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Pioneer plants safety as 1,300 head to fields

July 7, 2011
By John Speer, Editor •
TAMA NEWS-HERALD - “Safety is the top priority at Pioneer,” Travis Smith, safety coordinator at the Toledo Pioneer Production Plant emphasized during machine operator training sessions this week and last. With the Toledo location expecting to send 1,300 people into fields in central Iowa about July 10, ground work has been laid for and an appeal for public awareness made.

All of the added summer detasslers and ‘rougers’ at Toledo are hired in Iowa. There are four Toledo growing areas: Toledo, Dysart, Beaman-Conrad and Nevada.

Witness the sea of school busses now lined up at the Toledo plant to get a feel for the size of the upcoming operation.

Smith cautioned the many busses ferrying agricultural workers and the field equipment itself will frequently be on local roads in the weeks ahead. The leased busses are readily recognizable because the school word designations have been covered up, Smith pointed out.

Motorists should be on the look out for these busses as they turn into and pull from field driveways and travel up and down roadways. in addition to field equipment, a large number of “porta-potties” are moved from field to field with a hauling speed restriction of 45 miles-per-hour, Smith said.

Operators of “personnel carriers” or “PCs” those machines seen passing up and down the rows of corn with people aboard pulling tassels - practiced safe driving and learned functions of the equipment during simulated field work at the Toledo plant.

Smith said those trained will, in turn, instruct those in the field as the annual detasseling work gets underway. He said Pioneer is almost unique among seed companies in using PCs.

A sub-committee of Toledo Pioneer hourly workers worked with management to develop safety guidelines. Members are Jim Backen, Cory Behounek, Craig Fish Jon McWilliams and Smith.

Smith said credit for many of the measures implemented goes to subcommittee members and credits them for working together to show everyone is involved in the safety program.


Article Photos

Travis Smith, Pioneer safety coordinator at Toledo, (left) talks safe equipment operation during a workshop at the plant on June 30. News-Herald photos/John Speer



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