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Put an Emphasis on Safety During National Safety Month

June 27, 2022
Our industry presents inherently risky work – from enormous systems transmitting high voltages across great distances to each of the ancillary services that make each operation possible.

As I settle into my new role and become familiar with our industry, there’s one thing I can say with certainty – safety is paramount at ACRT Services and our family of companies.

Our industry presents inherently risky work – from enormous systems transmitting high voltages across great distances to each of the ancillary services that make each operation possible. At the end of the day, we want everyone to make it home safely, so it is crucial that practicing safety in our industry goes beyond our organization.

Every June, we observe National Safety Month, an annual observance to help keep each other safe from the workplace to any place championed by the National Safety Council.

I took National Safety Month as an opportunity to speak to a handful of experts and leaders throughout the ACRT Services family of companies.

  • Adrienne Jones, ACRT and Bermex assistant safety manager
  • Bryan Durr, ACRT Pacific director of operations
  • Jerry Staton, ACRT operations manager
  • Keith Pancake, ACRT and Bermex safety manager
  • Kevin Gamble, ACRT Services marketing and communications manager
  • Kevin Myers, ACRT Arborist Training supervisor
  • Mike Weidner, ACRT Services Chief Executive Officer
  • M.K. Youngblood, ACRT Pacific safety manager

What is the importance of National Safety Month?

“National Safety Month serves as an annual reminder to help keep each other safe. Awareness is the key to prevention. Talking about safety issues is a critical component of preventing incidents and promoting safe behavior. Now more than ever, we need to work together as a team to make our work life safer. Through these annual occurrences, we can keep safety top of mind and engage employees to discuss safety topics, hazards, training, near misses, incidents, and more – all to strive to improve our safety program, our habits, and the protection of our teams,” shared Jones.

Myers also noted that this annual observance serves as “an annual reminder for companies and individuals to review their safety practices and remember that our career choice has hazards that can lead to serious injuries or fatalities.”

At ACRT Services and our family of companies, we use National Safety Month as an opportunity to promote safe behaviors across our industry and reinforce our culture of safety.

Why is safety so important in our industries?

The one thing that is consistent throughout our industry is the daily exposure to risks that threaten our safety — whether it’s driving to work, pruning trees, or working near powerlines.

Gamble explained, “Proper safety behaviors should be paramount in all industries, but given the inherently risky nature of our industry, individuals in utility vegetation management can’t afford to lose focus. Whether you are pruning trees hundreds of feet in the air, driving hundreds of miles in a single day, or managing the flow of traffic under an energized wire, you need to stay on top of your safety game. Our industry is chop full of leading safety professionals that recognize the multitude of risky situations that they may encounter daily. These safety professionals can’t afford for safety to be anything but paramount.”

Severe injuries, dismemberment, and death affect the lives of those around you. The health and welfare of ourselves, our co-workers, and the ones we love should not be discounted at any measure. The reputation of your company and customers is good business, and personal attitudes toward safety are a direct correlation to your consideration for others. Incidents, when they occur, need to be truly fully evaluated to determine if there are controls that can be implemented to prevent recurrence or if there are gaps in policy or training,” said Durr.

What does safety mean to you?

Youngblood provided a great explanation of what safety means to him. “Safety is not a singular concept. It is interwoven into every other department: human resources, operations, fleet, administration, logistics, and more. It should not be compartmentalized but utilized as core credence.”

As many shared, safety should be the number one priority on our lists each day. Weidner expanded. “First and foremost, our jobs/careers are a means to an end for us individually. We work to earn money, use skills, socialize, grow personally, grow professionally, and be beneficial to those around us. Injuries stop all of that from happening, instantly. We deprive ourselves, our teams, our customers, and our company of those benefits when we get injured. Point of fact, we do just the opposite when we are injured, we lose the things that give us self-worth, that create enjoyment and there are long-term physical and economic impacts on each of us.”

Safety is now a profession, obsession, and something I take personally. As someone who suffered a devastating injury at work, I want to use my experiences to motivate and inspire others to take a fresh look at how they work. Safety can’t be stale; it is a very dynamic equation that we must always be ready to accept new logic or strategies if we are going to solve. Safety in many ways involves common sense, but the pressures that we are faced with in business today can be overwhelming. Safety is a great challenge, one that can’t be accomplished alone, but with the collective effort and support of each other,” said Pancake.

Staton also noted, “Safety is an obligation but not in a negative context. I am obligated to my family to stay safe; I have an obligation to my team to keep them safe, and I’m obligated to lead by example for both my team and my family.”

What is your safety mantra?

“’Until We Are All Safe,’ is something that I read years ago on a wristband. What it means to me is that I must be safety conscious and impact conscientious for not only myself and my family, but for all those who rely on me to be present, aware, and capable of doing my job in the best possible manner,” shared Weidner.

Myers leans on the words of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “Learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”

Looking at my question from a team perspective, Youngblood noted, “I always tell my teams it doesn’t matter how much money we are making by working overtime — if we cannot get back home in one piece to enjoy the fruits of our labor with our family and loved ones — it was all for nothing!”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned that we can all agree upon, it’s the importance of making it home to our loved ones at the end of each day. What will you do this month to emphasize safety?

Brian Astman is the director of business development at ACRT Services. He has a range of experience in the consumer goods industry — including managing corporate accounts on a national level, such as Amazon, Walmart, Chewy, and Petco. Astman holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business and Organizational Communication from the University of Akron and an M.B.A. in Business Administration and Management from Cleveland State University.

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