40 Years – Maintaining a Culture of Safety at CVTS-L

Man in red shirt and helmet talking about helmet training

When CVTS-L was founded by George Pogue Sr. in 1978, he already had more than 20 years of experience in the tree care industry. While a mentor helped George Sr. navigate the business and customer service side of things, George Pogue Jr. was taking it all in. Once the reins were handed over to him in the 1980s, Jr. was blessed to ride off the coat tails of George Sr. and launch forward promoting modern commercial arboriculture techniques and a culture of safety. Now, a new generation of tree care workers has emerged to carry on the torch, and we are encouraging them to seek every opportunity to do it well!

Evan Brumfield – Certified Tree Care Safety Professional

We are proud to announce that Evan Brumfield has recently completed the Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) program offered by the Tree Care Industry Association. Even though Evan has only been on staff with CVTS-L for three short years, he has already successfully obtained his ISA-Certified Arborist credential, his Maryland Licensed Tree Expert credential, as well as his Certified Pesticide Applicator License. Brumfield’s CTSP credential not only strengthens but continues to solidify the company’s commitment to safety. Brumfield is the third member of the CVTS-L team to complete this training.

Aaron Feather – CVTS-L Safety Director and Certified Tree

 Care Safety Professional

Aaron Feather, Safety Director

As CVTS-L’s Safety Director and a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional, Aaron Feather knows that maintaining multiple

CTSPs on staff is of great value when recruiting and training young arborists. Not only is there a national shortage of arborists, but the ones who are out there desire to be linked up with companies that present opportunities for constant training, equip their staff with high-quality gear and keep their equipment and vehicles in safe working condition. A company’s intentional investment into these areas reinforces to their employees the company’s commitment to safe practices in all arboricultural operations.

Learning Safety by Teaching

Not only are CTSP candidates required to complete a study guide, attend a two-day training workshop, and pass a rigorous exam, but once certified, they must put their skills to use, engaging in a minimum of 30 hours of instruction to other tree care workers, or to forego the teaching opportunity and choose to receive an additional 30 hours of training for themselves. Re-certification takes place every three years and documentation of the instruction or training is necessary.

Of course, Evan Brumfield particularly favors the instruction option, explaining that the ability to teach a skill to others is one of the best ways to learn the skill yourself and demonstrate mastery. In fact, his most memorable time during the CTSP two-day training workshop involved a teaching exercise between himself and another CTSP candidate. The candidates were partnered up and given a task to complete. The first order of business was for each of the candidates to identify the task and its many segments, and then develop a lesson to teach someone else how to effectively complete the task. The CTSP program heavily focuses on developing methods to convey complex concepts to adult audiences, which helps tree care workers communicate with each other – as well as customers – to ensure safety and clarity in the field.

Learning Safety from the Past

“I am lucky to start out where I am now,” said Brumfield. “Every generation that moves up learns from the generation before. My generation is coming into this industry starting where we are now, and we’re just going to go forward from there.”

The newest generation benefits directly from advances in technology such as SRT climbing systems and cranes where previous generations relied on brute force and ego.

“My generation focuses on how to use the crane, how to use equipment and be smart and savvy about it,” he added. “I’m curious where my generation will take it.”

Maintaining a Culture of Safety

One thing that has been consistent at CVTS-L has been a commitment to maintaining a culture of safety, which means more than just going over a checklist. A culture of safety has to be deeply ingrained in every employee as a matter of habit.

“It’s not just about having rules or identifying each individual problem that could cause injury,” said Brumfield. “It’s about listening to that little voice inside that says maybe this isn’t right. When you hear that voice, you need to ask questions or pick a different method.”

He added: “We’re stepping back and assessing the situation. There’s a second set of eyes. It takes cooperation between the person who performs the initial assessment and the foreman who arrives at the site ready to work. Both people need to sign off on it.”

Certain things are hazardous – always have been, always will be – but how it has been approached in the field has changed over time. It can be a bit of a learning curve for people who have been doing it a certain way for years, but for the new generation, it’s just how it’s done.

Brumfield draws from the old adage: “A smart man learns from his own mistake; a wise man learns from other people’s mistakes.”

However, by becoming Certified Tree Care Safety Professionals, we hope to maintain an ongoing culture of safety so we can learn the valuable lessons and avoid the mistakes entirely.

About the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)

Founded in 1938, TCIA is a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture. It has more than 2,000 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance. With access to the latest and best safety standards and training, the typical TCIA member company has 50 percent fewer accidents than a typical non-member. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

For more information about the Tree Care Industry Association, visit www.tcia.org.  For more information regarding the Certified Tree Care Safety Professional program at TCIA or to obtain digital photos, contact Peter Gerstenberger or Irina Kochurov at (800) 733-2622 or email peter@tcia.org,ikochurov@tcia.org