LETTERS & EMAILS – April 2021

Leave OSHA out of Accident Briefs

I appreciate your effort to broaden the scope of accident reporting for the tree care industry by including information from OSHA inspection reports. But these are of little use without specific details.

A comprehensive listing of all related injuries would probably constitute a journal in itself. The “Accident Briefs” feature is valuable to me, and a “must-read” part of your magazine, because it is a fairly concise reminder of what could, and does, happen to both professional and amateur tree workers, including fatalities, injuries, property damage and near misses.

If readers see incidents related to workers in aerial lifts, for example, they can review their practices and risk-management strategies in that area. If there are descriptions of trees rolling over workers, that can be a focal point for safety reminders and assessments. An undeveloped accident triggering an OSHA inspection is too broad and too vague to be useful.

As a former OSHA employee, I know that OSHA could get notified for a wide range of incidents, concerns and administrative violations. One that requires medical care is usually serious for those involved, but may actually be relatively minor and may trigger an inspection due to administrative reporting requirements.

Publishing descriptive information on OSHA citations and settlements in the industry might be more helpful. Employers cited for PPE, training, equipment or records-keeping violations, for example, could provide a heads up to other employers, encouraging them to evaluate themselves in those areas, or to ask for assistance through OSHA Consultation: https://www.osha.gov/consultation.

A list of OSHA inspection visits by itself provides little information to work with.

P.S. Love the magazine and look forward to reading it each month!

Philip Jacobs
Jacobs Consulting, Ltd
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Philip, we really appreciate your input. We thought that augmenting Accident Briefs with OSHA inspections of employer-reported accidents that resulted in hospitalizations and OSHA “referral” incidents that were serious enough for first responders to be summoned would give our readers a fuller picture of the magnitude of this issue. We appreciate your point that these statistics lend very little to one’s understanding of what is going on out in the field. We will give some thought as to whether we want to continue reporting these numbers and would love to hear from other readers. – Ed.

Great issue!

You guys worked so hard and did such a great job on this issue (TCI, March 2021). I received mine this week! It is just too freaking cool to be recognized (“Bridging the Great Divide: Men and Women Helping Each Other in Tree Care”). Thank you and everyone at TCIA for the platform to be seen!

I’d like to ask a favor of you and see if I can get a copy of this issue sent to my father. He would be so thrilled.

Jacque Fink
Integrity Tree Care, LLC
Colorado and Berlin, New Jersey

Challenges with Spanish article

I read with interest the article “Desafíos que Enfrenta el Trabajador en la Industria de la Arboricultura,” “Challenges Faced by Spanish-Speaking Tree Workers” (TCI, January 2021). I worked for approximately six years at a company whose field force was comprised primarily of individuals who spoke only Spanish, and providing adequate training was a challenge. There was, fortunately, one person who was fluent in both English and Spanish, but communication was still not perfect. Mistakes might be made anywhere along the line of communication, and so, too, with your article.

The first thing that caught my attention was the knot shown in the illustration. In the upper-right drawing it is called “2 Half hitches on a bite,” and the illustration shows a correct rendering of that knot. The drawing in the bottom right, however, shows a single half hitch, not two half hitches. That may seem like a minor mistake, but two half hitches will hold a chain saw securely, while a single half hitch will not.

The second mistake is the spelling of the knot. It should be “2 Half hitches on a bight” (not bite).

Also, although I know very little Spanish, I believe the title is translated incorrectly. It should be “Challenges Faced by Spanish-Speaking Tree Workers in the Tree Care Industry” – not “… and the Tree Care Industry.”

Do you blame the author (who I guess is also the translator), the illustrator or the editor? In the field, blame might often, and erroneously, be placed on the worker. But in my experience, both in the field and in the office, all or several parties bear some responsibility. There is much to be learned from this article.

Mark P. Adams, Certified Arborist
Adams Arbor Care, LLC
Bloomington, Indiana

Mark, We keep it pretty simple here – and blame the editor for all of the above … or below. Although, for the accuracy of the knot illustration, I defer to our experts on staff.

Bite versus bight is definitely the editor’s fault … I’ll call him out for that!

The English header is actually the accurate one – we did clarify his intent with the author, and he definitely wanted it to be the workers and the industry. However, we failed to make sure the Spanish reflected that. Again – the editor.

Thank you for helping us up our game. We will try to do better. Check out the February and March 2021 issues to see if we did.

                                – Don Staruk, editor

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