The Key to Accident Prevention

The Key to Accident Prevention

Written by Amanda Carpenter and Anthony Tresselt

Originally published in the July 2022 edition of the ISA Ontario Arborist

The hierarchy of controls is a system of controlling risks in the workplace, a prevention through design strategy for prevention and/or reduction of occupational injuries, illness, and fatalities. Despite the best designed and applied control solutions, there is an independently acting human being that is involved in every workplace injury. Human behavior is the one thing that cannot be eliminated, substituted, engineered or controlled to create safety on the worksite. The person is most often forgotten in risk control hierarchies.

In the arboriculture industry, a lot of focus is put on regulation and technical training.

These administrative and engineering type controls can and do help, but alone they are not the total solution. For instance, the ANSI Z 133 has been in existence since 1968. As a consensus standard, it is updated at regular intervals by those in the industry. Yet the incident rate for occupational injuries still remains high compared to other industries. The same can be said for technical or skills training. Advances in tools and techniques have been progressive, the number of individuals in the industry providing quality training has increased, yet the incident numbers as a whole remain high. 

What regulation and training cannot take into account is the human. Even new, top of the line tools and techniques can be used poorly or misaligned. Highly articulated and crafted regulation with the best intent still must be followed by those doing the work to have any effect.

When, as an industry, we look at the incidents in arboriculture, we see again and again how misuse of well-designed tools, misapplication of well-established techniques, and/ or disregard for industry best practice leads to death and injury. This, coupled with tens of thousands of hours of one-on-one patient interaction with an orthopaedic physical therapist for occupational related injuries, leads us to the observation that many injuries could NOT have been prevented with more safety training and engineering.

 While a vital part, safety training is just one part of the system.

 Without an understanding of how and why humans act, training loses effectiveness. The worker must choose the safe act, the safe tool, the safe technique. There is a human involved in every accident or near hit. The subcon- scious nervous system is in charge of the human’s thoughts and actions 95% of the day; therein lies the key to a safe worksite and meaningful reduction in incidents.

Safety training involves establishing or changing a behavior. When we train or teach, we are speaking to the analytical part of the brain. However, access to training in the moment of a true emergency is not possible for some on this analytical level. It lies behind the gate-keeper of subconscious patterns that are formed from prior experiences, many of which occurred in the first 7-8 years of life. When choice is involved, the human brain will rely on established patterns and appear to resist change. Breaking these established patterns for new, safer ones, is an involved process that takes awareness, patience, and time.

 This process of behavioral change cannot be regulated or engineered.

Forced compliance is short term. Procedure can only serve as a guideline for action. The impetus of action, choice or decision must come from established behavioral patterns. This is easily seen in the all-too-common faulty logic on the tree care job site of, “we have been doing it this way for years and haven’t got hurt yet.” Often said or implied, this attitude shows the basic human reliance on pattern and the reluctance to change.

Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many production arborists make a conscious decision to ignore hazards and use technique known to have high risk of injury. Or conversely, they choose not to take actions known to protect them when engaged in hazardous activity.

Luck or hope is not a safety strategy.

The number of times an “unsafe” act has not resulted in dire consequences does not reduce the hazard. Yet many use this as a justification for not using personal protective equipment, established procedure or new techniques. The best tools and regulations can and often are short circuited by human behavior.

Some humans are more tolerant to change than others. The predictability of change tolerance is often found in the story behind one’s eyes. What has been one’s prior life experience with change? Has life thrown several unexpected and unfortunate changes at them? Did life throw a single pain- ful experience at an early stage of life, which set a pattern in their nerv- ous system resulting in their need for consistency?

 People make changes for one of two reasons, out of desperation or out of inspiration.

Desperation becomes a catalyst for change. Acute pain gets one’s attention; it screams and demands that something be done NOW. While chronic pain is an underlying, low-grade discomfort that allows one to put it off, the voice of chronic pain says; “I can’t keep doing this” or “I can’t keep living like this.” Yet, most often a change is not made until the body takes one out with an acute injury or illness. Why is this? The answer lies in the understanding of the autonomic nervous system.

Humans have a pattern of life, learning and adaptation, a rhythm that becomes familiar and predictable. This pattern, whether healthy or not, becomes recognized by the autonomic nervous system as normal and is perceived as safe. Anything that veers from this pattern can become a trigger; a stimulus that results in an underlying stress response in the body similar to fear. This pattern is exactly why change is so difficult. There is no reasoning this experience, it occurs instantaneously in the body at the subconscious level. You cannot rationalize an irrational response.

