Without a doubt, surviving the past decade has been a challenging stretch of road for the Green Industry. In retrospect, the burst of the housing bubble, the drought, $4 per gallon gasoline, and the recession were just a few of the the factors that shut down over half of Georgia’s ornamental growers and scattered the labor force in all directions looking for work. However, with great challenges comes great opportunity and the winds appear to be changing. The demand for ornamentals and turf is rising, and the green industry is ramping up this spring. The professional organizations have regrouped and are poised and ready to launch the industry into a new era with some exceptional events in partnership with the University of Georgia.
Inherently, agricultural and outdoor workers experience a greater risk of mosquito bites that can vector illnesses such as chikungunya, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, and Zika virus disease. The CDC and EPA recommend using EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol to protect workers against these infections. Fact sheets and posters have been released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlining the Zika virus to promote education and communication regarding practices to reduce worker exposure.
The Urban Ag Council, a professional organization representing the Georgia landscape industry, reports that members are experiencing an uptick in equipment theft at worksites, offices, and storage facilities. To address the issue, the UAC is summoning a “call to action” from all landscape companies and compiling data from those who have experienced recent or past theft (2014-2016). Armed with this data, the UAC hopes to meet with law enforcement agencies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers to determine a course of action to reduce these losses.
The organization is collecting information via a confidential “equipment theft worksheet” available from the Urban Ag Council. To access the worksheet, visit https://urbanagcouncil.com/call-to-action-equipment-theft-crisis-help-needed/
Here are some general equipment theft prevention strategies to consider:
1. Train employees on company procedures to deter equipment theft. In addition, discuss what to do in the event of a theft or robbery.
2. Take Inventory: Establish a routine of equipment inventory. Keep documentation and photo records of serial numbers, makes, and models of equipment.
3. Parking strategy: Be strategic about where you park your vehicle on each jobsite or lunch destination. Park in well lighted locations visible to the work crew and avoid leaving equipment unattended in back lots or hidden areas that are conducive to theft. Position trailers so they aren’t easily accessed or swapped to another vehicle.
4. Deterrents: Lock vehicles, trailers, trailer tongues, and secure equipment when unattended. Don’t leave keys in trucks or commercial mowers.
5. Tracking Devices: Install tracking devices on large equipment.
6. Be Alert: Pay attention to suspicious activity.
7. Insurance: Review your policy and ask your insurance provider about theft prevention.