Learning from Peers

Learning From Peers

One of my favorite ways to learn is to listen to and interact with peers of mine; those that have gone through or are going through the same issues I am. I feel that done correctly, one can learn so much more from your peers than by researching an issue on your own or simply attending a seminar with one speaker offering only their knowledge/opinion to the audience. 

However, learning this way takes practice and must be done with intent to be successful at it. Below are my four tips to conquering how to learn from your peers:

Prepare – As with most things in business, being prepared is critical. Whatever you are attending; a conference, networking meeting, webinar workshop, take time beforehand to create questions that you want to ask others. This is especially important if the event you will be attending has a facilitated roundtable discussion. Jot down the issues you want help with so you can get your questions answered during the discussion

Contribute – Givers Gain. I truly believe in that statement. The more that you offer and contribute to the success of others, the more you will benefit personally. It may simply be from the satisfaction of helping someone else, but that positive energy will bring great things to you and your organization. However, a word of caution on this; don’t contribute with the sole purpose of your betterment. People will sniff out this insincere attitude right away and you won’t get the gain you had hoped. Be genuine with your intent to help others and you will prosper. 

 Respect – Don’t be like our politicians today. If you disagree with something that someone says, respectfully allow them to have their opinion and leave it at that, especially in front of other people. If their viewpoint could potentially cause unsafe or dangerous consequences, find a private time to talk to that individual alone and ask first if you could talk to them about it as you want to learn why they feel that way. In a non-confrontational setting, you both may be able to learn and help each other out. Basic respect for your peers is easy to do and will propel your ability to learn from others. 

 Connect – After the event, seek out another attendee that you enjoyed listening to and make a one-on-one connection with them. Perhaps schedule a call to follow up on a question that you had or to simply turn a colleague into a friend. Most of you will agree, that this is definitely the most rewarding part of attending events and building relationships in business. Yet doing this intentionally, will build your roster of unofficial advisors, confidants, and friends. Who wouldn’t want a stable of people to turn to for help within their business?

If you are looking for opportunities to interact and learn with your peers, seek out your local ISA chapter, TCIA and continue to follow ArboRisk, as each of these organizations have plenty of ways to learn from others. Personally, one of my favorites is ArboRisk’s Become Extraordinary Workshop, where you get 5 weekly topics to discuss amongst a small amount of tree care owners and leaders.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Driver Training

Driver Training For Tree Care Companies

Let’s face it, one of the largest exposures to risk within your tree care company comes from your trucks being on the road. To lower that risk, you must look at managing your fleet and your drivers, with the latter being perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you face.

In the past we’ve discussed ways to test your drivers before they drive one of your trucks on their own. In case you missed that weekly tip, you can access it here (Driving Tests). The next step after you have a baseline of each driver’s skill is to develop a training program so they can continually improve their skills. A driver training program should be written down and contain clear progress goals that encompass training from both internal and external sources.

Internal Training – Most tree care companies deliver driver training to their employees directly and do so only during their tailgate safety meetings. While this is a great way to provide some training, the tailgate meetings may not always be planned out too far in advance and could miss some crucial driver training topics. So I encourage you to create a more systematic internal training program. Use these questions when developing it.

What driver training topics do you already cover within your tailgate safety meetings?

What are some of the most common near misses that your company has when it comes to operating vehicles?

Who in your company would be proficient in teaching the driver training?

External Training – You most likely will not be able to cover all driving training topics with in-house instructors. This is when you need to look outside of your organization. Including training programs put on by outside vendors offer many benefits to your company and can really help lower your driver exposure. Because there are many different options, use this list of questions to help select the proper training vendors.

What type of driver training topics are your current team members not capable of delivering, but are important to your company (think defensive driving, roadside emergency preparedness, etc.)?

Are there local driving schools in your area?

Can you take your vehicles to use during the class?

Bettering your driver’s skills on the road will help you dramatically reduce injuries and accidents, lower insurance premiums and increase your profits. For help with instituting a driver and fleet management program within your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Also, we are hosting a Driver & Fleet Management webinar on October 2nd, 2020 along with Streamside Green and Victorian Gardens. To sign up visit this link. In case you read this after the webinar is over, contact us directly and we can set up a time to discuss this individually.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Know Your Crew

Importance of Knowing Your Crew

If one of your employees acted dizzy, shaky, and confused, would you just assume they had a few too many the night before and tell them to work it off?

However, if you knew this employee is diabetic and knew that these are symptoms of low blood sugar, you’d be much more concerned and would take appropriate action.

