As educational coordinator and a crew leader for Heartwood Tree Service, Bill Hickman is grateful for earning TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) certificate.
“The benefit for me personally was the focus on adult education and learning to better educate my peers, not only in my crew but throughout the organization,” says Hickman.
The program is designed to teach tree care workers to be safety “coaches” and to develop and nurture a safe work environment at their company. Heartwood, an accredited, 25-year TCIA member company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has seven CTSPs out of its 50 employees. It clearly sees value in the program.
“There was a heavy focus not just on the modes of learning but how to really reach across multiple methods to try to get information out as effectively as possible to a variety of different individuals,” Hickman says about exploring visual, hands-on and auditory learning during CTSP training.
The program also helps in advising clients. By and large, the community forest within Charlotte is aging out, with really big and old trees, Hickman notes. “Every time a strong wind comes along, a tree such as a big willow oak falls, and clients look at theirs that is even bigger and they immediately make a phone call to say the tree is going to fall on the house and needs to come down.”
Hickman says, “You never say a tree is 100% safe, but you can say this tree has a lower likelihood of failure for these reasons.” The CTSP credential helps him understand and relate to the customer that, “I’m not looking at this from an emotional point of view, I’m looking at this from a scientific and analytical point of view. This is the best information you can use to make that decision,” he says. “Keeping the tree benefits all of us. It contributes to the community property.”
To help the company’s seven CTSPs gain the ongoing CEUs the credential requires, Hickman encourages them to develop their own training sessions using the extensive safety material he has helped develop. Recorded sessions on topics such as chain-saw safety, for example, allow the trainers to develop new material from the pre-existing point, building on what was already covered, so it’s not always the same information being presented – something everyone appreciates, Hickman notes.
The company runs about 10 crews that are spread out among satellite offices, so safety material everyone can refer to has proven invaluable, especially for new hires.
“The heart of the CTSP program is developing individuals who can be better tree stewards. The safety culture is not just an idea, it’s something that needs to live and breathe in the moment. It’s going to be beautiful or it’s going to be horrific. You’ve got to keep safety front and center and push that mentality on your people. Mistakes happen during those lapses in judgment when you’re just not thinking. Keep your head in the game, keep it safe.”
For information about the CTSP credential and scheduled upcoming virtual workshops, visit www.tcia.org/ctsp.