From the neighborhood Little League field to the big stadiums and ballparks in professional sports, summer is near, and America’s sports field management teams ramp up to meet this busiest, most important time of the year.
The business and busy-ness of a ballpark can be like a giant beehive in the days leading up to an event or game, and now is a good time to also ramp up your team’s safety and well-being awareness.
Fans don’t see the hyper-activity of a busy stadium in the days leading up to the game or event. Buzzing around the huge facility may be carts, high-lifts and hundreds of people working for sponsors, TV and radio networks and other contractors and their subcontractors. It can be a noisy, congested place. Most ballparks now do fan tours all day long, children included. There are the numerous special and corporate event guests visiting the stadium on a daily basis. So it’s a good idea to keep your head on a swivel and anticipate issues around blind corners, whether driving a cart, a mower, a tractor or on foot. Always drive slowly and carefully in and around your busy facility. Insist that everyone else does as well.
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen instances when some fans get nasty — a controversial call or something like that sets them off and they throw bottles and debris on the field. Umpires will stop the game and maybe clear the players from the field. Then, the groundskeepers typically spring into action to save the game by trying to clear the debris off the field. This creates an unsafe situation for them and should be addressed with your field management team before the first game and routinely through the summer busy season.
Don’t be heroes and get someone hurt; have a plan in place approved by management in advance of this type of incident. It should start with taking care of your personal safety and letting the trained security professionals deal with this type of incident. Clean the field up when they say it is safe to do so.
Don’t pick up trash left on the field after a game or practice without protecting yourself from possible hazards. Wear appropriate gloves and use utensils to pick up any bandages, trash or other items left on the field or team bench/dugout areas. Never grab or otherwise handle any suspicious looking item that may have been left or thrown on the field – instead, have security personnel check it out first. Make sure everyone on the field team knows about this.
Heat and sun stress are nothing to be flippant about. Have plenty of drinking water and electrolyte replacement packets available for your field team. Keep sunscreen and sunglass/safety goggle cleaner wipes available in the team areas. Encourage full-brim hats – they’ll keep your head cooler and shaded so you’ll be better protected and fresher at the end of the long hot days.
It’s also a good idea to keep insect and mosquito repellent on hand along with a standard insect/spider bite kit. There are companies that will keep your first-aid cabinet stocked for you with regular visits.
Also be sure to inject some clean, safe fun into the routine.
Take turf team field trips on rainy days and visit some other sports field operations or maybe a golf course maintenance operation in your area or city.
Be careful when changing aerifier tines and working on raised rear- implements. Hydraulic hoses and fittings can fail and heavy, raised equipment can suddenly drop. Make sure everyone is using appropriate jack-stands or other compliant safety measures when working on equipment. They’re called “Lock-out, Tag-out” safety measures and there is training widely available on the internet.
Keep a clean, well-lit shop. Take an hour every Friday to do a team shop-cleaning. Keep your office clean and professional. These things really help team morale (and safety) during the grinds. Get a portable cooler for use in the shop during the hot days of summer. Most stadiums and ballparks have these units already for team bench/dugout areas and for special events.
Especially during the long, hot and busy summer season, it’s important to build a team that looks out for each other.