TCIA Presents Safety Awards for 2023 Operations

TCIA annually presents safety awards recognizing individual and/or team actions that may have prevented an injury or saved a life, and for company programs or directives aimed at improving safety. Following here are the awards presented this year for operations in 2023, including the type of award; the individual, crew members or company being recognized; who submitted the award; and a short description of what each award was for.

Company Safety Award
SavATree, Bedford Hills, New York
Submitted by Ryan Torcicollo, CTSP, safety and skills trainer

In 2023, SavATree implemented two innovative safety practices that stand out. First, every month a new safety topic is drilled down and discussed thoroughly, in addition to weekly tailgate safety meetings. For the first week of each month, crews break down a topic day by day and discuss companywide at morning stretch. Second is SavATree’s new hazardous-tree policy. SavATree no longer allows climbing of any tree with rot and/or fruiting bodies at the base. Currently, with how much equipment the company makes available, there is no point in manually climbing trees where major defects may be present.

Safety Standout Certificate
Paul Lozeau, CTSP, safety director Stanley Tree Service,
Smithfield, Rhode Island
Submitted by Julian Emerich, director of marketing & purchasing

Stanley Tree Service staff feel extremely lucky to have Paul Lozeau, who has become an irreplaceable part of the company’s day-to-day success. Starting out with the company as a ground person, Lozeau rose through the ranks, becoming a climber, bucket operator, crew leader, sales arborist and, ultimately, director of safety & training. The company’s handpicked Safety & Training division consists of staff with, collectively, more than 100 years of industry experience, people who are in the field each and every day, making the industry a better place.

Lozeau has always been a huge proponent of doing the job the correct way, no matter the situation, no matter who is watching. He has developed a company-specific pre-job briefing format, effective three-way communication policies, employee onboarding, electrical-hazard-awareness training, employee competency-evaluation procedures and more to solidify the iron-clad reputation of Stanley Tree Service.

In addition, Lozeau has implemented policies regarding small tools that no other tree service in the area offers. Each truck has approximately $15,000 of equipment on it provided to each employee at no cost. If/when an employee needs an additional piece of equipment or their equipment wears out, it is replaced without question on the spot. It is Lozeau’s belief that, in an environment where an employee has the option to get the equipment to make the job safer or more efficient, they will ask. When this is not an option, workers jeopardize the safety of themselves and their crew and may take shortcuts.

Lozeau has helped curate a measurable sense of “buy-in” from employees. They look to him for advice and guidance for on-the-job and off-the-job issues. He truly epitomizes what everyone looks for in a leader, and when asked why he comes to work each day, he responds, “It’s not just about Stanley Tree, it’s about elevating the industry to a higher standard.” Paul Lozeau is an outstanding person!

Company Safety Award
The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co., Stamford, Connecticut
Submitted by Scott Prophett, corporate safety director

The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co. developed a new digital-signage program to enhance and support safety communications for our field employees in real time. In early 2023, the company deployed Samsung digital-signage devices to more than 150 local and satellite offices across the company – in 39 U.S. states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Bartlett Tree Experts in Johnson City, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Scott Prophett.
From left, Tyler Weddel, Harrison Ruud, Jorge Hoyos and Chandler Tilly with Bartlett Tree Experts in Johnson City, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Scott Prophett.

Before launching this new digital-safety-signage program, Bartlett developed a strategy to first put ownership of the information shared on our MagicInfo screens with each local office. In rolling out digital signage, each local office team was instructed to install their screen in a crew or shop area where production team members congregate. Over several months, each office underwent training sessions on how to publish images, safety videos, safety PowerPoint slides and safety documents.

Our use of digital signage is now providing our local office teams with a powerful communications channel to publish examples of their safe work practices, schedules, safety-training materials, shout-outs for positive behaviors and performance and reminders of safety and work assignments for production team members.

The real power of the screens is the ability for local office team members to show their work to each other. Additionally, the screens provide an outlet for posting office-specific safety alerts, bulletins and reminders, taking the place of unsightly posters and paper-filled bulletin boards.

Bartlett’s safety department, in coordination with its communications department, is using the screens to broadcast timely safety messages and priority safety information to local offices and satellite offices, supplementing the information published by the local office teams. Bartlett’s digital-signage program has provided the safety department with a new channel for communicating safety information with field employees clearly and consistently across the company, fostering Bartlett’s culture and values as a company that places “Safety Above All Else.”

Bartlett’s safety department is finding innovative ways to deliver high-priority, safety-focused messages to the field with visually engaging information that supports and advances company safety goals. QR codes published on the screens securely connect employees to longer documents containing safety information, which can be viewed on hand-held devices. The digital communications program provides a great avenue for sharing work and for providing safety reminders to production teams companywide.

