Re-thinking Safety

Industries have long used safety practices that attempt to control workers’ behavior, then punish them when there is a failure. These safety practices are based on a view of the world that is ordered and predictable. Traditional safety spends a lot of effort looking backward, counting, and analyzing incidents, and is defined by the actions to avoid.

The fact is, compared with jobs in factories and many other environments, there is little a tree worker has control over. The level of variability is extraordinary. Workers climb trees with a chainsaw on their belts or manipulate the buckets of lift trucks to reach the tops of trees, removing limbs within several feet of live power lines. They work in the rain, snow, heat, and cold. Every tree is different, and many have hidden traps. Emergent risks, surprise, and uncertainty are common. At Lewis, we learn from all the good work – the normal day-to-day work – that we perform. We believe there are valuable lessons in all the miles we cover, all the trees we take down, and all the days we work successfully: all the Jobs Done Right®.


Consider this comment from TCI Magazine, February 1, 2022: “… arboricultural operations are still among the leading industrial activities for fatal and nonfatal injuries. Compared to all industries, tree workers have at least 15 times the fatality rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020a) and three times the nonfatal rate (BLS 2018).” (“Tree Worker Safety Update by the Numbers: Another Us vs. Them,” by John Ball, PH.D., CTSP)

Many workers in utility line clearance have long said, “If you do this job long enough, you will get hurt.” We don’t accept this!  That’s why the Lewis team is challenging the status quo.  We are on a mission-critical journey to save lives and prevent serious injuries by embracing a new view of safety and human performance – and that’s exciting. 

What is "New View" at its core?

“New view” is an operating philosophy that changes how we see the world. It’s a way of thinking about work and safety and our actions and activities as leaders wherein the leader is a listener and a learner. It is a way of doing things to improve work, so that our workers can do what they do every day better. It’s a way to evolve our programs and practices to prepare for emergent risks, understanding that the surprise will happen. We collaborate, we challenge, and most of all – we learn.

Human Performance expands beyond error management to building adaptive capacity that is necessary for highly variable work.

At Lewis, we believe workers create safety through having options ready such as different equipment to do a job more safely or workers who are multi-skilled or extra leaders in the field during storm response. Adaptive capacity also comes in the form of knowledge and to this end, we train on technical skills such as roping and rigging and how to perform a variety of cuts.

Download our book, “A New View of Safety,” for details and examples of how we approach this mission-critical aspect of vegetation management.

To be recognized as leaders of change and deliver a new view of safety, we:

  • Understand that learning is the key to keeping people safe
  • Focus heavily on identifying potential serious injury risks
  • Have a dynamic view of risk for everyday work
  • Engage workers as problem solvers – people are the solution
  • Value expertise, partnering with workers and safety researchers to figure out how to create safety for high-risk work in highly variable conditions

No Exceptions. No Compromise.

We are proud of our human performance tools and practices including:

  • Uncertainty Gauge (Lewis invented)
  • Press Pause (Lewis invented)
  • Close Call Program (Industry leading)
  • Rich learning conversations on our Safety Leadership Calls
  • Tailgates that include storytelling and drills

Want to read our latest perspectives on safety? Check out Lewis Insights for articles on safety and more!

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