In injury prevention, safety training alone often does not create a long-term change in behavior, but the injury itself can be a catalyst to change.

It is not the fear of injury that keeps people safe, rather their ability to tolerate behavior change. For example, a tree care worker has developed a habit of one handing a chainsaw, (a behavior that incident numbers tell us causes many injuries on the tree care job site). The behavior is restricted by legislation as well as manufacturer instructions. Despite legislation and instruction, that pattern is very difficult to change. However, an injury creates an acute pain, often resulting in an immediate change in behavior.

 An expert is born from the internal emotional response that can only occur during a real experience.

Many safety trainers share their personal story to inspire others to behavior change related to hazardous actions. The story of pain, expressed through the authentic  vulnerability of another human can also become a catalyst of change for others. The emotional connection and response that occurs through authentic storytelling can support the behavior change we are hoping for in safety training. Proper technique, rules, and regulations cannot spawn the same type of long-term change housed in the subconscious.

We believe the key to worksite accident prevention is in transformation of the human nervous system, which involves both the person in the mirror and a supportive, vulnerable team willing to hold each other accountable and learn through shared experiences. When skillfully done, human behavior can be changed through transformation, creating a safer worksite and world.

If as an industry we wish to make long term, lasting change, we must address not only training, and industry regulation, but the third hidden factor of the worker and how he or she makes choices. We must come to understand the vital role subconscious patterns (healthy and unhealthy), the autonomic nervous system, and the story behind the eyes of the people doing the work, all play. Failing to do this is akin to claiming a flat tire is fine as it is only flat on the bottom!

Developing individuals and leaders to see and recognize the cognitive dissonance created when familiar ideas and/or beliefs are challenged or proved ineffective can and will transform this industry. But like the very problems we wish to address, it begins and ends with the individual human. We as trainers and facilitators need to take part in and develop a better understanding of the human factor in all we do as arborists, climbers, sawyers, crew leaders and business owners.

To learn more about Amanda and Tony’s transformational coaching program Leadership Performance Mastery: Uncovering the Leadership of Vital Energy, visit their website at https://www.leadershipofvitalenergy.com/

Safety Happens at the Individual Level

Safety Happens at the Individual Level: Q&A With AManda Carpenter

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC and Amanda Carpenter

Like many in the tree care industry, I have been very fortunate to have become friends with so many passionate people who want to help make the industry safer. One of those friends is Dr. Amanda Carpenter. Amanda’s enthusiasm for helping arborists make it home each night comes through in every conversation she has. She has dedicated her professional career towards helping businesses truly create a culture of safety and helping the leaders of the organization understand that safety happens at the individual level. 

I recently had the chance to speak with Amanda and get her insight on this concept and how tree care companies can implement true change within their safety culture. 

Q: You’ve often said that regulation and training alone will not change the safety outcomes of the tree care industry, focus needs to be put on individuals and how people respond to stressful situations. How does a tree care company begin to train or focus on the individuals within their team and their stress response?

A: Human behavior is at the root of safety, and it can’t be engineered. How humans act and react is a result of the wiring of their autonomic nervous system as uniquely wired as the electrical in each house. Previously human behavior was most often trained using fear and focusing on what not to do. However, when we focus on what not to do, a picture becomes anchored in memory. Much like telling you not to think about a red car….. The nervous system is wired for reaction based on experience and memory, so we must train and learn from a place of how we want to respond. Safety is best when memory is accessed in a regulated nervous system. A tree care company can begin to train and focus on supporting a healthy nervous system for its individuals by creating a grounded, psychologically safe work environment. This all begins with the most powerful leader in the organization.  


Q: A lot of tree care companies discuss near misses during a safety meeting, however, you have mentioned that it could actually create the opposite effect within their team unless the discussion is handled appropriately. What is the best way to discuss past accidents and near misses?

A: Much like the example of not focusing on a red car, when we discuss what could have happened while the nervous system is in a heightened state, the memory that it actually happened gets anchored. This can cause a PTSD type response in some individuals and instead of learning from the near miss, fear and anxiety now interfere with the individual’s ability to work safely. The key to learning from an accident or a near miss is to discuss in detail only once the nervous system has come back to baseline, which requires at least 12 hours.  

Additionally, an individual who shares a near miss story, must be brave and comfortable enough that they know they will not be reprimanded or ridiculed. Listeners must support the individual who is sharing and if anyone responds, they must embody emphatic energy towards helping the individual and learning from their sharing. The nervous system reacts to thoughts and feelings, not just words, so the key here is that each individual and the organization must hold a core belief that it is ok to make a mistake.  