This is just one example of the importance of knowing your crew when it comes to serious health concerns.

Although most non-fatal tree worker incidents are due to trauma, there are also incidents related to illnesses and medical conditions. It’s important that you and your crew members are not only aware of any serious medical conditions fellow workers have, but also know how to properly respond to emergencies that may arise as a result.

Two common chronic medical conditions are diabetes and allergies. Both conditions can require prescription medications, so it’s important to know about the condition and make sure they carry the medication with them.

A person with diabetes may exhibit symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar. Since low blood sugar occurs when the person doesn’t eat enough food for the energy they are exerting, this is likely to be what happens with tree workers. Symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness, confusion, dizziness, headache, excess sweating, excess hunger, irritability, and pale skin.

Diabetics should always carry with them sugary food and/or drinks in case they experience low blood sugar. They may even carry glucose tablets that are made specifically for treating this condition. Co-workers should know where these are in case the person needs help getting them. If the person becomes unconscious, call 911 immediately and do not force food or drink.

Someone with severe allergies can experience anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, when exposed to an allergen such as certain foods, insect stings, or plants like poison ivy. Anaphylaxis includes swelling of the airway and a sudden drop in blood pressure, both which are life threatening. Always make sure anyone who has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector has it with them, that crew members are aware of the allergy(ies), and that crew members know where the auto-injector is kept and how to use it.

Because of the critical nature of anaphylactic shock and because a second reaction called biphasic reaction can occur as long as 12 hours after the initial reaction, you should call 911 and get to the nearest emergency facility even if epinephrine has been administered and the person seems “fine.”

These and other conditions and how to respond to them are covered in your first aid/CPR training that is required by ANSI Z133 – 2017 Safety Requirements, section 3.2.5. Keep current with your training and “Know Your Crew!”

Written by: Margaret Hebert

Why Insurance is NOT Risk Management

Why Insurance is Not

Risk Management

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Video by Mick Kelly

“I practice risk management. I buy insurance.”

It’s staggering how many times I hear that phrase and unfortunately it is equivalent to “crown raising is a great structural pruning method.”

Simply put, insurance is NOT risk management. Insurance is a part of a successful risk management program, but should never be considered to be your entire source of risk management. Just like crown raising may be a part of the structural pruning, it is by far not the only aspect to properly pruning a tree.

There are five steps to the risk management process and, as an arborist, you subconsciously use these steps every day in the field. Sadly, because many tree care company owners are not programmed to consciously think about these five steps, they miss some of these steps when looking at their own business. This article is meant to help you apply the risk management process to your business so you are not left relying solely on insurance to protect all of the hard work you’ve put into your business.


1. Risk Identification – It starts with understanding the potential risks: what could possibly go wrong? The identification of potential risks can be done a number of ways; a few examples are by using checklists, surveys, or interviews with employees and other industry professionals.

As an Arborist – The visual inspection of a tree and surrounding property to determine what equipment you need for the job and what potential problems you may incur when working on that tree.

As a Business Owner – Think about your physical property, liability concerns to other people, your internal team and the business’ income to identify where the exposures are in your business.

2. Risk Analysis – For each risk that was identified, what is the likelihood of it actually happening and how severe of a situation will it cause? The frequency and severity of your risks will help you understand where to spend your time and money in preventing these risks.

As an Arborist – Based on the particulars of the job, you begin to set up the jobsite in your mind. How will you minimize damage to the lawn and set up the work site? Which tree needs to be worked on first to have the project go smoothly?

As a Business Owner – For each of the risks that you have identified, ask yourself, if this happened, how much would it impact my business? Making a Risk Map, where you put Severity on the top and Frequency on the side, will help you focus on the risks that will disrupt your business the most.

3. Risk Control – Once you know the likelihood and potential severity of your exposures, you need to create a plan to control those risks. Each risk can be addressed either by avoiding it all together, retaining the exposure or assuming the loss yourself, reducing the loss by trying to prevent it from happening, or lowering the impact by being prepared before it happens and transferring the risk to someone else. Spoiler Alert: Insurance doesn’t come into the picture until you want to transfer your risk to someone else!

As an Arborist – Before you start your job, conduct a job briefing with your crew, discussing all of the particulars of the job. That briefing is the risk control method of preventing an accident from happening by talking everything through before you start the work. It also serves as a way to reduce the impact of an accident by being prepared before something happens. If weather conditions change you can stop the job and avoid an injury or accident from happening. These are all examples of Risk Control techniques that you use every day.

