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Making Risk Real

Posted by Beth Lay, Director of Safety and Human Performance on Oct 21, 2020 12:37:00 PM

“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.”

Making Risk Real in Utility Vegetation Management

At Lewis Tree Service, we are dedicating considerable time and resources to learning from our stories. We’ve started proactively seeking stories of close calls—in particular those with serious injury potential (SIP). We’re collecting these stories in our safety app, sharing them on our safety calls, and utilizing them in our weekly tactical tailgates. And we’re finding that it’s surprisingly easy to get our craftworkers to engage in storytelling when we ask questions like:

  • What experience do you always share with a new teammate? 
  • Tell us about a time when you almost got hurt to the point where it scared you?
  • Tell us about a time when you noticed something was “off” and you were able to prevent something bad from happening.
  • Where do you believe our next accident will happen?

When designing our tactical tailgates for craftworkers around a particular story (e.g., struck-by, drop zone, friendly fire, working aloft), we’re ensuring that we put the audience in the workers’ shoes so they can fully imagine being in the same situation. We’re building questions into the tailgates like, “What about this situation might make a problem more likely?” and “What do you think happened next?” After the event is revealed, we discuss what surprised us, what lessons we learned and our own, similar experiences.

We’re taking control of our stories to make risk real in order to transform our safety culture.

“Everybody has a story to tell, we just need to provide an opportunity to tell it.”
Lewis GF

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of the UAA Utility Arborist Newsline

Topics: culture of learning, creating safety, managing risk, serious injury potential, making risk real, storytelling, tailgates

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