During the last two years, TCIA has been making many of its training courses and materials available online, and one of the more recent remote-learning opportunities to go live is the Electrical Hazards Awareness Program, or EHAP. Over the next year, TCIA will transition its remaining training courses for tree workers to a completely online format. Korey Conry, CTSP and a TCIA Qualified Trainer who teaches some of those programs, is completely on board with that.
“It’s so easily accessible on a phone or tablet,” he says of Brightspace, the e-learning platform that TCIA uses for its online programs.
“The limitation, of course, is the missing hands-on part,” Conry says. “Chain-saw training is not something you can just read about in a book and say, ‘This is how you do it.’ Same thing with the chipper-safety, aerial-lift-operations and aerial-rescue courses. You can only teach so much with the virtual part. You have to put your hands on the rope or the chipper, which is why TCIA’s online training uses a blended approach.”
Taking it to the field
Conry speaks from experience. He is a field safety supervisor/trainer with Mountain F. Enterprises Inc., a 14-year TCIA member company based in Folsom, California, that does work for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in California. He conducts onboarding and training with new hires. The EHAP training is a key component in that field of work, he says.
“With the online part, with all that knowledge at your fingertips, you can go way more upscale. You can teach or learn a lot, and all you are missing is the hands-on portion,” Conry says. “The online portion gives the trainees a good baseline. Then, when they go out into the field, the trainer fills in the blanks and saves the crew leader a lot of time.”
Another benefit of the remote learning, according to Conry, is less lost production time, which is especially important for smaller companies that don’t have the staffing to cover an employee’s absence. Plus, there is easy access on a smartphone, so you can learn, for example, while waiting in your child’s doctor’s office. And you have a good reference to go back to.
TCIA Qualified Trainer
Conry recently became a TCIA Qualified Trainer and was eager to join the ranks of other experienced arborists taking on the role of trainer. The TCIA Trainer Qualification course was designed to qualify trainers to teach TCIA’s Tree Care Academy – Career Pathways courses and EHAP. All TCIA online courses capitalize on the dynamics of blended learning using a flipped-classroom model and online learning resources.
A flipped classroom is “structured around the idea that lecture or direct instruction is not the best use of class time. Instead, students encounter information before class, freeing class time for activities that involve higher-order thinking.” (bokcenter.harvard.edu/flipped-classrooms)
To qualify for the TCIA Qualified Trainer course, candidates must successfully complete the 10-module course, score 100% on each exam to be given to the students and submit a complete lesson plan approved by TCIA’s master trainer. Then they can teach TCIA’s Tree Care Academy – Career Pathways and the EHAP courses.
One pre-requisite is holding TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential, which Conry earned several years ago and maintains. He is also an ISA Certified Arborist, an ATSSA Flagger instructor, a CPR instructor, an OSHA authorized trainer and in December 2022 earned his ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) credential.
TCIA recently created a Spanish module for EHAP training. Being a California native, Conry is used to having a workforce be predominantly Spanish speaking.
“Some people get left out or left behind. An employer will hire people, and the new hires will nod their heads and say they understand when they don’t. That is a problem if you are trying to teach them how to use a piece of potentially lethal equipment in a language they don’t understand. Plenty of people I work with speak Spanish only or have a blend of Spanish and English.” But for a minimal cost, you can give them a way to do an online chipper class and receive a certificate, then do the hands-on portions with a trainer like himself, Conry says.
TCIA is currently offering free half- and full-day virtual workshops on EHAP, Ground Operations and Aerial Lift Operations, all funded through an OSHA Susan Harwood Grant.