Someone yells, “Cut!”
It’s mid-October, and we’re talking remotely with Carlos Ramirez, who is on site in the Tahoe National Forest in Northern California, east of Sacramento, where he is overseeing field-site safety for P31 Enterprises, Inc.
“That’s the three-way-communication safety protocol,” he explains, making sure there’s a reply when arborists make the back cut, removing the last remaining support when felling a tree. Ramirez apologizes for the interruption. “We had a critical piece happening,” he says. “They felled the tree safely.”
Ramirez credits TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential for moving him into a job with P31 Enterprises, a TCIA member company based in Oroville, Calif., that works mainly for power companies and municipalities, as well as some private customers, for fire prevention, fire cleanup and ensuring access.
Never has this work been more critical. So far this year, 3.3 million acres have burned in California wildfires.
The CTSP credential teaches participants how to be a safety “coach” and to develop and nurture a safe work environment back at their company. It helped Ramirez pivot from general safety auditing to safety-arborist work, first under PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) – which prefers CTSP-credentialed personnel for tree work and signed him up for the CTSP program – then for P31 Enterprises.
“One of the reasons they were interested in me was for the experience and the CTSP training. I felt the CTSP (credential) had prepared me for that role and for these companies. It’s a new industry, the way safety is taking shape with the municipalities and utility companies,” says Ramirez, who says he feels he could be in a prime career spot.
“I enjoyed the arborist-safety work; it’s an emerging trade, new groundwork is being laid down right now, so I saw that opportunity,” he notes.
“In the arborist industry, the people who do this love the work. It does take an adrenaline junky to do this, but we value that, and we want to work with what makes people tick and keep them safe. Because they are very enthusiastic about what they do, the safety aspect has to be interesting, too. I have to keep it dynamic, changing.”
He suggests that the credential could cover more than it already does on effective communication and attitude in fostering a safety culture.
He notes that some of the tree workers he works with have tried other jobs, “but they have found a place here.” It’s a motley crew, from those coming from other jobs to those who grew up in the industry to former prisoners to clean-cut guys, according to Ramirez. “There are a lot of rough edges. You have to be able to communicate to all of them. You have to be their go-to guy, not just the safety police.
“On a personal level, being a CTSP really has helped me. It has opened my mind and validated my objective,” he says. “In pursuing a safety career, I really found my niche.”
TCIA is now offering virtual CTSP training online. For information about the CTSP credential and upcoming workshops, click here.