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Learning From What Goes Well

Posted by Beth Lay, Director of Safety and Human Performance on Sep 27, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Human Performance Learning Vegetation Management

Have you ever been on a job site where no incidents were occurring, but unsafe practices were present? Take a moment to think about that and let it sink in.
Accidents may represent a lack of safety, but a lack of accidents does NOT represent safety.

At Lewis Tree Service, we track OSHA recordables and incident rates as lagging indicators, but we know they do not tell the entire story. Because of that, we’re redefining safety by its presence—not its absence—and learning how to improve safety by studying situations where it is present. By learning from what goes well, and from teams who excel, and applying those learnings, we will continue increase both safety and productivity.

As utility arborists, our work environments are complex and highly variable. Surprise will happen. Seemingly healthy ash trees may be riddled by EAB presenting extreme danger to a climber. A tiny limb may brush a wire in poor condition and explode causing an outage. An inexperienced worker may enter the drop zone to drag brush and be directly in the line of fire. Unfortunately, the possibilities are endless.

Industry-wide, we need to adapt to a wide variety of uncertain situations while ensuring that the number of successful outcomes in these varying conditions is as high as possible. It’s not enough to prevent “something bad” from happening; we must also make sure that “something good” happens often. In our new view, safety is achieved by making sure that as much as possible goes right.

We encourage everyone who reads this to ask their workers routinely what they need to work safely, reliably, and productively. The answers may surprise you.

Topics: culture of learning, human performance

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