In the tree care industry, there’s only one way to ensure that General Tree Care (GTC) workers return home to their families and friends after a busy day on the job – proper training.
Conducted repeatedly and comprehensively, training helps to provide the necessary knowledge for accident prevention while lowering the risk of severe injury.
Mike Tilford, Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) and Director of General Tree Care for SavATree, understands the importance of training and its evolution throughout his career.
“Today, there is better material provided for increased understanding and learning of valuable techniques. While on-the-job training is still a necessary means of learning safe, efficient work practices, there has been a shift in the industry toward conceptual training and academy-style instruction.”
Many training programs – especially ones geared toward safety – are often standardized with the assumption that every student learns at the same pace and retains a predetermined amount of information. But it’s important to remember that training can never be a one-size-fits-all approach.
Tilford says, “It’s critical to figure out what works for your staff. One of my key takeaways from CTSP training was that one needs to know one’s audience. I’ve met many people in tree care who have said they “learn by doing.” But some don’t. Some need to read a document or be shown several times before attempting a new technique or skill on their own. Be aware of their learning needs.”
The industry is certainly aware of an individual’s learning curve. A result is the continual evolution of safety in the field, with new techniques and equipment coming from outside industries, which are then refined and developed for the unique needs of tree care.
Of course, making time for training is always a challenge for industries in a variety of verticals.
In fact, a new study on “The State of Workplace Safety Training” conducted in early 2021 discovered that companies struggle to find time for training, and nearly a third can’t verify if their programs are effective.
“Finding time is easier said than done,” says Tilford. “Regardless of how busy you are, you have to block off time to ensure crew members have the skills and safety training they need. A technical arborist trainee will require a significant investment in time for progressive skills training. We balance practical skills training with conceptual learning topics. It’s essential to build programs so our teams can be both safe and successful.”
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