Safety And... Gardening:
Lauren sits down with Kent Aucoin, a Barge Unload Supervisor in the Grain Export Industry. Listen as they discuss safety, combustible dust, lockout/tagout, gardening, and make a salad with homegrown ingredients in this National Gardening Day episode of the Safety And... podcast.
This podcast is sponsored by LAPCO Manufacturing. LAPCO: premium workwear since 1989.
0:00:26.1 Lauren Brizendine: Hey. Hey. Welcome to Safety And…, a laughing and learning podcast where we talk about safety and well, whatever else you want to. I'm your host, Lauren Brizendine. And I am joined here today by Mr. Kent Aucoin, who is a Barge Unload Supervisor in the Grain Export Industry. Welcome Mr. Kent.
0:00:48.1 Kent Aucoin: Glad to be here.
0:00:49.2 LB: Cool. As you know our podcast, we're gonna talk a little bit about safety. But we also wanna talk about fun, and today we have chosen the topic of gardening. Correct?
0:01:01.5 KA: Oh yes.
0:01:01.5 LB: Safety and gardening.
0:01:03.2 KA: Great.
0:01:03.3 LB: So, for those of you who are listening, we'll get Kent's perspective on safety and then learn a little bit about gardening, which is great because I have a black thumb and I'm pretty sure my COVID garden is dead, except for this one pepper plant. So maybe we can come up with a plan to save that plant.
0:01:27.5 KA: Absolutely.
0:01:28.3 LB: But let's talk about safety first. So, you have spent your entire career working in various plants, and that is a pun intended. But I'm talking more about the river plants we have here in Louisiana. Can you tell us just a little bit about your career? How long you've been in safety and what type of positions you've held?
0:01:51.6 KA: Well, actually I've been in Grain Industry for the last 30, 40 years, and a lot has changed in the safety aspect of the job 'cause back in '70s, you pretty much did what you wanted to do.
0:02:07.6 LB: The '70s were pretty loose and free from what I understand.
0:02:10.7 KA: Right, and things have really come a long way for the better. But I've not seen a lot that has happened and I'm so glad that we are where we are now in all industries with getting you home safely.
0:02:26.8 LB: Yes. So, what has been kind of your role in that evolution of safety over the last 30, 40 years?
0:02:36.5 KA: Well, like I said, there's always a lax of doing things correctly, trying to cut corners, you just get the job going and safety wasn't quite as big as of an impact as it is now, and it's big now.
0:02:55.8 LB: Do you ever remember a time where you've cut corners and maybe it cost you?
0:03:02.6 KA: Well, kind of sad situation. It's not cutting corners. But I was actually involved with a co-worker that we were in the process of an operation, and he was on spring break and he came...
0:03:22.7 LB: It was the '70s, it was wild and free, no I'm just kidding.
0:03:27.2 KA: But yeah. No. But he came to do it actually something had happened that we could have... In today's world, this probably wouldn't have happened. But back then we didn't take that extra step and he did have an accident, and I regret what happened. But it's gonna be better now.
0:03:51.7 LB: Well, I've learned sometimes from those types of accidents. You at least have a takeaway, like a lesson. Do you have a lesson from what happened? Like...
0:04:08.1 KA: Oh, absolutely.
0:04:08.4 LB: What was your takeaway?
0:04:08.8 KA: Oh, absolutely. Well, Absolutely. From then on out, I knew that you have to look out for your colleague. I knew I was gonna be alright, and I thought he was gonna be alright. But he didn't have the experience that I had, and he just didn't make the right moves that I made. And from then on forward, I have always made sure that my colleagues shared what I knew.
0:04:36.1 LB: Yeah. So, it's really just about even in life just looking after each other. That's just a good kind of life rule. Can you tell us a little bit about how safety translates from your professional life into your personal life? I know you put up a... We talked earlier, you put up a lot of decoration. So, I'm sure I picture safety being a part of that. I picture. I picture a lot of safety in your life even when you get home from work.
0:05:09.8 KA: But you know it's so true. It does carry over into your home life. When you cut grass, you will have goggles. You will have earmuffs. When you're using a weed-eater, you're gonna have the proper clothing. You're gonna have the shoes that it takes and that goes a long way.
