Canterwood Golf & Country Club’s Renee Geyer on hazardous spill safety

Get tips on prevention and preparedness from the GCSAA Class A superintendent and Golf Safety.


Editor’s note: The following article was supplied by Golf Safety. All product claims, research cited and other information is directly from the company.

Accidents happen, but as Renee Geyer, GCSAA Class A superintendent at Canterwood Golf & Country Club in Belfair, Wash., emphasizes, it's how we respond that truly matters. Working on a golf course involves frequent encounters with hazardous materials, from fertilizers to cleaning products, and each brings with it potential risks to the health and safety of your crew. Preventing disasters at your facility entails consistent training and building a culture of safety.

Renee Geyer, GCSAA Class A superintendent at Canterwood Golf & Country Club in Belfair, Wash. Photo courtesy of Renee Geyer

Renee Geyer

Golf Safety interviewed Geyer to gain insights on preparing for and managing hazardous spills on the course. While preventing these emergencies should be the number one goal, even the most vigilant crew can encounter an unexpected spill, which means you need to be prepared when it happens. Here are the key takeaways from the conversation.

1. Knowledge is key

Comprehensive training is essential to ensure that every member of your crew understands the risks associated with hazardous chemicals and knows how to respond effectively. “When you're going through training processes and helping individuals to understand the variety of things that they will encounter in the shop, it doesn't necessarily apply only to a spray technician or an assistant superintendent,” Geyer says. “It's every member of the team.” From understanding Safety Data Sheets (SDS) to familiarizing themselves with spill kits, education is the first line of defense in spill prevention and cleanup. As Geyer says, “It's not just sharing secret information with one or two people. Everybody has a broad understanding of what we have on site.”

2. If you see something, say something

In the event of a spill, it’s paramount that crew members know the next steps they should take. “Everybody on the staff knows that accidents can happen, and accidents are truly accidents,” Geyer says. For her, averting and responding to accidents comes down to one important rule: if you see something, say something. “If you see something that's not right, involve people that are able to handle those situations straight out the gate,” Geyer says. “Don't be a hero. Let's use the protocol that's in place as far as who should be responsible for that accident.”

Clear communication and adherence to established protocols can make all the difference between a quickly contained spill and a harmful disaster at your facility. Remember, the well-being of your crew should always be the top priority.

3. Follow established protocols

When it comes to hazardous spill emergencies, having a quick and effective response comes down to the whole crew following established protocols. Geyer stresses the importance of knowing how to respond to emergencies. "Being prepared for the worst-case scenario puts you on a different heightened sense of awareness," she says. “You just hope and pray that you never have to use it.”

Clear protocols outline the steps crew members should take in the event of a spill, minimizing confusion and maximizing efficiency. By adhering to these protocols, your team can mitigate risks and contain spills before they escalate into larger disasters.

4. “The Label is the law”

At Canterwood Golf & Country Club, Geyer often repeats her philosophy on chemical safety: The label is the law. “There's nothing that goes in a tank without reading the labels beforehand,” she says. “We all go through a training period where we sign off on understanding the global harmonized system and the symbols. The label is the law. That's it.”

Understanding the information provided on Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and chemical labels is not just a recommendation - it's a legal requirement crucial for the safe handling and storage of hazardous materials. By prioritizing safety compliance and ensuring that operators are well-versed in interpreting SDS labels, you not only mitigate the risk of accidents or spills but also demonstrate a commitment to upholding the highest safety standards on your golf course.

5. Create a strong culture of safety

Building a strong culture of safety is essential for preventing accidents and responding efficiently to emergencies. Geyer reflects on the value of having a team with extensive experience and a deep commitment to safety. "I'm very blessed here at my facility where there's a lot of tenure on my staff," she explains. “They've been around these types of products for many, many years and they've seen a lot and experienced a lot. I'll ask a question and they'll say, oh, that happened about 20 years ago, and this is what we did.” By fostering a culture of safety where each crew member is equipped with the knowledge they need, you empower your team and ensure that everyone is prepared to handle potential hazards. This collaborative approach not only reinforces safety protocols but also instills confidence and accountability among crew members.

Geyer also highlighted the value of Golf Safety's training resources in enhancing understanding and preparedness for hazardous spill situations. "You're not doing dry runs with it," she explains. "It's not like you're doing training where you're going to dump 50 gallons of antifreeze on the ground. So the visualization is tough, and that's where things like the (safety training videos) come in." By incorporating these training materials into safety protocols, golf courses can effectively prepare their teams for emergencies and ensure a proactive approach to hazard management.

Ready to build a culture of safety on your golf course? Golf Safety offers comprehensive safety solutions tailored to your course's unique layout and operations. Contact Golf Safety today to book a demo call and learn how they can help you create a safer environment for everyone.