Congratulations to Gardiner Public Schools for receiving the MSGIA FY21-Gary Griffith Excellence in Workplace Safety Award
Many dream of moving to this area and others plan a lifetime to visit. What is viewed as a wonderful fantasy this community deals with daily. It is a snowmobile capital, a wildlife mecca, a tourist destination, and the original entrance to the first national park.
When speaking with Mike Baer, Superintendent of Gardiner Public Schools, he will tell you that “we don’t do anything special” when it comes to safety. However, once he elaborates a bit further, there are many key points that add up to their success.
The first is that he is quick to say that “he has the right people in the right place.” Most of the staff at Gardiner has been with the district for upwards of eight years. Mr. Baer is happy to state, “we have a lot of great people just doing their job.” The staff knows their job, what is expected of them and how to do it safely. The district conducts safety training and often discusses safety as an everyday item. There is a work order system in place for items to be conducted. Certain employees use ladders. If someone needs to climb, they are to put in a request to the employees that have been trained in proper ladder use. This also applies to other safety equipment and items. The staff follows a chain of command regarding safety.
The district is very good at winter preparation. They have staff that moves the snow to allow safer access into and out of the building. They also plan where that snow will be put. They not only need to look at where the water will go when the snow melts but not hinder travel into and out of the national park. Keeping in mind the district complex is a half block from the north entrance to Yellowstone.
The district is willing to purchase the equipment needed to help staff. The office staff has had ergonomic assessments conducted and the district purchased the necessary equipment to keep them safe and comfortable throughout the day. The kitchen staff has and uses carts for moving heavy items. Also, snow removal equipment is in place and used. These are just a few examples.
The staff and students at Gardiner are more aware of their surroundings than many others. They have to be. Not only does the population in the town double, triple, or more during tourist seasons this affects the traffic around the school, watching for those who are preoccupied while on vacation, and being aware of strangers. The elk stay free at every motel in town, and they have made the lawns and football field at the school their own. Bison snuggle up to the school windows and next to warm vehicles in the parking lot. These animals while beautiful are still wild and therefore unpredictable. This means that the staff and students think on their feet. The district has multiple evacuation routes from the building in case wildlife may be in their path. They also have good plans to get back into the building quickly if unexpected four-legged visitors should decide they wish to visit. It has been said that common sense is no longer common. In Gardiner, it is alive and well and being used daily.
Mr. Baer also states that the district is small, and this can be a benefit for communication but that they have a “big city” attitude when it comes to getting matters completed. Most importantly everyone looks out for one another.