Local office safety coordinators (LOSCs) across the company are now using MagicInfo screens to support the priority messages from their weekly safety meetings in the local offices. Using digital signage, the LOSCs now publish relevant company policies and educational materials for TCIA and ISA as needed to support training programs and safety-awareness initiatives for local office teams. The company’s safety committee is publishing information across the company, listing new gear that has been evaluated and approved or rejected by the safety-committee gear-testing subgroups.

As a result of Bartlett’s use of the digital-signage program, regional safety managers are seeing more understanding and awareness of positive behaviors and Bartlett safety policies. The signage is an effective way to provide consistency and increased awareness of the company’s safety programs, helping operations to work more safely.

Individual/Crew Safety Award
Harrison Ruud, Chandler Tilly, Tyler Weddel
The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Co., Johnson City, Tennessee

Submitted by Scott Prophett, corporate safety director

On August 9, 2023, a four-person crew of the Johnson City, Tennessee, office of The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company was performing pruning and tree care services on a residential property. The team consisted of crew leader Harrison Ruud, climbers Chandler Tilly and Tyler Weddel and aerial-lift operator Jorge Hoyos. Prior to performing the work, the entire crew completed their job-site hazard analysis and job-site safety briefing/planning. The trees were inspected for hazards, and none were seen from the ground during the crew’s walk-around.

Hoyos, with more than five years’ tenure with Bartlett, was assigned to prune a maple tree on the property using the aerial lift. Once secured in the lift, Hoyos moved the bucket to enter the canopy to make pruning cuts. He contacted branches on the outer canopy that hid a small bald-faced hornet nest among the leaves. Hoyos was immediately attacked and stung multiple times, and began swatting the hornets as well as yelling for help. He quickly became overwhelmed and, due to the multiple stings and the attack, was unable to work the controls. He was entering into anaphylactic shock.

The crew heard and saw that Hoyos was in distress and unable to operate the aerial lift’s upper controls. Following aerial-lift rescue guidelines and procedures as outlined in TCIA’s Aerial Lift Operations 2: Aerial Lift Rescue workbook, Ruud lowered Hoyos to the ground. Working together, Ruud, Tilly and Weddel extricated Hoyos from the bucket and moved him to a safe location. There, the crew followed their emergency-response and first-aid training and assessed Hoyos as showing signs of anaphylaxis. He was disoriented, going unconscious and struggling to breathe. Ruud immediately called 911 to activate emergency medical services.

The crew continued to monitor Hoyos’ vital signs and was prepared to conduct CPR and rescue breathing. The crew also placed one of the hornets into a container, which guided medical personnel with proper treatment. EMS arrived within five minutes, immediately began treating Hoyos for anaphylactic shock and quickly transported him to the hospital. Hoyos was treated for severe and life-threatening anaphylactic shock and, after being held for observation, was released to rest at home.

Hoyos later commended his fellow employees for following their emergency-response and aerial-
rescue training. He said that the training required at Bartlett Tree helped save his life. The crew acknowledge that their emergency-response training made it possible for them to react quickly and correctly to a serious medical emergency.

Safety Standout Certificate
Ben Zielke, crew leader Hendricksen Tree Care, Wheeling, Illinois
Submitted by Robert Hendricksen, owner

Ben Zielke, a crew leader with Hendricksen Tree Care, was nominated for his daily commitment to ensure his crew members are safe and act safely during each day’s events. Hendricksen Tree’s last sustained work-time-off incident was with Zielke himself, when he had poison ivy badly enough to remove him from work for two days until the rash went away. At the point that the company nominated Zielke for the award, they had been 1,877 days since a lost-time incident, in part because of Zielke’s keen sense for conducting job briefings and having all crew members be on the same page while work is performed.

Company Safety Award
Lucas Tree Experts, Portland, Maine
Submitted by Gerard Breton, CTSP, safety director

In today’s ever-changing business world, an organizational culture that promotes operational excellence in environmental health and safety holds a powerful competitive advantage. In 2023, Lucas Tree implemented “Safety Weeks” in lieu of in-person safety meetings. Safety-week events refocus and re-energize the company’s efforts to eliminate all incidents.

Safety week is a show of force when all conference calls and extraneous meetings are canceled to ensure engagement with the workforce from owners, managers, supervisors and field safety trainers. The goal is to celebrate and recommit to doing whatever it takes to send everyone home safely every day. Safety-week topics are based on the most frequent near misses. The 2023 topics were Drop Zone Awareness, PPE and Fall Protection, Slip/Trip/Falls, Pre-Trip/Post-Trip Inspections and, last, Telling a Story. For the last one, a fictional scenario was shared with all employees and they were put in the investigation seat. What information could they use to tell the story? What was missing that could have helped tell the story?

2023 also saw the deployment of a learning management system (LMS) with LearnUpon & Open Sesame, and the establishment of Lucas Tree Experts University, with delivery of training to all mobile and desktop devices. This learning includes compliance-management training, field-targeted content development, short informational videos, simplified lessons and testing of knowledge.

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