ArborTimes Winter 2023

safe products and practices become “cool,” adoption rates will increase. THE STICK Improving the safety culture for an entire industry is not an easy task. Unquestionably, compelling compli- ance will always require use of “the stick” (punishment) from both gov- ernment regulators and company compliance officers. However, it’s not the only, nor is it the most effective, way to achieve the desired end to incentivize the horse to drink. Com- pliance by itself does not elevate the standard of the industry. CONSIDER THE BEST APPROACH Taking “the carrot” (reward) ap- proach affords us the opportunity to increase buy-in. We can do this by ad- dressing the valid reasons why tree people object to certain safety mea- sures; recognizing the social aspects and pressures that drive individual and industry behavior and taking steps to encourage widespread adop- tion; and pushing manufacturers to improve the function, comfort and usability of the products designed to keep us safe. In short, the reward approach lends itself more to encour- aging innovation and growth within the industry. Originally born in Old Lyme, Connecti- cut, David O’Neill currently resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Following his passion, David traveled across the U.S. conducting arboricultural operations, ultimately seeding himself out west in Santa Rosa, California with Acad- emy-Trained. As a Certified Arborist, CTSP, Certified Crane Operator and traveling contract climber, David strives to strengthen the arborist community by making the industry safer through skill and safety-based training. Being an avid outdoorsman with a passion for trees, David joined Academy-Trained to spread his vision of less workplace inju- ries and fatalities in the industry. As a seed of this industry, David is commit- ted to grow and provide for the better- ment of his fellow workers.

when I reframed the question and asked if folks would wear chainsaw pants as opposed to chaps, there was significantly less pushback, but hesi- tation persisted. CHALLENGING COMMON OBJECTIONS Let’s take a look at why people object to chainsaw pants and close on some of those objections. The two most common reasons I have heard for why individuals don’t wear chainsaw pants are cost and overheating. For the individual, cost can be miti- gated through company purchasing

fort and temperature management in chainsaw leg protection for the last few years, and many have suc- cessfully created very lightweight and breathable products. Consumer education plays an important role in improving adoption rates for these innovative products. Trade shows and industry events, including com- petitions, will continue to be an im- portant part of consumer education. Finally, we can’t ignore the impact of perceived coolness of a product or safety practice and how it decreases the barriers to adoption among in- dividuals. If we can convince folks

Common complaints in using cut-resistant leg protection include overheating, limited range of motion or the perception that they were simply unnecessary, lame or even “uncool.”

that wearing chainsaw pants, even if somewhat uncomfortable in the heat, is better than not looking cool while doing tree work, then we might pro- vide sufficient motivation for adop- tion of the PPE or practice. It’s worth noting that the impact of social media influencers and brand image cannot be overstated. When

programs. While the expense to the company can be significant, and may prove prohibitive for some, the bene- fit of proper PPE use must be consid- ered. Safe employees are productive employees, and their ability to work safely affects your bottom line. What about the overheating issue? Manufacturers have prioritized com-

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