0:05:30.4 LB: And you can tell that obviously, I don't work in safety because when I do all of those things, I don't even know if I have shoes on. Well, first of all, I don't... I mean, truth be told, I don't mow very often [laughter] but when I do, I don't even know if I have... I don't even know if I own a pair of goggles. So, I'm glad I get to talk to people like you.
0:05:53.8 KA: It does carry over. It really does. It transfers over to your home life and it's... I'm glad to see this now from when I grew up earlier, it's amazing.
0:06:06.5 LB: I think the safest thing I do is maybe wear sunscreen every day. That's about the level of... And I try to obey speed limits...
0:06:16.0 KA: Well, there you go.
0:06:16.3 LB: Yeah. I'm one step closer...
0:06:16.6 KA: You're protecting yourself.
0:06:17.7 LB: To being a safety professional. So, I could only imagine having a career that spans over 40 years in safety, that you've met quite a large group of people, some interesting characters, maybe super safe people, unsafe people. Tell us more about the people that you meet or that you've met over the course of your career, and how they've impacted you.
0:06:49.9 KA: Oh, really. There are people that... They'll cut corners, they're gonna really don't wanna take the extra effort to do the safety procedures to get a job done because they've done it so many times that something's not gonna happen 'cause I know I'm gonna do this, it's gonna go perfect. And when you see that you wanna say something but then at the same time you're approaching someone that's been... That's done it a lot and may chastise you for it. So, I will tell you, I like the... This is an opportunity, that I know a lot of people have heard the safety poem and it's called...
0:07:40.2 LB: Woah. I didn't even know, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah. I didn't even know they had a safety poem.
0:07:44.6 KA: And you know what... And this is really...
0:07:47.0 LB: This is a surprise for me, I am so excited about this.
0:07:50.4 KA: This really sticks... It really goes home with this, it's... safety poem is “I chose to look the other way”.
0:07:58.1 LB: Okay.
0:07:58.8 KA: And it goes... It's always well worth repeating, I know everybody's heard but it's always, always...
0:08:04.7 LB: Well, repeat for me, 'cause I've never heard it, so I am super excited.
0:08:09.1 KA: Okay, it says, "I chose to look the other way,
I could have saved a life that day, but I chose to look the other way.
It wasn't that I didn't care, I had the time, and I was there.
But I didn't want to seem a fool or argue for a safety rule,
I knew he'd done the job before, if I called it wrong, he might get sore.
The chances didn't seem that bad, I've done the same, he knew I had.
So, I shook my head and walked on by, he knew the risk as well as I.
He took the chance, I closed an eye, and with that act, I let him die.
I could have saved a life that day, but I chose to look the other way.
Now every time I see his wife, I know I could have saved his life.
The guilt is something I must bear, but it isn't something you must share.
If you see a risk that others take that puts their life or health at stake,
the question asked or things you say could help them live another day.
If you see a risk and walk away, then hope you never have to say,
I could have saved a life that day, but I chose to look the other way."
You know what the bottom line is? Companies want you to get back home to your family.
0:09:43.6 LB: Well, first of all, that was a very emotional poem. For those of you who haven't heard it before, I'm a little choked up a little bit because I think for me, I hear the word safety and come home safely, and I don't wanna say it sounds cliche, but I don't... I'm not living and breathing it the way you are, so when I hear something like this and get to talk to you, and really hear your story, it's impactful, that is a lot of pressure, that is so much pressure. Again, that was a very emotional roller coaster, I'm crying, I'm nervous, and I'm so... I'm thankful that I don't have to do this.
0:10:30.1 KA: Well, it's the bottom line, when you're on the elements, it's just listen, you just wanna get back home safe. So, whatever you see or whatever you can do, if you could prevent an unsafe act, do it.
0:10:43.1 LB: So, in your field as a Barge Unload Supervisor, or I should say rather, in your role as a Barge Unload Supervisor, the biggest hazard you have is combustible dust, I would assume. Is that correct?
