November 22, 2019

Deploying SWAT: MaxYield Cultivates the Next Generation of Safety Professionals

What if you or a key person in your operation became incapacitated and couldn’t handle major jobs, like planting or harvesting the crop? How would your operation carry on?

MaxYield Cooperative team members started asking the same questions about your cooperative. That’s why we created the Safe Workplace Apprentice Team (SWAT) in February of 2014.

“We want to find better ways to protect our team members,” said Tom Winkel, MaxYield’s assistant operations and safety director. “We also want to protect your investment in this company and find solutions to prevent service interruptions.”

Teresa Mosiman, Jeremy Joynt, Tom Winkel. Not shown: Tom Angus.

Teresa Mosiman, Jeremy Joynt, Tom Winkel. Not shown: Tom Angus.

The key words are “apprentice” and “team” with MaxYield’s SWAT, which includes Teresa Mosiman at Klemme, Tom Angus at Algona, and Jeremy Joynt at Emmetsburg. “We need to have a succession plan in place,” Winkel said. While MaxYield could hire a new safety director as its safety specialists retire, that’s not enough, he added. “There’s no way anyone can become an effective safety director right away. Plus, you’re back to square one if that new team member doesn’t stay. That’s why we took things to the next level by creating SWAT.”

Making progress
Creating the three-member SWAT builds on MaxYield’s existing safety program, which includes regular safety briefings and other safety training programs. While SWAT bolsters MaxYield’s safety culture, the group is small enough to be manageable.

“We recruited team members who live the MaxYield promise, can devote extra time to safety, and are willing to move into new leadership positions,” said Winkel, who added that team members represent MaxYield’s three regions. “I realize these folks have many daily duties, so we want to keep SWAT manageable while helping them learn more about safety.”

Each SWAT member is invited to attend meetings of the Ag Cooperative Safety Directors. They’ve also completed a 10-hour safety class from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), along with a three-hour OSHA refresher course. In addition, SWAT members have been getting acquainted with staff from OSHA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “I want them to know these people on a first-name basis, so MaxYield can maintain a proactive partnership with these agencies,” Winkel said.

This summer, SWAT members also assisted Winkel with the annual tour and safety critique of MaxYield’s locations. They each went to locations outside their region to conduct a site survey and bring a fresh perspective. The goal is to spot potential issues and correct them before they endanger team members’ or clients’ safety or cause service interruptions.

“I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’re making,” said Winkel, who noted that no other cooperative in the area has a system like SWAT. “We live and breathe a safety culture at MaxYield, and SWAT is keeping things moving forward.” While SWAT members have been focusing on safety issues, Winkel would like to get them more involved with compliance issues next. “Looking into the future with our safety and compliance solutions helps keep people safe and gives MaxYield a competitive edge in this industry.” ■

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