Don't take Certifications for Granted

Greg_L

Active Member
#1
Not what I wanted to be posting this week, but here goes.

I just finished up day three at a new job with a tree service owned by an ISA Certified Arborist. He's current; I checked. After day two, it was very clear to me that his certification does not extend to the crew in any way, which was disheartening. I doubt I will finish out a second week with this company. Over the course of three days I have been told by this old-school "foreman" that:

"I'm the best at every part of this business found anywhere."
"Climbing without a buckstrap is safer because it's faster."
"Anything I show you is going to be the best way to do it."
"I have better control over the saw if I drop start it with my hand on the trigger."
"That's not a climbing saw...it's called a 'topping' saw."
"Those certifications are stupid...why go to classes every year when nothing changes? Trees still grow the same..."
"Trimming is a waste of company time...cut them all down."
"No, we don't have chaps."
"Why is your helmet on? You're not up in a tree..."

And then my two personal favorites:

Today, we were kicked off a jobsite because Tim the Toolbag [we'll call him] was driving his skid steer around in a wooded area behind a new-construction development that we were supposed to be dropping the dead ash trees into to prevent them falling outward onto houses. Turns out it's a protected wetland, the developers were nearly fined several thousands, we nearly lost our contract, and he had known about it before we started. Didn't care, and the company owner/Cert. Arborist didn't seem to care much either.

Lastly:

"No. Don't start your notch with the top cut...you can't go far enough into the tree that way. See, if you start with the bottom cut, you can make a bigger notch."

"...but now your cuts aren't lined up."

"That's how you make a hinge. See that hinge I made?"

"Nope."



Yes, the idiot took my saw out of my hands, without chaps, without a helmet, and cut beneath my half-finished notch, and made this. I took the photo right in front of him. I dropped 20-24 trees today, all notches clean and lined up, and was told that this way was far better.

They don't own a portawrap. Groundie doesn't know what one is. Topping is fine if it's what the customer wants. My mind is blown.

Do some research beyond ISA certifications when you're looking for a job. This is a terrible work environment. Now I'm a little stuck until I can find someone else nearby that's hiring, and I may not survive the week. Sorry for the rant.
 

JD3000

Well-Known Member
#2
No worries and points made are all accurate.

I would suggest next time seeking out a more reputable company. I personally am certified but have heard from otjers that state exams can be more difficult than the ISA one. That said, ISA cert isn't necessarily indicitive of professionalism, safe work practices, or general plant science knowledge but it is oftentimes a great starting point and, more often than not, better than the absence of no cert.

We can all argue about making it a stronger test and certification though. I have no problem with that and would eventually like to see our industry go the way of professions like plumbers and electricians.

Keep looking for a better place to work and learn!
 

Drumbo

Active Member
#3
Sounds like a few companies I contract for, owners are certified and they don't own hard hats or chaps. I have to teach their crew how to do everything, its odd. I think one of them is a drunk though. He shows up points at the trees and then disappears until the job is done.
 

Greg_L

Active Member
#6
You should name that guy Barber chair Burt. His guardian angel works overtime
If only I could've recorded the conversation when I attempted to explain that situation to him. Then he started ranting about some guy they used to work with that "would try to bore-cut every tree, and cut them backwards. Ugh, what a waste of time. Trees have to be leaning a TON to split like that, and then all you can do is run..."
 

flyingsquirrel25

Well-Known Member
#9
So this is very a interesting conversation especially after reading the article in TCIA mag on hiring a salesman. The ISA CA test, I don't believe is meant for skills beyond the inspection of job sites. And there is nothing governing us to complete our job safely or even promote safety in our companies. JD is absolutely correct, the cert is just the beginning and it's very easy to keep it up almost entirely by skimming an article every other month and picking answers out of it. The reason I mentioned the article, is because several of the owners/managers PREFER to hire non-tree professional salespeople and then requires the to become CA's with in one or two years. One even said they give something like a 90 day period where the "new guy/gal" works with crews and sells work so they can bond with the crew, learn the business and acclimate to the company. These people get Certified after a year or two with 90 days of practical training. So how hard can it be.
Bad sales people is a totally different thread/rant on its own. But my point is the CA cert is not meant/designed to show a person has any skill whatsoever, it's only knowledge and just the minimum at best. Even the Certified tree worker climber specialist is really something I would expect any new guy to be able to master in not much more than a year (only because the requirement is a year). And a year is NOTHING in our industry, you are just starting to get dangerous by then.
Good luck, I hope you find a safer place to work or can avoid these guys mistakes long enough to get away from this ordeal!
 

flyingsquirrel25

Well-Known Member
#10
Not to be a tattle tale but you should turn them in. Seeing things like this and doing nothing about it is adding to the stigma of "the ISA is useless".
I don't think there is a lot they can do. As long as advertising is in line with the regs, and the owner can show reasonable ways around the exceptions set forth in our ANSI Z. ISA unfortunately has no teeth. A slap on the fingers is about all that's available. Because again, the cert doesn't mean or imply skill. I see it all the time with big green and big yellow. Lousy work from a company with huge research and training budgets...
 

monkeylove

Well-Known Member
#11
I will chime in that the same can be found in other trades as well. A piece of paper or even a skill set does not make a man/woman. Unfortunately that is what has become important in todays world, well that and the cheapest labor pool they can find.
 