0:11:00.7 KA: No. That's one yeah, and just... In the elements of... You have to wear the mask, and because of those situations. But you see where I'm at in the control room, our main objective is we have to do a lot of the lockout/tagouts. So, they're out in the field, they're locking equipments up. We're in the control room, we actually are trying to start the equipment. So, we have to make sure that the procedure is followed. There's two people involved, it's myself and my co-worker, somebody to start... Try to start it, and somebody witnesses. And then... But that's for our safety, that's our main concern other than the normal operation of unloading the barges, unloading the ships and stuff like that, but as far as safety, lockout/tagouts are really, really big part of the control room.
0:11:58.2 LB: Is there a safety tip that you are tired of hearing of? I know you said earlier, some people might have be tired of hearing the safety poem, is there... For me, I think growing up, it was like, mom advice like, "If others jumped off a bridge, would you?" I'm sure... Is there some type of just tip that you're like, "Oh, if I have to hear about fall protection one more time.”? Or is...
0:12:28.7 KA: Never.
0:12:29.2 LB: Never.
0:12:30.1 KA: Ever.
0:12:30.8 LB: Never.
0:12:31.7 KA: Because you want to get home to your family at the end of the day of the work.
0:12:40.2 LB: And this is why again, you are the safety professional, I'm just the interviewer, learning so much more than I ever knew about safety today. But what type of advice would you give to someone who might wanna get into this field?
0:13:02.6 KA: Well, listen, companies provide a lot of things to... Tools to help you work safety. The companies like yourself that provide the high vis, the protective clothing, all of that is a big, big deal. You have to wear it, show it, and it's like I said, it's come a long way. This high-vis, they never had all that when I was growing up in the '70s. You've got the electrician; you have to have a long-sleeved shirt. For me to turn a breaker off, I gotta have a long-sleeved shirt. [chuckle]
0:13:42.9 LB: Do you literally every time you go and turn a breaker off at work, do they make you put on a long-sleeved shirt?
0:13:48.1 KA: You're supposed to have one.
0:13:49.5 LB: And I know based on this podcast...
0:13:52.4 KA: I'm in the control room now if I walk outside, like the air conditioner kicked out, that's a big breaker on the wall. I should have a long-sleeved shirt to turn it off and turn it back on.
0:14:04.3 LB: Yeah, and I know you do because you are a safety professional, but what do you think it takes to really promote a culture of safety?
0:14:17.9 KA: Good. That's a tough deal you got. It's hard to get people really involved. And some people do, but it's like... They just want to do their job. They don't wanna stop and do the safety... See, that's where we're at, the safety... You gotta make two safety observations every morning. So, you actually have to go watch somebody do something and say, "Hey look, you did good, maybe this is what you need, you probably should've did this." Me, it's hard for me to do. I just do... Some guy that might be walking in the office they make sure they care to these rules...
0:15:02.2 LB: Yeah. They make sure you put your sunscreen on today.
0:15:03.5 KA: I don't get a paper cut and wear the PPE.
0:15:08.0 LB: And don't cut those corners that we talked about earlier. Don't be that guy who's over-confident, but I think also don't be the guy that doesn't say anything either because he's working with the over-confident guy. If you could go back and do anything differently, would you do anything differently? Not choose the safety, but then would you choose to be a marketer instead of a...
0:15:35.5 KA: Oh, no, no, no, I love the field I'm in. Yeah, absolutely, I love what I do, and no, I'm good.
0:15:44.6 LB: Alright. Well, now I'm getting into the personal part of the interview. What type of hobbies do you enjoy outside of work when you're not being safe?
0:15:56.5 KA: Let me tell you. I wish I could golf; I wish I could fish; I wish I could hunt.
0:16:03.1 LB: You wish?
0:16:04.3 KA: None of those happened, so...
0:16:06.6 LB: You're not... So, what are you doing in South Louisiana if you do none of those things?
0:16:09.7 KA: The next best thing. I love to garden; I love to grow vegetables. I love my okra, I love my cauliflower, I love my broccoli, I love my cucumbers, tomatoes. There's nothing like fresh vegetables, but if I could do those things, those would be fine, but I'm not in a position to do that, so I'm fine where I'm at.
