The Safety Award

The TCIA Safety Awards confirm your commitment to safety. Did one of your employee's safety precautions prevent a serious accident? Did he teach a fellow crew member how to do something in a safer way? Perhaps he assisted in an aerial rescue operation. Add prestige and credibility to your company name and his career – nominate him and/or his crew. They deserve recognition, and so do you!

The TCIA Safety Awards recognize exemplary action in two areas. The Outstanding Individual/Crew Performance award recognizes an individual's or crew's heroic reaction to an emergency situation. The Outstanding Company Contribution award recognizes a member's proactive program to address safety issues.

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November 1

Winners are announced at TCIA’s annual Winter Management Conference.

Current winners - 2013 Company Awards

TCIA recognizes Vine & Branch’s continued program, “There’s Always Time for Safety!” – which includes several initiatives, namely: a Hazard Tree Recognition public awareness, Tree Inspection Program (TIP), their Visual Tree Assessment Program (V-TAP) as well as their Safety, Training and Personal Wellness Program. The latter is a brand new initiative for 2013. For this program they created a schedule and brought in a series of speakers for one- to three-hour classes.

Lucas Tree has long held safety as a core value, with active participation in safety and health initiatives a condition of employment. They aspire to what they call, “Target Zero,” which is a zero incident mind-set. To achieve their objective, Lucas has adopted several measurable goals, using key performance indicators to track progress. They strive for a 20 percent reduction in OSHA recordable events, and they attempt to determine the root cause of every accident or incident through weekly supervisor conference calls. In 2013 they welcomed eight new CTSPs to the ranks so that they now have a total of 40 on staff. This gives them a ratio of 12.5 employees per CTSP. Measurement of other key performance indicators is accomplished through random inspection of 25 percent of their work sites per quarter, random audits of 25 percent of pre-job briefings per quarter, and an aggressive near-miss reporting program, by supervisor and by division, with over 3,000 reports year-to-date. Lucas has recertified its fleet and logistics division under the Maine SHARP program, and is in the process of certifying its residential services division.

Owen Tree Service constantly strives for a better safety culture with its 50 employees, using a variety of tactics and resources. In June its efforts were tested by a surprise, random MIOSHA inspection. The compliance officer took a day and a half to comb through every facet of Owen Tree’s operation, from files to its facilities to its crews in the field. But the staff at Owen Tree includes four CTSPs, 13 certified pesticide applicators, and 10 certified arborists; as well as staff with other professional credentials such as TRAQ. In the end, MIOSHA could only find fault with one fire extinguisher with an out-of-date tag, a problem that was instantly abated. He remarked that he’d only had one other business fare better in an inspection, and that business consisted of 12 office workers.

Arborwell is recognized for two separate initiatives. In the first, its HR, Safety and Marketing departments joined forces to develop an internal marketing program directed at employees, with the purpose of recognizing individual accomplishment and with the overarching goal of promoting the company’s culture of safety. Its first effort was honoring its Aerial Rescue All-Stars, top performers in each region from a rescue trainer workshop held earlier in the year. The All-Stars were featured on a poster displayed in the company’s seven yards and sent to each all-star’s home.

Arborwell’s San Jose regional manager Kris Yamaguchi wanted a new way to remind his field crews of the importance of safety on a daily basis. He devised a project in which employees’ children were to draw pictures of their fathers performing their jobs safely. The compelling illustrations were displayed on large poster boards in the San Jose yard, but were also turned into a calendar for all Arborwell employees.

TCIA recognizes Bartlett Tree Experts and Arboriculture Canada Training & Education, Ltd. jointly for the work that Gareth Tudor-Jones, Bartlett’s safety coordinator in Canada, and Dwayne Neustaeter, owner of Arboriculture Canada, have done to promote arboricultural safety in British Columbia. Throughout 2013, Gareth and Dwayne worked to educate members of WorkSafeBC on the correct arboricultural climbing practices in accordance with industry safety standards. This effort included multiple meetings and demonstrations in which both Gareth and Dwayne demonstrated each type of industry-accepted climbing system and technique to members of WorkSafeBC in order to help correct WorkSafeBC’s misinterpretation that all climbing activities required spurs and other forms of outdated equipment. The result has been nothing less than a change in the manner in which safety is viewed and enforced in British Columbia.

Current winners - 2013 Individual and Crew Awards

TCIA recognizes individuals or crews within its member companies for exemplary performance in the area of accident prevention or acts of heroism.

