At West Tree Service, SAFETY is our number ONE priority because it HAS to be. We work in a hazardous environment and our employees are our most important resource. Our primary goal at the beginning of each day is that our employees go home without injury. Accidents are caused by people and the best way to prevent accidents is to “educate and communicate.”
Motto: “Work safely…because LIFE is more important than work.”
“At West Tree Service, SAFETY is our NUMBER ONE priority. It takes precedence over everything else we do.”
–Ford Overton, CEO
Our safety philosophy at West Tree Service is grounded in the belief that life is not just about following policies or procedures; it’s about doing the right thing. We have a responsibility to work safely and promote safety for the benefit of our employees, our customers, and the public we serve.
Because we work in a hazardous environment, SAFETY has to be our NUMBER ONE priority. West Tree Service employees are our most important resource and at the beginning of each day the goal is for everyone to go home without injury. People cause accidents and the best way to prevent them is to educate and communicate.
The safety education begins even before an employee is hired. We have invested heavily in our safety program:
- A team of field safety specialists
- Employee handbooks
- Certification and training programs
- All-encompassing corporate safety manual
Whether at home or on the job, we want all our employees to embrace the critical importance of safety.
Training and Certifications
New employees participate in a new-hire orientation including hands-on and computer-based training on:
- Powersafe Program (how to work safely on the job)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Chipper and chainsaw safety
- Power line and hardware recognition safety
- Emergency aerial rescue
- The Tree Care Industry’s Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (EHAP)
- MSDS and chemical safety
- Fall prevention and fall protection
- First aid and CPR
- Smith Driving Skills
- Clearance order and grounding safety
- Powersafe Program
- First Aid and CPR
- Emergency aerial rescue
- Entergy specific training -
- Transmission and Distribution Baseline Communications Training
- Transmission and Distribution Human Performance
- Clearance Training
Employees can advance to higher paying jobs with more responsibility by completing the certification process. One goal of the certification process is to ensure that employees are able to conduct and complete all tasks in a safe, efficient and productive manner. There are several milestones that can be completed by the employee. The first step in this process is to complete the Ground Person Certification. The employee can then choose between Trimmer, Tractor/bush hog operator, or Jarraff Operator Certification.
Ground Person—The first step to becoming a Certified Ground Person is completing and understanding the Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (EHAP). The EHAP is a self-study program and a test must be completed and then reviewed by the employee’s general foreman. The Ground Person Certification is a detailed process that introduces or reaffirms basic on-the-job training needs for all employees. This training is mentored by the employee’s foreman and general foreman.
Trimmer (Bucket/Climbing)—Before an employee can learn to operate a bucket or climb trees for trimming purposes, he or she must first spend time as a ground person and complete the Ground Person Certification. Trimmer training begins under the direct supervision of a foreman (who is technically qualified and Trimmer Certified) and the general foreman.
Tractor/Bush Hog Operator—In addition to the Ground Person Certification, equipment operators train to perform the specific duties associated with running and maintaining the equipment. These two-person teams must communicate and work well together.
Jarraff Operator—A Jarraff is a valuable and productive machine. A Certified Jarraff Operator may be required to travel and/or be part of a “split shift.” In many work areas a well-trained Jarraff crew can be more productive than other crews, so certifying a Jarraff operator is a high priority.
Foreman—A foreman (Crew Leader) is Ground Person Certified, Trimmer or Operator Certified, and is recommended by his or her supervisor to manage a bucket, climbing, or equipment crew. In addition to a SAFE and responsible attitude, West Tree Service always looks for LEADERSHIP qualities in a foreman.
Full-Time Safety Staff
In order to be proactive in our approach to safety, West Tree Service has made a significant investment in TIME, PEOPLE, and EQUIPMENT over the past several years. We now send specially trained safety technicians into the field where crews are working. Employees are reminded to be safe by reviewing and discussing safety issues relevant to their jobs, tasks and worksites.
Each day that West Tree Service crews are at work, the dedicated members of our safety team are also hard at work. On any given day, our safety specialists will:
- Conduct site safety visits and observations
- Conduct truck and crew safety audits
- Facilitate safety meetings
- Counsel and coach employees
- Provide training
- Provide certification testing
Safety Communication Methods
Each week, at least one Safety or Training Meeting is held in every area. These meetings may be called by West Tree Service management, the area General Foreman, a Safety Specialist, a customer representative or an employee. It is mission-critical to West Tree Service that we provide safety communication on a daily basis, that our team of managers and supervisors lead by example, and that we are responsible, and held accountable, for the safety of our employees.
Additional methods of communicating the importance of safety include:
Sunday Safety Messages – Our Sunday Safety Messages are written weekly by members of our management team and sent to all areas to be shared with the employees. These messages are meant to stir emotions in the employees to begin their thought process about working safely at the beginning of each week, so they can work safely and return home free from injury.
Safety Stand Downs – Once in a while, a method of communication called a “stand down” is used to immediately stop all work and gather employees to hear an important announcement. Sometimes these meetings are held to discuss a recent incident and are used as a “RE-FOCUS” meeting.
Paycheck Mailers – These are simple safety messages mailed out with the paychecks as another “quick reminder” about a safety item that will soon require the employees’ attention. Some of these messages include reminders of:
- Daylight Savings Time changes
- Upcoming holidays and safety during said holidays
- Seasonal reminders (working in heat/cold, etc.)
- School Starting/Ending (watching out for children)