0:16:37.3 LB: I know you like to cook as well, so not only growing all the food, but I know you like to cook it and I've eaten quite a few of your meals. And I didn't get this vibe off you is all I'm saying, 'cause you definitely can cook and to me, this is a perfect segue, although I feel like I do have a couple of more safety questions. I think this is a good segue into talking about gardening, but is there anything else you wanna say before we kinda close the door on the safety and get into the more "And Gardening" part of the show? Is there anything you kinda wanna say? Just closing thoughts on safety or that you haven't said yet or...
0:17:22.8 KA: Just please wear your PPE and don't take shortcuts. Go to the Toolbox Meetings, bring up questions. You want... I cannot express this more than anything, to get back home to your family at the end of the day.
0:17:45.0 LB: And I'm not gonna lie, I kinda wanna go to a Toolbox Meeting 'cause if someone asked me to identify 10 tools, I don't know if I could do it, so I might need...
0:17:54.9 KA: Well, a Toolbox Meeting is really... If it's cold weather, they'll tell you, "Hey, be careful with the ice, make sure you have the right footing." If it's hot, "Make sure you drink a lot of fluid." It's the thing of the day or something that...
0:18:10.1 LB: So, don't wear heels and drink margaritas.
0:18:12.6 KA: Exactly.
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0:19:20.0 LB: The gardening part of this... I am super excited to talk to you about some of the vegetables you've grown, not just the vegetables but the plants too. I mean, you can grow anything, I'm pretty sure. What exactly kind of got you into plants? And now this time I'm not talking about the refineries on the river, I am talking about gardening plants. The pun doesn't work good the second time, note to self. [laughter]
0:19:53.4 KA: Listen, it's just to have something to do in your spare time, you have to keep the mind going. Gardening works for me, that it keeps my mind occupied, and then I get to learn, how can I grow this particular vegetable a little bit better next year, if it didn't turn out so well this year? Or what kind of soils that might work... It's an ongoing process.
0:20:20.0 LB: Do you just Google it? Like how...
0:20:23.6 KA: Sometimes I do, but it just kind of what works for you. Just using different soils, using different... How much can you water it, how much you can't water it. And you just see what it produces, and then the next year you make your adjustments. But I like it. It keeps me busy.
0:20:47.6 LB: Now, this is not a COVID bandwagon hobby for you, right? Because a lot of people, myself included, picked up gardening during COVID, and I was growing sweet peppers, lavender and mint, and another thing that died so quickly I can't even remember what it was, and all I have left is the sweet pepper. But you've been gardening well before COVID. How long have you been growing a garden or having some type of plant?
0:21:17.4 KA: 10 years, I would think, maybe 15. And you'd be surprised, I tried a big garden with the rows and stuff, and a lot of that didn't work. I found out that just the raised flowerbed next to the house works perfect. Because you can only eat so many vegetables.
0:21:40.9 LB: Yeah...
0:21:41.0 KA: And it doesn't take but two or three tomato plants, two or three bell pepper plant, it doesn't take a whole lot to get you through the summer.
0:21:50.6 LB: I remember...
0:21:51.3 KA: I think that's kind of what I'm learning now, so I'm kinda downsizing. So, anybody can grow any vegetable they want.
0:22:00.7 LB: What I remember, the big garden, and I will say I had fresh cucumbers and tomatoes in my refrigerator for the entirety of the summer 'cause they were so plentiful. And truth be told, I was a little jealous because I have a black thumb, I have a black thumb.
0:22:20.6 KA: But listen, there's always a story behind growing anything. I can remember when I first started, I wanted to get corn. I wanted corn 'cause I love corn on the cob. So, I had two rows of corn, and man, I never did it before and I'm kind of feeling my way through it, and I see the huskers kind of coming out. And my neighbor said, "Louis, you know what, it's almost time to pick." I said," No wait a little while longer." And then my stepson came over and told me that he thinks they're ready to pick. I say, "Well, how do you know that?" He says, "Go check it out." Well, I go to the garden and guess what? Half of it's gone...
