When studying close calls with serious injury potential (SIP), we discovered a recurring pattern. Several of our SIPs were caused by crew members who were using back cuts when other types of cuts would have been more effective. Why? Because they were more comfortable with back cuts; in other words, back cuts were the default cut for their crews.
While we have inroads to make, at Lewis Tree Service our approach to safety and human performance is a combination of operational discipline and adaptive capacity. We train our craftworkers to follow established policies and procedures but also coach them to build the knowledge and practices that will enable them to create safety in highly variable situations.
Example of operational discipline
Follow the protocols to establish a work zone. Employ situational awareness (e.g., slope of land, speed of wind, lean of tree) and a second set of eyes to confirm the drop zone is adequate. Establish communication protocols to ensure no one enters the drop zone without express acknowledgement and permission from the trimmer.
Example of adaptive capacity
In the introductory paragraph, building adaptive capacity would include ensuring all craftworkers had a greater comfort level with many types of cuts—and could pull from a bank of knowledge/tools to best address a given situation. Other examples include roping and rigging (e.g., what knot works best), WHAT ELSE? Trying to remember everything you said this morning!
As Tony Robbins has famously said, “Stay committed to your decisions but flexible in your approach.” Building adaptive capacity is an active learning process that we can all use to create safety.
This post originally appeared as a Sponsor Spotlight in the November/December 2020 issue of the Utility Arborist Association Newsline.