Communication: The Key to Safety and Education
Written by: Ben Reince, Certified Arborist WI-0610A
Communication is an important part in any business, and doing tree work is no different. Doing tree work tends to be very noisy due to the saws, chippers, or other equipment that is being used for the job. With all the equipment running, a team trying to communicate to one another can be challenging. Wachtel’s past practices would be to yell to one another to try and communicate each other’s needs or if the equipment is too loud the team would use non-verbal communication in the form of hand signals. Both of these practices while effective do have potential for miss-communication which could result in an incident. Our team saw this as great risk and it needed to be addressed.
Technology being what it is today, it didn’t take long to find a solution to our communication needs through the use of an integrated communication system. In the spring of 2015 Wachtel made the investment and began the process of installing communication systems on everyone’s hard hat. The communication system allows the team to pair to each other via Bluetooth, which allows for 2-way communication for all those connected, much like talking on the telephone where everyone can talk at the same time. The speakers are integrated into the team’s hearing protection and the use of noise canceling microphones helps to provide a crystal-clear link between team members.
To say that the communication systems have had an impact on our teams would be an understatement; really revolutionizing communication, safety and efficiency all at the same time. Communicating to a team member to bring you a piece of equipment you left on the ground before you went up into the tree. Communicating that the work zone is clear before making any cuts as to not drop a branch on your team member. One of the most crucial areas that has been affected is the training of employees. The ability to talk a team member through a task when you can’t be right by their side or to have them explain to you the process they need to follow to do the task and you listen to make sure they have all the right steps in place before proceeding. Having the capability to talk to each other has changed how we train from a directing approach, where you’re told what to do, to more of a coaching style where questions are asked of the team member being trained and have them think through the process. This style of training helps to retain the information being taught, allowing them to become proficient sooner.
So, when you look out your window and you see a Wachtel team member that looks like they are talking to themselves don’t be worried, for they are communicating with the rest of the team to make sure they are being as safe and efficient as they can be while working for you and your trees.