Q: What other tools can a tree care owner use to further their focus on individual stress response training

A. We want each individual to be aware and manage their stress response and recognize how their reaction impacts themselves and others. Creating safety cultures with authentic core beliefs is a great place to start. Safety cultures that have a ‘zero tolerance for accidents’ or ‘no injury is acceptable’ mantras are diminishing the safety effort rather than enhancing it. When an employee does not have room to make a mistake, the increased stress on their nervous systems can result in a greater number of mistakes that go unreported and covered up.  

People make changes for one of two reasons….from a place of desperation or a place of inspiration. In the safety world, we want to inspire change to prevent a desperate moment, which ultimately could be severe injury or death. This inspiration must come from the most powerful leader. I’m not talking about inspiring a culture of safety through an incentive program, rather shifting the energy of workers to be safer because the company cares about them. Tree care company owners must fully commit to everyone on their team and begin to build a culture of acceptance, understanding and camaraderie towards each other, including themselves. The leaders must also consciously acknowledge the subconscious limiting beliefs inside their organization, such as “you’re weak if you ask for help” or “just suck it up and move on”. The most powerful leader sets the tone of culture, so the limiting beliefs of that individual need to be discovered and dissolved for an organization to thrive in an authentic culture of safety.   


For more specific, one-on-one training, Amanda has a great Transformational Leadership Coaching program to help leaders understand their own limiting beliefs and then be able to discuss it throughout the organization. 

Lastly, make sure to check out the March 2023 episode of The IndusTREE Podcast to hear a half hour conversation with Amanda that digs into this topic at much more length. 

Amanda A. Carpenter is a transformational leadership coach specializing in the science and practice of human performance. To learn more about Amanda’s transformational coaching program Leadership Performance Mastery: Uncovering the Leadership of Vital Energy, visit her website or watch this short video.

Crane Capacity Explained: Knuckle Boom vs. Telescopic Crane


Written by Hans Tielmann

When it comes to tree removal, having the right equipment can make all the difference in the world. Two types of cranes that are often used for tree removal are knuckle boom cranes and telescopic cranes. Both have their own unique features and capabilities, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this blog post, we will compare knuckle boom cranes that are measured in meter/tons to US ton telescopic cranes and how they relate to the tree care industry.

Knuckle boom cranes are a type of crane that uses a series of articulated joints, or knuckles, to bend and move the boom. These cranes are typically measured in meter/tons, which refers to the length of the boom and the weight it can lift. Knuckle boom cranes are known for their flexibility and versatility, as they can reach into tight spaces and move in multiple directions. They are also relatively compact, making them easy to transport and maneuver on job sites.

US ton telescopic cranes, on the other hand, are a type of crane that uses a series of telescoping sections to extend and retract the boom. These cranes are typically measured in US tons, which refers to the weight they can lift. Telescopic cranes are known for their strength and stability, as they can lift heavy loads and maintain a steady position while doing so. They are also relatively large and heavy, making them more difficult to transport and maneuver on job sites.

In the tree care industry, both knuckle boom cranes and telescopic cranes have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Knuckle boom cranes are ideal for tree care professionals who need to reach into tight spaces, such as between buildings or under power lines. They are also great for working in urban areas where space is limited. On the other hand, telescopic cranes are ideal for tree care professionals who need to lift heavy loads, such as large tree sections or move heavy equipment. They are also great for working in rural areas where space is not an issue.

Let’s wrap it up! both knuckle boom cranes and telescopic cranes have their own unique features and capabilities that make them ideal for different types of tree care work. Knuckle boom cranes are great for reaching into tight spaces and working in urban areas, while telescopic cranes are great for lifting heavy loads and working in rural areas.

Ultimately, the choice between these two types of cranes will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the tree care professional.

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How to Hire a Digital Marketing Firm

How to Hire a Digital Marketing Firm

Written by Katie Petersen

Are you thinking of outsourcing your social media and marketing to an outside digital marketing agency? 

The decision to do so is a big one, and is not something that should be taken lightly. This agency will have full access to your business and a direct line to your customers – so you want to ensure that the company you do hire understands your business, your message, your voice and continues to uphold the marketing standard that you have created for your business.

Many of these agencies can actually help your company. They understand marketing and can bring fresh ideas and campaigns to your team. They can help grow your business quicker and will give others on your team time to focus on other projects. 

