A Focus on Site Safety

Jessica Cofer Blog

One of the services that NATS provides our clients is Site Safety. Our boots on the ground Safety Audit Team (comprised of Safety Professionals) works alongside field level craft workers and management to help find the best solutions to complex situations.

To better understand Site Safety and how NATS’ services benefit our clients, we checked in with Dan Groves, site safety director and lead instructor with nearly 30 years of arboriculture experience.

How Site Safety Differs From Training

“Site safety is quite a bit different than training because we’re out on someone else’s working job site,” explains Dan. “We [NATS] integrate with their team, follow their rules, but also have them follow all the industry rules.”

Dan says that the first order of business is to figure out the rules of engagement: what the client is trying to do, and what they see as gaps and concerns to be addressed. From the start, NATS Safety Professionals strive to build relationships at all levels, from the on-the-ground team to management.

“We earn the right to be there, build trust, and approach crews from a level of compassion first, then build on compliance,” says Dan. “Our goal is to help people.”

NATS’ Site Safety Team Qualifications

About a dozen arboriculture professionals with “a ton of experience” are on NATS’ Site Safety team. Dan says that to be a part of the team, each member is required to have at least five years of experience, “…but honestly, I don’t know anyone close to that; they’re all way higher.”

One qualifier to be on the Site Safety team is the requirement to complete NATS’ OSHA 30-Hour General Industry course so that team members can navigate the compliance sector as a regulatory body, and know how to identify violations. They must also complete NATS’ Electrical Hazard Awareness Training so that they are qualified to be in the field with utility crews. The training ensures that consultants understand not only what the team on the ground should be looking for in regards to hazards, but the infrastructure, too.

Another requirement is NATS’ Empower the Educator course.

“The program [Empower the Educator] not only has a component to it where it teaches you something about a skillset, but it also introduces new team members to our culture,” says Dan. “The most important component to Empower the Educator is actually learning people skills: how to talk to people, deal with people, diffuse stressful situations, and correct actions in a calm manner.

“It’s a really important program, and our team has to go through that before they go out into the field as a Safety Professional. It’s all about building relationships.” Dan continues.

“We want our people to be empowered to go out there and successfully navigate the challenges they may come across in the field.”

Navigating the Landscape

Dan says that one of the interesting components of being a Safety Professional is that there can be a lot of challenges to navigate.

“We could get deployed out to a city, town, or a state that we’ve never been to before,” he says. “You roll out the door, show up on the job site, and don’t know anyone.

On a Monday, you may roll up on a job site with a crew in a bucket truck and they’re trimming tree branches along power lines. There are certain skillsets and regulations that have to be followed, so you have to be able to adjust to that. When doing tech work, there are regulations that need to be known and followed.

“The next day you may be hiking two miles back into the woods and taking down big trees along some big remote power line, and then it’s a totally different work,” he continues. “On another day, you might be doing crane and chainsaw work. It’s really diverse, so our team has to have a lot of experience to come on and be able to navigate all those different situations that they are thrown into.”

It’s that variety that the team thrives on.

“It’s [Site Safety] really very challenging, and it’ll test you on a lot of different levels,” says Dan.

Walk the Walk

Dan says that it’s important for clients to bring in a third party for Site Safety because “they’re getting the advantage of a different set of eyes, a different perspective, but then they’re also getting the perspective from a professional who has gone all over the place doing this.

“One of the things I really like about my job is I’m able to keep learning because I learn something from the guy in West Virginia, or the company in Washington State, or the utility in California. So, we’re able to bring all that knowledge to the table,” he continues.

Another benefit of NATS’ Site Safety team is that they are subject matter experts and have been vetted and qualified through NATS.

Customized Reporting

Once NATS’ Safety Professionals have gone out into the field and made their observations, they complete a report that can be customized to our clients’ needs.

“We objectively look at crew members, their capabilities, their competencies and years of experience, and build upon that with metrics around how hazardous the site may be,” Dan explains. “We quantify those factors and then we can take all this information in the reporting and put it in analytics to look at trends.

“We can take all these moving pieces and components of the job – dozens, if not hundreds – and we can micro-analyze each one and look for trends and tendencies,” he adds. “We then use the information to build leading indicator analytics.

“That’s where NATS really stands apart,” says Dan. “The combination of data analytics and the high level of skill our people bring to the table. We’re able to combine these things to provide our clients with cutting edge (pun intended) solutions.”

To learn more about how NATS’ Site Safety consultant services can benefit your organization, please contact Brian Luzier: brian.luzier@natstraining.com, or (717) 621-8603.

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