ArborTimes Winter 2023

“A comprehensive safety audit program can be invaluable for any tree care organization, even when it might appear that your crew is adhering to safety practices.”

Using Safety Audits to Re and Improve Crew Safety By Bob Urban

you ensure safety best practices are al- ways being followed? A comprehensive series of safety audits and feedback reporting or on-site, real-time training conducted by a third-party partner might be the answer. A comprehensive safety audit program can be invaluable for any tree care or- ganization, even when it might appear that your crew is adhering to safety practices. These audits will provide a detailed, objective assessment of a crew or contractor’s safety practices. Safety audits of your crew should be per- formed at random and be unanticipated to get a real sense of how your crew is performing. Every organization should consider implementing the following nine audit areas as they are critical for overall crew safety and business success. 1. Pre-job briefing. Each project should begin with a pre-job brief- ing that coordinates the activities of each member of the crew. Auditors ensure the entire crew is involved in a job briefing before starting the job. They also ensure the job briefing has information about job hazards, including work procedures, special precautions and appropriate person- al protective equipment (PPE).

When it comes to safely performing tree work of any kind, best practices are es- sential. Keeping people safe on the job is a top priority — whether you’re a utility or a company that provides services to utilities. The daily and long-term ben- efits of using a safety-monitoring pro- gram will not only improve the lives of the worker, but also the stress and cost for management and ownership of orga- nizations. From improving worker ca- reer longevity to stabilizing or reducing worker compensation insurance premi- ums, safety programs pay. Too oen, taking a closer look at how a given crew works and operates accord- ing to safety best practices and proce- dures is prompted by an accidental in- jury or even death. Beyond the human cost, the tree crew and the organization that has contracted them for work are both suddenly under significant pres- sure. Accidents may result in Occupa- tional Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties, higher insurance rates, workers’ compensation claims and potential loss of long-term contracts when the clients have safety as a perfor- mance metric. Adherence to safety best practices is a critical part of any type of work and doing everything possible to ensure that crews are upholding their commit- ment to safety is paramount. So how do

Safe chainsaw operation requires constant, continual attention to all safety measures, but it’s not uncommon for even veterans to become complacent and develop poor habits. All photos courtesy of the author unless otherwise noted.

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