J.P. Domhof had been in the safety field for more than 15 years, in uranium mining and construction in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. Six years ago, he joined Kitsaki Vegetation Services, which specializes in powerline right-of-way (ROW) clearance, and decided to seek TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential.
“I thought it would be beneficial professionally to learn about the tree care industry outside of our company,” notes Domhof, Kitsaki’s safety manager.
The CTSP program trains arborists in the skills needed to promote and teach safety to other adults, so they in turn can promote a culture of safety back at their workplaces. Domhof learned of the credential through the company’s general manager for Kitsaki Vegetation Services LP, who had been taking part in a program for utility vegetation management, in which many references to TCIA and the CTSP program were made.
The credential is not well known in Canada; in fact, Domhof is one of only two people in the province, and 45 in all of Canada, to have it. TCIA needs to promote its programs more in Canada, he says, adding, “Many companies from Canada could benefit.”
One of the CTSP’s major benefits is teaching safety leaders how to train workers with a diverse set of learning styles and values. That resonates for Kitsaki, which is managed by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, part of the Woodland Cree Nation, and has been managed by the band since 1981. The La Ronge Band is the largest Cree First Nation band, or government, in Saskatchewan, with a population of more than 11,000 members.
“We work provincewide, and one of our goals and objectives is to hire local people when working near a First Nation community. We generally have new hires work alongside our experienced workers to ensure all comply with our safe work practices and procedures. The farther north you go, the more they are all indigenous communities, but with different cultures and different values. For example, some companies don’t like herbicide spraying, so being able to explain the value of this and to make sure everyone understands is important,” he says.
Also, “It’s important to make sure your message is being understood by all the workers, and sometimes it takes that one-on-one to do so, and that is what our company is willing to do.”
When projects are busier, in the summer or mid-winter, 50 to 60 employees make up a team, the average being 40 employees.
“Often, for chain-saw workers, we bring in an outside trainer to do a three-day course to certify the crews. When we go to a community where we are going to be working and where we will need 10 to 20 workers, we ask the community to get them certified, and we will go and hire those with the certifications when they are ready to go,” he says.
The work can be challenging. Some areas are very remote and only accessible by helicopter. Crews have to hand slash with chain saws and brush saws, because mechanical equipment cannot access the area due to its remoteness, rivers, lakes and extreme terrain.
Domhof says he has benefited greatly from having his CTSP certification. “It’s just a good way to identify that we’re a professional company and we’ve got professional management, and that we take safety as a number-one priority on our projects,” he says.
Click here to learn more about the CTSP credential.