Three years ago, IBEW Local 1245 hosted the first convening of the Tree Supervision Roundtable — a coalition of line clearance tree trimmer contractors, representatives from utilities, and rank-and file-members of Local 1245’s “Keep the Clearance” (KTC) peer safety committee – with the goal of improving communication and safety for IBEW 1245 tree trimmers.
Early during its formation, IBEW 1245’s “Keep the Clearance” (KTC) peer safety committee noted that tree trimmer supervision knew little about the union’s peer safety program, and often balked at giving members time off to attend program functions. The Roundtable was formed to better explain to tree companies and utilities what KTC peer action was, and how that action translated into safer workplaces.
Davey Tree managers Alan Finocchio and Larry Abernathy, as well as Abinesh Prasad of Trees Inc., were early proponents and participants of the Roundtable, bringing several attendees to each meeting. Over time, the Roundtable has taken a more mature form, with the active participation from utilities such as PG&E, SMUD and recently Modesto Irrigation District vegetation management. Utilities have been quick to step up when invited to attend Roundtable meetings, and their attendance has greatly improved the quality of the safety dialogue. PG&E vegetation managers Bob Bell, Pete Dominguez, Joel Smith and Eric Craft, along with SMUD manager Kurt Keller, are regular attendees who work to improve safety awareness and offer options from the utility perspective.
On January 31, 2017, the Roundtable held its first convening of the year at Weakley Hall. The KTC committee members in attendance were JP Paredes from Davey Tree and Nick King with Family Tree Service. Tree contractor participants included representatives from both large and small tree companies, including Davey Tree and Trees Inc. on the large side, and Family Tree, Mowbrays, Pacific Coast and Arbor Works on the smaller side. The variety of contractor attendees enables the group to review safety procedures, compare incidents and brainstorm solutions.
Local 1245 KTC committee attendees take the minutes for the meeting, provide Close Call (Near Miss) reports, identify field safety or equipment issues, and offer feedback to the companies that they may not hear directly from their own employees. As the host of the Roundtable event, KTC provides the agenda and a portion of the subject matter on the agenda.
The January 31 meeting featured special guest speaker Gary McIver of the Cal/OSHA consultation service, who spoke to the group about the tree crew inspection program and answered questions from the Roundtable participants.
The Roundtable also reviewed the nine serious injuries that occurred in 2016, seven of which were struck-by incidents, with one resulting in a fatality. As a result of that report, and at the suggestion of the union, a task group is being formed by Roundtable members in order to review the incidents and suggest actions to be taken by utilities and tree companies.
For additional information about the Roundtable or Keep the Clearance peer program, contact IBEW Business Representative Rich Lane at 209-202-9492 or firstname.lastname@example.org