ArborTimes Winter 2023

and training program should not only provide data but culture. The emphasis on training and direction, handled in a relatable manner at the field level, in real-time, will produce the results that improve organizations’ safety perfor- mance, worker satisfaction as a result of the regular input to job performance and, ideally, worker longevity by reduc- ing injuries and physical strains inher- ent in the tree worker field. As seen through these ten audit exam- ples, a comprehensive safety audit is an immersive experience that takes an extensive look at a wide variety of safe- ty practices. With a focus on safety and the implementation of a safety auditing program, you can ensure that your tree crew stays up-to-date on standards and Ultimately, a safety auditing program should help you keep close tabs on how tree crews are adhering to safety best practices at any given time. It can serve as a proac- tive approach to help you take action against any unsafe behavior before it turns into a pattern. With more than 25 years of experience in the utility services industry, ACRT Services senior manager Bob Urban has built a wealth of expertise in ev- erything from operations and sales to training and negotiation. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Utility Arborist and attended Paul Smith’s College in New York. any critical changes that may have been made since they were first educated on these. An auditing pro- gram also takes full account of how well a crew is liv- ing up to standards in their everyday fieldwork. "Ultimately, a safety audit- ing program should help you keep close tabs on how tree crews are adhering to safety best practices"

ty with safety best practices. With the right experience and knowledge, your audit partner will be able to work with you to develop a comprehensive audit- ing program that evaluates in real-time how your crew is working in the field. Not all crews necessitate the same level of auditing. When selecting a partner to conduct your safety auditing, you should first identify the skills and back- ground for the level of detail desired. BENEFITS OF AN AUDITING PROGRAM Qualified vegetation management workers may go through formal safe- ty training once a year where they’ll learn about aerial rescue, chainsaw use, tree felling, wood chipper safety,

9. Equipment use and technology solutions. Technology and improved techniques for performing all aspects of the job is likely under-recognized. Using the right gear for the job when approaching difficult or technical sit- uations can reduce the potential for an accident. Using a qualified auditor to provide that feedback and training to workers in real-time, on the job will improve productivity and work- er confidence as well as, potentially, worker longevity. 10. General housekeeping. Keep- ing things neat and organized is critical to safety, and that means making sure that generalized housekeeping among tree crews is orderly, and accounts for all the es- sential items. Auditors should check to make sure that crews have the necessary cones for traffic work, a full stock of water to ensure crews remain hydrated, first aid kits and fire ex- tinguishers are present in the event of an emer- gency, and ensure that things are labeled prop- erly and stored safely. Ensuring that equip- ment is stored in the proper compartments and cab cleanliness are also points not to be overlooked. CHOOSING AN AUDIT PARTNER When you’re looking for a third-party partner to perform a safety audit, what criteria should you consider? Make sure that your audit team is well-versed in the appropriate OSHA- and indus- try-specific standards. For example, utility vegetation work is governed by the OSHA Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 29 1910.269 and ANSI Z133. An audit partner that is involved with rel- evant committees will have vast knowl- edge and understanding of the safety standards to which your crew must adhere. In addition, the more industry experience an auditor has, the more likely they are to have great familiari-

rope and saddle climbing, bucket op- erations, and more. However, safety is more than a once-a-year event, and perhaps more important than any- thing is consistency in working safely and following best practices. It’s one thing to pass an annual safety test, but it’s another to work the same way many months later when no one is evaluating you. Auditing programs traditionally have been data pool sources, this is useful as long as the data serves a purpose or is utilized. The effort of a safety auditing Wood chippers are another essential tool that have the potential to be extremely hazardous. Your audit team must evaluate how tree crews handle and work around the equipment. Photo by Richard May.

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