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Brittleness encroaching: absent leaders and combined teams

November 23, 2020

As COVID-19 spreads, there are an increasing number of leaders and team members absent due to illness, precautionary self-quarantine, childcare, etc. To adapt to this situation, teams reconfigure, and leaders fill in, but ultimately there are not enough people to cover the work and our systems become stressed and stretched.

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Building Adaptive Capacity in Utility Vegetation Management

November 09, 2020

Our work environments are highly variable and include difficult terrains, changing and extreme weather conditions, myriad tree species/conditions, and energized lines

As most reading this can attest, for decades the traditional view of safety in the utility line clearance industry centered around defining and following policies and practices...

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Making Risk Real

October 21, 2020

“I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. It was winter and fresh snow was heavy on the tree limbs as we began piecing down a 50 ft. pine. We were wearing layers of clothing and could see our breath when we pulled our face masks down to talk.”

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My New Favorite Day of the Week: Drill Day!

October 14, 2020

Wednesday, at Lewis Tree Service, is now Drill Day. On Drill Day, we are creating the space to practice simple tasks that have the potential to cause serious injuries. And, as it turns out, we’re having fun in the process. Some of the drills have included a) dropping limbs from heights onto watermelons (with and without hardhats) to see the...

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The Zero Paradox

October 07, 2020

There’s a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein that we’ve all seen, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That perfectly reflects how Lewis approached safety for many years. We made significant improvements in our safety results and then hit a plateau achieving only marginal gains every...

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Scan & Focus

September 30, 2020

Have you ever seen the episode of The Simpsons when Ned Flanders is discussing the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Homer’s brain floats away saying, “You can stay but I’m leaving.” We can all relate. When our brains get bored, we zone out. That’s why, at Lewis, we’re learning a situational awareness tool called “scan and focus.”

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Focusing on Work Zone Safety

September 23, 2020

An interesting pattern emerged when we began analyzing close call data at Lewis Tree Service. When considering frequency, we learned that line of fire—by vehicle—has as much serious injury potential as struck-by, tree-related incidents. Yet, if you studied just our incident data, that picture would not emerge.

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After Action Reviews: Not Just for Safety Anymore

August 04, 2020

In 1907, a children’s book was published entitled, Jim: Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion. Sounds frightening, right? The author, Hilaire Belloc, knew that there are two ways to learn: the hard way, through trial and error, and the easy way, through storytelling and learning from other’s mistakes.

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Using Safety Data to Improve Learning

July 27, 2020

“It was 4:30 in the afternoon on nice, sunny day. Our crew had performed regular trimming on multiple oak trees around a three phase and was stacking brush while getting ready to shut down for the day. One of the crew members went to remove the drop zone cones when all the sudden he heard the sound of a limb slam on the ground. The employee was...

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Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Unprecedented Times

July 15, 2020

Note: This article was originally published by the Resilience Engineering Association.

Asher Balkin is a Research Engineer at the Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Asher has worked in fields as diverse as public health, international security, surgical research, and human/automation interaction.

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