Documenting Safety Efforts
Written by Eric Petersen, CIC
One of the common hangups that tree care companies have regarding safety is how to document their efforts. All too often, the owner feels paralyzed by what they think they need to document thereby preventing them from documenting anything. I want to simplify it so you can start documenting the safety and training efforts that you are probably already doing and set you on a path to be able to build a better safety and training program within your company.
But first, why do you need to document safety and training efforts within your company? The answer is quite simple. You, as the owner of the tree care company, have a responsibility to create a safe work environment for your employees.
Now creating a safe work environment for an arborist can be quite the challenge with new or multiple worksites each day, a tree care company has a lot less control over the work environment than a plastics manufacturer where all of their work is being done inside four walls. In fact, you will never be able to create a work environment that is completely void of all hazards, however, that is precisely why training your employees on a regular basis is really the only way that an employer can attempt to achieve that goal. Documenting the training that has been done is your way to prove that it happened.
So, in my opinion, there are three types of crucial safety documents that every tree care company must have. I should mention that obviously, the more training and documentation you have, the better, however, if you are just starting out with documentation, focus on these three types:
1. Written Safety Program Signature Page – If you don’t have a written safety program (or Injury and Illness Prevention Program as it is called in some states), get one right away, either from your insurance agent, TCIA or any of the other online resources out there. This obviously establishes the safety protocols for your company. All written safety programs should have an acknowledgement or acceptance page that each employee signs to confirm that they were given the document and were trained on it. This is the number one document you must keep in each employee file from a safety and training perspective.
2. Initial Training/Onboarding Documentation – Your written safety program should also include a list of training topics for a new hire. Often referred to as orientation or onboarding, this initial list of training topics guides the tree care company on what to train the new hires on. After each employee has gone through a training topic, have them and their supervisor sign a document to be kept in their employee file stating the following:
- When the training was done
- Name of the individual being trained
- Who the trainer was
- Topic of the training
- Where/how the training was performed (in-person, on the job, online, etc.)
- Any additional follow up training required?
- Signatures by employee and supervisor/trainer
3. Ongoing Training Sign-in Sheets – The third type of documentation that you should have within your tree care company would be proof of on-going training. This training can happen in a number of ways, but is done after the initial onboarding training. Examples of ongoing training would be, Tailgate Safety Meetings, All Company Safety Training Days, Specific training like Aerial Rescue or First Aid/CPR, etc. For each of these training events, make sure to have sign-in sheets that list the same information above for the Initial Training. These sign-in sheets are typically kept in a Company Training File as they will be focused on a group of people and not one specific individual.
Again, the more documentation that you have from a safety and training perspective the better, however, if you have been unsure on what to document, start with these three types of documents. If you would like help developing a stronger safety culture within your company, reach out to a member of the ArboRisk team today to begin our Thrive Safety Package. We will work with you one-on-one to improve your safety culture no matter where it is today.