Eric Wilson, director of environmental health & safety for Monarch Landscape Companies, a five-year TCIA member company headquartered in Los Angeles, California, graduated from TCIA’s CTSP (Certified Treecare Safety Professional) program in July 2006. That makes him one of the first to obtain the credential, and he has maintained it all these 15 years.
“I saw it as an opportunity to better my understanding of what goes into creating a successful safety program, and to build upon the ideas our organization already had in place,” says Wilson.
The CTSP program aims to provide tree workers with a well-rounded education in safety concepts – in the areas of leadership, hazard identification, incident control and prevention and adult learning – and the skills needed to effectively communicate those concepts on the job site.
“I was introduced to several different concepts around safety culture that I still use on a regular basis, 15 years later, some of which included leadership buy-in, employee engagement and an effective training program,” says Wilson.
Leadership buy-in starts at the very top, he notes, adding that a company’s president and/or CEO has to support the program 100%, and should have expectations that leadership and operations do the same. At the field level, “You create that employee engagement through activities such as stretch-and-flex programs, training, job-site inspections, involvement in safety committees and incentive programs,” he explains. A successful training program “covers many different aspects of the job. It’s conducted in a language and manner that employees understand, it uses both classroom and hands-on activities and it encourages participation from the students. The training also is documented and kept on file per state and local requirements.”
Training aids include the hands-on demonstration of tools, such as chain saws or chippers, Wilson notes. They include physically showing individuals what to look for when inspecting their climbing equipment. They also include diagrams of different knots or techniques used in climbing.
A few examples of training sessions Monarch conducts in its 40-employee tree division include advanced static-rope-system (SRS) climbing techniques, work positioning while aloft in a tree, equipment operations – for things such as aerial lifts, chippers and chain saws – aerial rescue, EHAP, first aid/CPR and plant health care.
Wilson first received the credential when working for the former ValleyCrest Landscape Companies. His current employer, Monarch, serves greater California, Colorado, Washington, Texas and Oregon.
“I learned a lot from the program, but one aspect really stuck with me, and that is the importance of building a training program that fits the needs of your workforce. Know your audience and build a program based on their strengths. Use training aids and enlist the help of tenured employees whenever possible,” he says.
“I believe one of the most memorable parts of the program was being in a room with so many like-minded leaders with the same goals and passion for protecting their workforce. It was great to see companies and their leadership who were willing to invest in their programs and their people,” says Wilson.
Click here to learn more about the CTSP credential.