use of equipment is appropriate. Go over a map of your course with all crew members and explain what equipment is rated for which areas and in what conditions. Make this map and information easily accessible to ensure the wellbeing of your equipment and your crew.

Lack of Protective Gear

Golf is a game with projectiles, specifically golf balls, yet it’s common to see maintenance crews on the course without hard hats. When your crew is in any area of the course when play is in process, make sure they are wearing protective headgear. Other commonly overlooked safety measures include providing workers with noise protection, sun protection or safety glasses. These simple steps are often skipped and the adverse effects can range from immediate to long term.

Unawareness About Workers’ Limitations

Course maintenance is a physical job inherent with hidden risks. Know what your crew can and cannot reasonably do. Your course may have water features, like lakes or ponds. Find out if all your crew members can swim. Check to see if any crew members have back issues and if lifting presents a problem. Ask about any potential health issues you should know about. Cases have occurred where crew members have suffered seizures on the job or slipped into ponds or lakes and not known how to swim. Keep safety at the forefront of every decision, particularly when crew members are sent out on the course to perform potentially hazardous tasks.

The Upshot: Create a Culture that Promotes Safety

Avoiding the common safety pitfalls above will only help you so much. To create a safe environment that protects both your turf and your crew members, you need to build a culture that promotes and rewards safety. That means providing ongoing communication and training on safety best practices, posting clear safety information that all crew members (regardless of their native language) can understand and rewarding crew members who regularly adhere to safety standards. Offer incentives, give prizes—do what you can to let your crew know that you appreciate their compliance with safety standards.

In short, you need to create and promote a culture that values safety for the sake of the individual, your club and course — and for the team at large. Let your crew know it’s everyone’s responsibility to look out for each other not just because it’s the smart thing to do from a cost/risk point of view, but because yours is a club that cares about people—from the players who count on excellent course conditions, to the crew members who make them possible.

Outstanding Golf Course Maintenance

You set the standard, we make it happen. We’re laser-focused on continuously refining the science, technology, and operations of golf course maintenance so we can bring our clients a competitive advantage and a course their players are proud of.