Tim Walsh, in First Group to Earn CTSP, Still on a Quest for Safety

Timothy Walsh was in the first class to gain TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential in 2006. He is one of the few who have kept the certification for these last 15 years.

“I’m excited to still be involved 15 years later and proud to have been in that first class. I felt very fortunate to have that opportunity,” says Walsh, now corporate safety director for The Davey Tree Expert Company, an accredited, 49-year TCIA member company headquartered in Kent, Ohio.

TCIA’s CTSP is the only safety-credentialing program in the tree care industry, and is designed to address several challenges that tree care companies face to help nurture a safety culture.

Walsh pursued the CTSP credential because, “It seemed like a natural thing to do,” he says. That was after 25 years in tree work, pursuing his doctorate in ergonomics and safety at UMass in Lowell, Massachusetts, being involved in safety, health and training and even working a stint for TCIA as staff arborist.

A Davey crew on the job. CTSP training helped Tim Walsh focus more on adult learning. Photos courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company.

“When this opportunity came up, it was the next thing I could see as a way to improve safety, not only for those in my company but also in my industry,” he explains.

The CTSP training helped him on a couple of fronts, he notes. It encouraged him to review his knowledge and skills around safety and training and to focus on adult learning. Although Walsh had a lot of education in arboriculture (bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and a master’s from UMass Lowell), he didn’t have a lot of training in teaching.

“With the program’s emphasis on how to teach adult learners, that really helped improve my abilities in how I performed my job.”

At Davey, with its systems in place after 142 years in business, “It’s helped me make improvements where they were needed,” he says.

As far as taking the CTSP course itself, “I really enjoyed learning with other folks in my industry, from different-sized companies and different perspectives. Learning from others in the class really stood out for me.”

His recommendations for TCIA regarding the program going forward? “Try to get as many folks through the CTSP program as possible. The more people who have gone through this, the greater the positive impact for them and that company and the entire industry.”

Roy Montan, left, senior regional safety specialist with The Davey Tree Expert Company, conducts safety training with staff.

Meanwhile, Walsh is working with one of his doctoral advisors, Dr. John Ball, to collect data for research on the ergonomic efficiency of different climbing systems to reduce fatigue. “We feel there is a link between fatigue and injuries and incidents,” he says.

Touching on the leading cause of serious accidents in tree work – struck-bys – he points out the shift in the view of safety. The old view, he says, was to blame the employee, i.e., “The employee shouldn’t have been standing there. The employee should have known better.

“The goal now is to build systems that have resilience and capacity, so if a piece drops before it is ready, the crew has had a discussion about the drop zone, and when no one is in the zone, then no one gets hurt.”

The quest for greater safety is ongoing for this CTSP.

Want to learn more about becoming a CTSP? Click here!

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