What stories do the cuts on your chaps tell? Next time you ask field leadership to inspect chaps, say, “Tell us the story of what happened.” Or place damaged chaps in front of crews and ask what they think happened. After they take turns guessing, tell the actual story. What are their stories? What makes kickback more likely? What actions do they take to avoid kickback?
When we mine these stories and probe the extremes, we engage our senses and get to the emotions which embed memories. And as we pass along these stories conversationally, we learn from others and build collective memory increasing the odds someone will remember and prevent a similar incident in the future. We’re also changing our conversations to model learning. Next time you need to take a vehicle out of service, ask, “What pressures will you face as a result of not having this truck available?” This paves the way to learn about pressures that push us toward riskier positions (i.e., drift), address concerns, and develop solutions.
When a harrowing close call is shared, thank the team for their transparency. Stress to them, “I loved hearing about this close call. Let’s make a big deal out of this. This was a gift – a lesson we can all learn from.” The way we treat others shapes our safety culture.
Join us in creating safety.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of the Utility Arborist Association Newsline.