On the other hand, if you do not research effectively, you may get stuck with an agency that over promises and under delivers. They may not effectively get to know your business and thus result in a loss of revenue as opposed to a surplus. 

To ensure that you are choosing the best digital marketing agency for your business, follow these simple steps:

1. Determine What You Need

What are you looking to accomplish by hiring a digital marketing agency? Do you need help with your social media? Do you need assistance with email marketing or creating a funnel for your customers to move through? What about a website re-design or help with SEO? Figuring out what you need help with first will help you determine what to look for in a digital marketing agency and how they could help your business. 

2. Look for an Agency that Knows Your Business

You wouldn’t want to have brain surgery done by a car mechanic so why would you hire a digital marketing agency that doesn’t specialize in your industry? Treat your first meeting with an agency like an interview. Ask them questions specific to your industry. Ask for examples of previous work they may have done. Make sure that they understand what your industry is first before you commit to working with them. If they seem too good to be true, unfortunately, they probably are.

3. Are The Tools and Reporting They Use Effective?

What does this agency use to enhance your marketing and how do they keep you abreast of what is going on with it? Ensure that the tools they are using will give you the results you are looking for. If they promise email marketing, are they using a reputable platform for this? What system do they use to monitor your SEO? How often do they pull reports for you and are these reports easy to digest? 

Knowing what type of information you will get will give you a better understanding of what is going on with your marketing and will help keep you in the loop as to your marketing.

4. Is Their Pricing Fair?

It’s no secret that some marketing agencies will price gouge you and then fail to deliver on promises. Make sure that what they are promising seems feasible within the agreed upon terms. What are they going to be doing for you? Do they have the staff to efficiently and effectively deliver on their promises? What is the timeline for the products that they will deliver on? This is a good one to look into other options for as well. If you know the average price of a few agencies, you can easily tell if one is either too low or too high.

Hiring a digital marketing agency can greatly benefit your business if done correctly. Like any business decision, it is important to do your due diligence and hire an agency that is a good fit for your company. Remember – even if an agency comes highly recommended does not always mean that they will be the best fit for you.

If you have further questions or need assistance with your sales and marketing, contact ArboRisk Insurance and learn more about our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package.


Influencer-Brand Relationships

Influencer-Brand Relationships

Written by Katie Petersen

Think about the last time that you bought a product. What steps did you take prior to purchasing? Perhaps you Googled alternatives, compared pricing online or in-store, or maybe you watched a video from a local personality on Instagram or Facebook where they talked about the specific product and shared the pros and cons of it with you. Based on this information that you gathered, and the trusted voice from the local personality, you then went out and purchased the product. Whether you realized it or not, you had made this purchase as a result of influencer marketing.

Did you know that almost 70% of consumers turn to influencers online when making a decision? Because of this, influencer marketing has seen a definite rise in the last few years. While this type of marketing can seem daunting, this trend may not be going away and is something businesses that are serious about their marketing may want to dive into.

A lot of times when we think of influencer marketing, we think of individuals with millions of followers; but in actuality influencers with a smaller following (<1000) have just as much influence, if not more. With fewer followers, these “micro-influencers” tend to have more engaged audiences that are more likely to take action on products. This brings me to my next question: How could an influencer help impact your tree care company?

When beginning to look at influencer marketing as an option, it is important to decide how you will measure success. Many influencers often have a specific audience, with a specific age and lifestyle choices. Choosing the right individual to help you is crucial to reaching the correct audience that will purchase your services. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this influencer live in my area?
  2. Is their audience my target demographic? 
  3. Is the influencer in question active on the channel (Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, etc.) that will work best for my messaging?
  4. Will their services fit within my budget?
  5. Will they work with me to correctly share my website, services, their experience, etc.?
  6. Will my audience react positively to the form of content used (i.e. video, post, story)?

Influencers are successful for a reason – they know what type of content to promote to get their audience to react. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that giving them creative freedom with your information may provide you with better results. For example, video is still consistently the top engagement content. If you do not currently incorporate video into your marketing, perhaps working with an influencer is one way to reach your audience with this form of media!

When used correctly, influencer marketing can be highly effective. It is also important to keep in mind where marketing trends are headed. There are many ways to reach your audience and influencer marketing is rooted in relationships – if you have a trusted influencer vouching for your product, you are more likely to gain customers that will trust you and work with you again and again.

If you need additional help with influencer marketing or your marketing efforts in general, reach out to ArboRisk to learn more about our Sales and Marketing Thrive Package!

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