The first honoree is an employee of Lewis Tree Service, nominated no less than three times by four separate people. Considered collectively, the nominations certainly depicted an exemplary employee. Christopher Towerton, a crew leader in Virginia and Florida, was nominated by a member of his crew and his general foreman for his efforts to be a better safety leader, and for training he conducted at quarterly safety meetings. He was lauded by another employee for his ability to conduct incident investigations and training. Finally, he was nominated by the manager of a primate sanctuary for his care and concern, starting with how he handled the notification; also evidenced by how work was conducted.

Don Libby, a Lucas Tree foreman with 30 plus years, is recognized for his perceptiveness and quick thinking that saved a customer’s life. Don responded to a utility request to remove a storm-damaged tree from a home. While conducting the pre-job briefing, he noticed there was a generator running in the garage of the residence. Out of concern, he knocked on the front door but got no response. Peering through the garage window he saw the homeowner and his dog lying on the garage floor, having succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. He called 911 and opened the garage door. Paramedics arrived within minutes and were able to revive both man and dog.

Collectively the crews of Wright Tree Service had an eventful year. We wish to recognize six of them.

In Harrodsburg, Kentucky, general foreman Joey Williams and work planner David Tabor were on the scene of a motor vehicle roll-over. They blocked traffic with their own vehicles on either side of the accident scene, and assisted rescue crews with the successful evacuation of the two crash victims.

Foreman and equipment operator Darryl Sizemore came to the aid of a property owner when his ATV flipped over and pinned him. The property owner had just finished showing Darryl how to access the right of way with equipment when Darryl heard him yelling for help. The ATV had overturned in a deep ravine. Darryl lifted the machine off him and carried him to safety.

In March, another Wright crew intervened in an unsafe situation. Scott Lay, Adam McClain, Joe Pewitt, James Miller, Matt Fox and Loyd Brinkley were assigned to remove a large oak that had fallen, taking out the cable and phone lines and damaging poles. There were slack, but energized, power lines overhead. A cable crew arrived and attempted to free the cable lines, placing themselves at risk from the precarious high-power lines. The Wright crew intervened and prevailed, avoiding a serious situation.

In April, another Wright crew intervened for safety. Wesley Carter, Kyle Lagow, Cole Soper, Scott Cross, Jason Lagow and Wyatt Parker were working along a highway in an area of heavy construction. They witnessed a large dump truck, with its bed raised, snag on a three-phase line and snap off a power pole. The electrical fault started a large fire on the ground. The Wright crews directed traffic and kept some would-be fire fighters safe from the electrical hazard.

Early one August morning, Wright safety supervisor Ben Isbell, general foreman Brian Smith and trimmer Garrhett Gretzinger came across the scene of a car accident where one car had run a red light and been T-boned by another. They directed traffic, disabled a car horn that was stuck on and preventing communication, and assisted uninjured passengers out of the area.

In September, Wright’s John Pentecost and Nathan Jones made national news when they helped rescue a disabled Boulder, Colorado, resident from his flood-ravaged home. The two were responding to outages when the desperate homeowner flagged them down. The victim’s home was surrounded by water and mud. The Wright employees helped carry the victim to safety. A picture of the rescue appeared on the front page of the New York Times and several other prominent papers.

We recognize a Townsend Tree Service crew working in New Bern, North Carolina. Crew member Angelo Williams noticed a woman walking near their work zone stagger and fall to the side of the road. He immediately went to the woman to evaluate what had just taken place. Angelo was immediately joined by Townsend employees Brian Holden and Patrick (Blake) Daniels. Upon talking to the victim they determined that due to the hot weather, exercise and the fact that she was wearing a plastic garment designed to increase weight loss, she was overcome by dehydration and heat exhaustion. Being well trained in symptoms of heat-related illnesses, they managed to get her safely off the road and into the shade, and gave her water. Once the victim indicated that she was feeling better Brian and Patrick made sure that she was able to get home to her family/friends.

The N.G. Gilbert (Townsend) crew of Clinton Bozarth, Mike Leonard, Dustin Hinman, and Robert Hilliard was working on a job for Southern Illinois Power Company when they saw an ATV going down the road at a high rate of speed; not too long after that they heard a crash. The foreman and apprentice ran down the drive and found the ATV on its side, lying on a 6-year-old girl. Inside and trapped were five more girls. Without hesitation Bozarth and Leonard lifted the vehicle off the little girl and upright. Mike ran and called 911 then returned and found the little girl wandering around. He told her to sit down, and she just crawled into his lap. Clinton called Hinman and Hilliard, who were a short distance down the road, to help. They gave their all to help the girls. It took 10 to 15 minutes for help to arrive. The men were very upset. The 6-year-old was air lifted to St. Louis with skull fractures, a broken jaw, and many more injuries. The others girls were injured as well.

