Florida Regional Safety Summit Recap

September 10, 2015

By Will Nutter, President and COO, Wright Tree Service

This article was originally published in the September/October 2015 issue of Utility Arborist Newsline.

In May, Duke Energy held a Utility Arborist Association (UAA) Safety Summit in Wildwood, Florida. More than 80 participants attended from the region, including contractors and several utilities.

The goal of the Florida Safety Summits is to bring together a group of utility vegetation management (UVM) high-potential performers and develop safety champions and safety programs within our industry. In addition, summits help organizations develop or improve their safety culture. These representatives hold diverse experiences and perspectives, which helps to promote the constructive exchange of ideas and information. Participation and collaboration were well blended at the meeting, similar to past summits. We continuously receive many comments about how open and friendly everyone is, even if their competitor is at the same table.

Topics of the May Florida Safety Summit included:

• At-risk behaviors and shortcuts, non-standard work practices, trending safety issues (hostile customers)

• Crew resources management (CRM) concepts

• Communication skills to manage all of the risks and hazards associated with the environment

• Crew interaction—What do you do when conditions shift? What does a job title mean to crew management?

• Team concepts—courage to accept and give constructive feedback

• Effective pre-job briefing (mitigating industry risks and understanding hazard awareness)

• Driving safely

• Reporting near misses

• Safety incentives

For the first time, a tree care industry association speaker came to the meeting to converse about industry statistics and the impact of the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for the host utility and contractors.

As the summit meetings evolve, so do the agendas. We moved to a “moving agenda,” which constantly changes each meeting based on geographic needs and trends. For example, California prompted major fire risk in January, so our meeting at that time focused on tree crew resources.

The future looks bright for 2016 Safety Summits, with meeting opportunities in Ohio, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. If a Safety Summit could benefit your area, please contact someone on the safety committee or UAA about bringing a summit to your area