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Posted: August 30, 2013

Local 1245 and Davey Tree
collaborate on ”Close Call” safety program

Local 1245 Advisory Council member Tanny Hurtado speaks with members in Martinez about the Close Call program.

Local 1245 Business Rep. Junior Ornelas explains the Close Call program to Davey crews in Oakland.

Keep the Clearance committee member Justin Casey discusses the Close Call program with Davey Tree members in Oakland. From left: Davey Tree Safety Manager Dave Handt, (Casey), Local 1245 Business Representatives Rich Lane and Junior Ornelas, along with members at Davey Tree.

IBEW Local 1245 and Davey Tree Surgery have started informational meetings to increase incident reporting by tree trimmers.

Davey Tree management and safety officials requested that Local 1245’s Keep the Clearance peer committee oversee and manage the reporting of near misses, also referred to as “close calls.”

“Davey Tree sought out the peer committee for two main reasons,” said Local 1245 Business Representative Rich Lane. “First, to be the recipient of all close call reports to make sure that those who report remain anonymous, and to review the reports so that useful information goes to Davey Tree and union tree members to provide a clearer picture of incidents in the field and to prevent a reoccurrence.”

In early July, Local 1245 Business Representatives Carl Lamers, Junior Ornelas and Abel Sanchez, joined by Lane, met with Davey managers Larry Abernathy, Alan Finocchio and Dave Handt to go over details on how to best present the program and make it workable so tree trimmers would want to participate.

“Our overall goal is safety,” said Finocchio, Davey Tree Regional Vice President. “A safe company is a competitive company, and we want to help our employees be safe.”

Local 1245 Business Representative Sanchez said the union wants all tree trimmers to report close calls through this program.

“Local 1245 Keep the Clearance is going to unit meetings of all tree trimmer companies to explain close call and how everyone can participate; however, it should be noted that Davey Tree took the lead on this and that says a lot for their safety attitude,” Sanchez said.

According to the program, a “close call” is an incident on the job that could have resulted in an injury or damage to company or private property but due to fortunate circumstances did not. A close call report is a chance for others to learn from an incident in order to prevent an injury or save a life in the future. It is important to know that any immediate danger or serious safety risk should not be considered a close call—it should be reported to the company as soon as possible.

Local 1245 and Davey Tree safety representatives, along with members of the Keep the Clearance safety initiative, are currently going to Davey Tree work yards to explain the close call program. They will complete these yard tours sometime this winter. Members are showing an interest in the program and like the anonymous reporting aspect of it. A close call report should include details of the event and what could have prevented the incident.

Tree trimmers have several ways to report close calls, such as filling out a form and giving it to a business representative, safety steward, or shop steward; or mailing it to Local 1245 in envelopes provided by the union with pre-paid postage. Those who want to report a close call on-line can go to, click on “Safety Matters” on the bottom right side of the website home page, then click on “Near Miss” and write in the close call. For information or to ask questions, contact a union tree representative, or safety representative Rich Lane at or call Lane at 209-202-9492.

Tree trimmers should NOT put their name or work location on the report, and should NOT report to the company. The agreed-to arrangement is for Local 1245 Keep the Clearance committee to receive all close call reports.

After review, all close call reports will be given to Davey Tree to use in safety meetings and training. Local 1245 will place the reports on the union’s website for members to access, and on the Keep the Clearance peer initiative secure on-line safety forum.

Davey Tree crews in Oakland gather for a Close Call presentation.

Davey Tree crews in Martinez gather for a Close Call presentation.