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Gauging Uncertainty

May 27, 2021

What does it look like to relentlessly pursue the elimination of serious injuries? Among other things, it means treating incidents and close calls with serious injury potential like fatalities and conducting thorough investigations.

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Implementing Safety Differently in a High-Risk Industry

May 19, 2021

Surprises are frequent, yet seldom acknowledged nor prepared for in ordinary work situations. Join me and Asher Balkin, Research Engineer at the Cognitive Systems Engineering Lab (The Ohio State University) as we explore the practical application of fundamental Resilience Engineering premises that “surprise will happen” and “work is variable”...

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Right Place/Right Time

May 13, 2021

What are the chances that Lewis General Foreman Bill Pearson would be at the right place/right time twice in one year?

We received the following story verbatim from a utility customer in Florida:

“While driving in Port Charlotte today, Bill was randomly flagged down by a customer who informed him of a concern he had with a palm he was trimming...

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The Value of Mining and Sharing Close Calls

March 17, 2021

In early October, the flagger for a Lewis Tree Service mowing crew noticed that a gas line shared the corridor on a utility right-of-way. The general foreman conducted a pre-job walkthrough with the crew. The terrain was uneven, slippery, covered in thick brush and, in it, they found debris from an old railroad. As the general foreman came...

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Changing Our Safety Conversations

January 18, 2021

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...

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Using Adaptive Capacity to Create Safety

December 15, 2020

When studying struck-by close calls, we discovered several recurring patterns. Commonalities in some of these close calls were crews working in remote areas who seldom asked for help, and over reliance on break cuts when other types of cuts would have been more effective. Why? Because crews were more comfortable with break cuts; they were their...

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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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