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When Curtis Korabek, Safety Director for TREES, LLC., returned to his job after attending the Florida Safety Summit, March 5 and 6, something exciting happened as he encountered crews in the field.

“Employees who were at the summit in Florida were sharing what they learned with me,” recalls Korabek, a Certified Treecare Safety Specialist. “They were taking information back to their coworkers, and passing along ideas and tactics they had never heard about before. To me, that is what the safety summits are all about.”

Tim Walsh, Vice President of Safety and Training at The Townsend Company, LLC, presented in Florida on two topics, “Safety Differently” and “Wires Under Tension”. A multi-year speaker at UAA Safety Summits, Walsh says they are the best events for UVM professionals, especially field-level employees, to attend.

“There were amazing questions from the audience during the Q&A portion of the presentations,” Walsh says. “Several people approached me afterward to discuss how the Safety Differently talk resonated with them. Many people have long felt that focusing on counting injuries (TRIR), blaming the worker, and calling human error a “cause” was actually detrimental to reducing serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs).”

The topics, the presentations, the interaction, and the discussion are rarely found at industry events, he adds.

“The UAA Safety Summit is not an experience where you spend two days inside a room, staring at a presentation with your eyes feeling heavy, listening to the same topics that you have already heard for the past decade,” says first-time attendee Danae Jackson, an At-Height Business Developer with the Redwing Company, an ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist® and TCIA Certified Tree Care Safety Professional. “You are an active participant.”

“I gained a better understanding of the safety requirements that utilities are looking for in their contracts. There was a strong emphasis overall on prioritizing safety, speaking up when something is not right, improving human performance, and identifying ways to enhance safety practices. During on-site training, I picked up specific safety measures related to chainsaw operation and bucket truck inspections of which I was not previously aware.”

Where most utility industry conferences and summits target VM leadership and management, Curtis Korabek says the safety summits are unique for the way they reach out to the people working in the field.

“We not only share changes in the industry and best management practices with them, but we also value their input and knowledge as to what works for them and what doesn’t,” adds Korabek. “They are the ones operating within the guidelines that flow out into the field. They also use the latest innovative tools and are the knowledge of our industry. If I don’t learn from our frontline workers, then I’m not effective in my job.”

Watch for future UAA Safety Summit articles in the Monthly Update.