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Online training easily accessible

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

Continuing education for employees is important. But in hard economic times, many business owners can’t afford to train their staff. A new series of online videos from the University of Georgia provides training for workers in the landscape industry, and it’s free.

Developed by the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, the five “Safety Makes Sense” videos cover topics like lawnmower and equipment safety, poisonous plants and animals, appropriate clothing, sun protection, heat stress, heat stroke and repetitive motion injury as well as communicating with supervisors.

OSHA approved

The videos are approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and were funded by an OSHA Susan Harwood Grant. They are offered in both English and Spanish.

“We knew the Spanish versions of our training videos would be popular,” said Ellen Bauske, the center’s program coordinator. “And, with the state’s budget situation, we can’t hire a full-time Spanish-speaking educator. The videos allow us to provide this training despite that.”

In January, the videos made their debut on the center’s Web site, www.ugaurbanag.com/safety. Three weeks ago, they were added to youtube.com. They will soon be available on UGA’s iTunes site at www.itunes.uga.edu.

The videos were placed online first and foremost because that’s what the industry requested, she said.

What the industry wants

“We surveyed the landscape industry and found out they need rainy-day, any-day training,” she said. “It’s hard for them to attend trainings on specific days because they need to plan work around Mother Nature. The videos allow them to be in control of when and where they train their staff.”

For the next phase, Bauske is working with University of Florida Cooperative Extension to offer video training for English-speaking supervisors of Spanish-speaking employees.

“We’d also like to offer video training on best management practices,” she said. “Where we go from here depends on whether we find a fund source.”

In addition to the online videos, the center’s Web site provides English and Spanish versions of the Safety for Hispanic Landscape Workers manual. It’s designed in an easy-to-understand format with images to ensure employees understand the information regardless of language skills or literacy level.

Employees aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the Web site’s resources. It also has information to help supervisors better communicate with a Hispanic workforce.

(Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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