Nelson Tree Service nominated four individuals or crews.

Daniel Sanders walked into a back yard to investigate tree work that he was assigned to address. In the process, he noticed the smell of natural gas. Instead of ignoring the issue, his “questioning attitude” was triggered and he investigated and concluded there was a gas leak in the area. He immediately notified the homeowner, asking that they stay inside and keep the kids away from the area. He secured the area and then contacted the local gas company. When the gas company arrived, a leak was indeed found, and they thanked Dan for his prompt actions.

When safety director Kevin Forgue stopped for a quick meal in New Brunswick, New Jersey, he had no idea how his presence at that restaurant would impact a man’s life. As he finished, Kevin heard one server tell another to call 911, and saw a group of older people gathered at a booth in the back of the restaurant. He walked over and saw an older gentleman slumped down in his seat. It was clear he wasn’t breathing. Kevin acted quickly and automatically, directing the others to help get the man out of the booth and onto the floor. “I gave him a few chest compressions and he immediately responded,” shares Kevin. “He was out of it, but conscious and breathing.”

James Collins, Jr. and Ron Woodcock were traveling to work when they came upon a car that was in the ditch with steam coming out of the engine compartment. As they drew close, they saw a deer had gone through the windshield of the car. They found the female driver badly hurt with the windshield broken out and the deer lying on her. She was non-responsive so the two men lifted the deer off of her and called 911. They stayed to comfort the victim until the ambulance arrived.

On December 6, in St. Louis, three Nelson crew members were pruning trees on a section of electrical circuit. Employee Geoff Bandermann was approached by any elderly woman carrying groceries, and she asked him if he could help her get the groceries to her apartment. Geoff helped her walk through new-fallen snow. Once inside the woman sat down on the steps. After a brief rest, she asked Geoff to help her up. Leaning against the wall, she mumbled and then passed out.

Geoff ran out of the building and alerted his foreperson, Chris Curia, to call 911. Geoff returned to the woman, followed by employees D.J. Aubuchon, Darrell Liggett and Billy McCuen. Billy determined the woman had a weak pulse. Chris soon arrived on the scene, still talking with 911. Billy began knocking on doors to see if anyone knew the woman, and Darrell ran outside to flag down EMTs. Employees Anthony Hodges and Dennis Browers made sure the general work area remained secure. Paramedics soon arrived, praising the crews for their quick life-saving actions.

On August 30, an Arborwell climber was seriously injured as a result of a fall from a palm. The climber inadvertently cut the climbing line that was being used for his false crotch, causing him to fall about 45 feet to the ground. According to the victim, his fellow crew members saved his life. Crew leader Jairo Salgado’s emergency response training kicked in and he calmly activated EMS, keeping the victim calm but awake.

The Wachtel Tree Science & Service crew of Ryan Rodefer, Nathan Schuettpelz and Cody Austin were about to depart their first job of the day when a Fed-Ex truck backed into the neighbor’s driveway. Ryan and Nate  heard something and saw the Fed-Ex employee, Shane, rolling on the ground in front of his truck. The victim told them that he thought he broke his leg and, in fact, he had.

While Ryan called 911, Nathan jumped into the Fed-Ex truck and secured the emergency brake to make the scene as safe as it could be. Ryan gave the 911 operator their information and a phone to reach them and hung up to help care for Shane.

Nathan went to the Wachtel truck and grabbed chain saw chaps and jackets to help keep Shane warm and comfortable. They supported Shane’s injured leg with Nathan’s lunchbox to keep the leg from moving. Cody retrieved a pair of wheel chocks to further secure the truck. To help paramedics find the scene, Ryan took the Wachtel truck to the beginning of the cul-de-sac and turned its hazard lights on.

When help arrived, Nate helped carry the back board, and Ryan helped get Shane on the board and into the ambulance. After they left, Ryan helped the police officer get the Fed-Ex truck out of the driveway and into a safer spot within the cul-de-sac.

Deputy Sheriff Andrew Weber of the Waukesha county Sheriff’s department said, “I see a lot of events where people do not help other people. In a case like today where a group of people went out of their way to help a stranger and care for them, I feel the need to recognize that act. I was very impressed with the actions that the crew took to protect and comfort Shane.”

Past winners

Review our archive of past Safety Award winners.