0:23:00.7 LB: Oh, that's why I had... [laughter]
0:23:03.0 KA: The critters ate the half, so that's why he knew...
0:23:04.4 LB: That's why they were ready to pick 'cause they're ready to eat.
0:23:07.2 KA: So, I was thinking it was a raccoon, but it turned out to be crows, and then that's another deal, you gotta put plates in... So, it's interesting. I mean look, it was pretty cool though. I got half, they got half.
0:23:20.3 LB: Is there anything kind of weird or cool that you've grown unexpectedly, like a, I don't know, a cross between a pepper and a corn? I don't know if that is a peppercorn, but in this situation I'm calling it that.
0:23:36.7 KA: No, I've never had any issues with planting different plants, different vegetables together. I guess maybe on a big scale, but small scale no I haven't had any issues. I have some funny stories especially with growing pineapples, which takes two years to actually get a pineapple, which a whole lot of people think it's just easy to go to the store and pick a $1.75 pineapple. [chuckle]
0:24:01.3 LB: I'm on that group, the $1.75 group.
0:24:04.2 KA: The pineapple is really, really so much better. The thing... And especially where I'm at, it's a little open area, so there's a lot of critters out there, and after two years, the two funniest stories I have is that the pineapple... Boy, you can tell it starts turning, it's gold and you can smell it...
0:24:24.5 LB: And it's been two years, and you're just so excited. [chuckle]
0:24:28.1 KA: And you just can't wait, and then my wife called and says, "The raccoons had a party." I said, "What do you mean?"
0:24:35.3 LB: Maybe it was Mardi Gras.
0:24:35.6 KA: She says, "Wait till you come home." And sure enough they clipped the pineapple plant off, they ate the pineapple plant, left me the top of the pineapple, and knocked the garbage can over, knocked the beers over, so they had some empty beer cans next to the top of the pineapple, so they had their party.
0:24:55.6 LB: They really did have a party. Oh, well, at least they saved you some. I would say all the critters who have come in contact with your food tend to save you some. So, they're not the worst.
0:25:07.8 KA: They're not the worst. But I tell you what, hey, we share here, we share here.
0:25:12.8 LB: There you go.
0:25:12.9 KA: But after two years it kind of hurts.
0:25:14.5 LB: Well...
0:25:14.8 KA: That's kinda... Look, there's always an adventure when you grow a garden, you never know what you're gonna get.
0:25:20.4 LB: I want that on a shirt. "There's always an adventure when you grow a garden." [chuckle]
0:25:25.0 KA: You got all kind of stuff.
0:25:27.3 LB: So, I'll ask you this, and we could end with this, but what do I need to be a garden master like you? Obviously, patience, because I feel that anything that requires two years to grow, if I don't know about that upfront, I'm out, just because I'm so impatient. I don't think I can do it. But what else might someone need in addition to patience?
0:25:55.6 KA: I mean you'd start off with the right soil, and maybe Miracle-Gro, or you could put some fertilizer in there. But don't be disappointed if your first year doesn't turn out like you want it to because you have... Hey, Miracle-Gro, fertilizer, let it grow and see what happens.
0:26:16.3 LB: Let it go, let it grow.
0:26:18.7 KA: That's it. And it really doesn't take much. A little raised flowerbed is all you need.
0:26:24.0 LB: It sounds almost...
0:26:25.8 KA: You don't need 10 acres of land and have like 25,000 rows...
0:26:33.4 LB: Well, this isn't the '70s anymore. You could have a little city garden and...
0:26:38.4 KA: Absolutely.
0:26:39.2 LB: Yeah, so...
0:26:40.3 KA: I'm downsized. I'm around the house. [laughter]
0:26:42.9 LB: Well, I don't know much about gardening, but now I am much wiser, so thank you for that. Now, one thing I do know about is how to eat. And for our fun thing for today's show, I asked if we could make a salad. It's actually around supper time, so I thought we could go pick some vegetables, and then kind of for our listeners, put together a nice, healthy, literally home-grown, locally, I mean... This is out your house, so it doesn't get much home-grown or local than that. And we can make us a little salad. Does that sound good?