As a Business Owner – Your goal is to minimize the risks to your company at the optimal cost. Installing or strengthening your safety program is a great risk control method. Creating a hiring and recruiting plan to employ the very best employees can limit the potential for employee issues or lawsuits. Understanding your company’s financial strength and where you can self-insure or retain the small things that come up everyday is critical in this step.

4. Risk Financing – We finally get to the point in the process where we talk about insurance! The decision as to how the risk will be paid for is made. Do you want to assume the risk and control it some way or do you want to buy insurance?

As an Arborist – You either decide what extra equipment or labor is needed to get the job done safely, or you decide to assume the risk of something happening with less crew members and/or not the right equipment. Your decision can be influenced by the availability of your insurance coverage and deductibles, however, whichever way you decide to perform the job is an example of risk financing.

As a Business Owner – When looking at your Risk Map, most tree care owners are willing to self insure or assume the financial risk of the low severity incidents. Anything that is in green in the above chart typically is self insured. The yellow and red items are things that pose a greater risk to your business’ overall financial health. Insurance is purchased for these risks.

5. Risk Administration – The last step in the risk management process happens after all of the planning and decisions have been made and when the plan is implemented. Part of this step is also to assess the effectiveness of your actions to improve upon your overall plan in the future.

As an Arborist – You perform the job and take mental or physical notes on how to do the job better in the future. These personal experiences are crucial for minimizing your risk on similar jobs in the future.

As a Business Owner – You begin to implement the plan by focusing on the largest impact risks first and what to do with them. Then move to lesser exposures that your business faces. All the while you want to assess how you are doing in each area in case you need to make adjustments.


Focusing on true risk management within your business will give you the ability to confidently plan and budget for the uncertainty as well as become more profitable because you have reduced the cost of accidents and injuries. Insurance should be part of this process, but should NOT be relied on as the only method of risk management.

Because working with tree care companies is all that we do, contact ArboRisk to have one of our team members help you create a solid risk management plan. Also, check out our New Heights Thrive Risk Management Package – this structured program can help grow your business and take your company to new heights!

Your Role Before the Paramedics Get There!

Your Role Before the Paramedics Get There!

The accident happens, the victim is rescued and down from the tree.  Now, you are waiting for the ambulance to arrive; you have already gone to the truck to get the First Aid kit.  Upon opening the First Aid kit you discover there is nothing in there to help your victim.

We, as an industry, need to re-think how the First Aid kit is stocked. This article is meant to help guide you when setting up your First Aid kit to ensure you have the right pieces to save a life before the paramedics get to the scene.

In addition to the traditional bandages, gauze and medical tape, your First Aid kit should also contain:

  • At least two tourniquets
  • Israeli Bandages
  • Compressed Bandages
  • Nasal Trumpet (nasopharyngeal airway)
  • SAM Splint

All First Aid kits on the truck should have these materials, however, it is also a good idea for a climber and a ground person to carry a small personal First Aid pouch with them whether in the tree or on the ground.  The climber can carry it attached to his climbing harness with a carabiner and the ground person can carry one hooked to his belt with a Velcro strap.

The aforementioned tourniquet can be used with one hand for the climber to apply.  It will take practice, but when you sever an artery, you will be glad you learned how to use it.  With a severed artery, you have less than four minutes to survive.  You know it is going to take longer for a rescuer to climb up the tree to retrieve you and descend with you than four minutes. Carrying a tourniquet as a climber could possibly save your life!

For the ground person, saving a crew member, having the tourniquet on your person rather than running back to the truck to retrieve the first aid kit saves time and possibly a life.

The Israeli Bandage and compression bandages are another great item to have in your First Aid kit on the ground person’s kit. They can be used as a tourniquet or compressed bandages for the head, chest, arms and legs.  Compressed bandages can be used to help stop bleeding for gaping wounds.

The nasal trumpet can be used to create ease of breathing. All you must do is cut the tube of the nasal trumpet to the person’s nose length and then firmly insert.

The SAM splint is used to treat broken bones and possibly create a neck brace to lessen mobility so the rescuer can bring the victim down.

Personalizing your own First Aid kit to include anything that you think might be an advantage for saving your crew member’s life is an important part of taking safety seriously. Remember you are the first responder and if you are well prepared it might save your or your crew member’s life.

Because training is required for most of these life-saving methods, we would encourage you to contact our ArboRisk Thrive Consultants, Dawn Thierbach or Margaret Spencer, to sign up for one of their upcoming Trauma Classes.

Written by: Dawn Thierbach