0:27:22.8 KA: Absolutely. Okay, so we have... Then we're gonna put some carrots in also.
0:27:28.7 LB: Alright. So, we are washing the vegetables with water and just slicing them to throw into the pressure cooker, just in kind of bite-size pieces, I guess.
0:27:41.2 KA: I haven't done carrots as of late 'cause I don't have the carrots. So, we're gonna try the carrots.
0:27:55.5 KA: Okay, then the rest we're gonna keep. We have one cauliflower, and we have one broccoli that we're gonna keep for our salad.
0:28:07.9 LB: Yeah, all these lettuces are gorgeous. The leaves are just beautiful. Now, for our raw salad, we're gonna just use a basic Romaine lettuce.
0:28:29.4 KA: With some of the cauliflower.
0:28:32.2 LB: With some of the cauliflower and... Now, do you have a certain dressing you like to eat it with? Are you a ranch guy?
0:28:44.0 KA: I can go with black pepper, salt, and vinegar, and I can go with any kind of sides, ranch dressing. I can go with anything. I'm not particular, I can go either way. I like to kinda mix it up though.
0:29:04.0 LB: Alright. Well, today I'm feeling the salad dressing. Let's see what we have here.
0:29:09.5 KA: So, all we have to do is put a couple of water and we'll give it a good steam.
0:29:34.1 LB: So, I'm about to take this incredibly healthy salad with these beautiful fresh vegetables and ruin it with some jalapeno ranch, because that sounds fantastic. Because it's not America unless you have, not just ranch, but jalapeno ranch.
0:29:57.8 KA: Absolute. For sure. Now, also with the steamed vegetables, I like to put cheese... It's either cheese, vinegar, salt, and pepper, either way, that's how I like my steamed vegetables.
0:30:12.2 LB: So, this salad is pretty much done, the raw salad or raw vegetables. You can certainly just serve them on a tray with some jalapeno ranch for, if you're going to maybe a work party, but you could also do this for your lunch too.
0:30:26.6 KA: Yes, that would work very well with ranch dressing.
0:30:37.3 LB: So so delicious. I don't wanna put too much. Just a few dozen tablespoons.
0:30:48.0 KA: That's looking good.
0:30:49.2 LB: That's looking good, right? That's enough.
0:30:52.2 KA: This is what we call fresh out the garden.
0:30:54.6 LB: Fresh out the garden, and I am here for it.
0:30:58.0 KA: We're talking 10 minutes ago.
0:31:00.8 LB: 10 minutes ago. I know, man. And it is delicious. Alright, bon appetit.
0:31:11.7 KA: Just listen to this crunch. Holy smokes.
0:31:21.9 LB: That is fresh.
0:31:24.7 LB: Special thanks to Kent Aucoin, Barge Unload Supervisor, for talking about safety and gardening with us today.
0:31:41.7 LB: If you enjoyed listening to the "Safety And... " Podcast today, be sure to like, review or subscribe wherever you get your podcast. Also, if you're interested in being a guest on our show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. That's marketing at L-A-P-C-O dot com. Since this is a safety podcast, we should probably mention this disclaimer. The "Safety And... " Podcast is recorded and made available by LAPCO Manufacturing, Inc fully for informational and entertainment purposes. The statements, comments, views, and opinions expressed in this podcast should not be considered by any listener as professional provision and/or directed specific course of action. The statements, comments, views, and opinions expressed here including by speakers who are not employees or agents of LAPCO are not necessarily those of LAPCO and may not be current. This podcast may not be reproduced, redistributed, published, copied, or duplicated in any form by any means without prior consent from LAPCO Manufacturing, Inc.
0:32:40.9 LB: This is Lauren Brizendine with LAPCO, and remember, safety doesn't happen by accident, so stay safe, and see you next time on the "Safety And..." Podcast. The "Safety And..." Podcast is produced by LAPCO Manufacturing, with marketing and media by Lauren Brizendine and Tiffany Giroir, audio engineering by Christopher Hamlin, and music by Smokehouse Beats.
0:33:05.2 LB: That's easy. Cool.