Greg_L

Active Member
#12
So this is very a interesting conversation especially after reading the article in TCIA mag on hiring a salesman. The ISA CA test, I don't believe is meant for skills beyond the inspection of job sites. And there is nothing governing us to complete our job safely or even promote safety in our companies. JD is absolutely correct, the cert is just the beginning and it's very easy to keep it up almost entirely by skimming an article every other month and picking answers out of it. The reason I mentioned the article, is because several of the owners/managers PREFER to hire non-tree professional salespeople and then requires the to become CA's with in one or two years. One even said they give something like a 90 day period where the "new guy/gal" works with crews and sells work so they can bond with the crew, learn the business and acclimate to the company. These people get Certified after a year or two with 90 days of practical training. So how hard can it be.
Bad sales people is a totally different thread/rant on its own. But my point is the CA cert is not meant/designed to show a person has any skill whatsoever, it's only knowledge and just the minimum at best. Even the Certified tree worker climber specialist is really something I would expect any new guy to be able to master in not much more than a year (only because the requirement is a year). And a year is NOTHING in our industry, you are just starting to get dangerous by then.
Good luck, I hope you find a safer place to work or can avoid these guys mistakes long enough to get away from this ordeal!
I follow you, you make a sound point. I was under the impression, however, that the ISA cert required a certain level of Ethics in regards to tree care, and the topping and protected wetlands issues raised my eyebrows to the point of nearly coming off.
 

TreeVB

Well-Known Member
#13
Exactly @Greg_L . When you get certified you sign the ISA code of ethics and the topping and wetlands issue would fall under that. ISA doesn't want a company to advertise them on their trucks, website,etc. and then go out and do improper work. Sure they might get a slap on the wrist the first time but this company doesn't seem like one that wants to change and would eventually get their cert. yanked.
 

Steve Connally

Well-Known Member
#15
Welcome to my hell. Anybody who has followed me and listened to my incessant wining knows this is the exact hell I have been working in for the last 10 years. I go from company to company hoping for th greener grass but never find it. My market is flooded with the same companies and bosses. I go to work every day expecting to give my 2 week. This fact has been the major driving point in going $360,000 in debt on my own biz. Can't count on the companies or their haphazard Groundman or rope men. Employee pool is inbred with the same attitudes. The only way I can sustain my love for tree work and do it alone is a TreeMek. My market is horrible. My boss is awful and ignorant. It's a sad state. Don't feel alone. You're not. I can tell you stories for days that would make your blood pressure boil and your head spin. Good luck. I know finding another job is easier said than done. Create that opportunity and do whatever you can to make it happen for you. Support is here for you even if it's just to vent.
 
#18
I think people in general put too much weight in certifications and enforcement. I understand that a demonstration of knowledge is one way to get a piece of paper, and it shows the holder once knew the material. Their decision making and behavior are another thing entirely. It is another layer away then the execution of work is done by hard working people and not the certificate or licence holder.

I think it is much like a driver's license compared to how people actually drive. All of those wonderful drivers you encounter on roadways... they are 'certified" too. And enforcement ... generally forget about it. In my state we have OSHA, and they generally don't do anything until there are bodies. You can call in a complaint, but without bodies or massive fraud your case will be put in the 6 month long queue if they ever get to it at all. Our state and national bureaucrats had to then enact laws to protect the "whistle blowers" because the bad behaviors were so entrenched that it was hell for the ones who reported violations. The response is never 'oh, we were doing it wrong". It is always, "person X tried to screw us over".

Make your phone calls if your conscience won't let you sleep without them. I respect that. Just don't expect much. Be your own man and decide what needs to happen, it is all you can really do. Be safe.
 

Brocky

Well-Known Member
#19
Welcome fellow Michigander, adaycj. The miosha part 53 that we are suppose to follow was last updated in the early 80s, it mentions the use of Manila rope for a climb line. It's easy to believe they are in no hurry to investigate anything.
 

Greg_L

Active Member
#20
Thanks for the input/support! It's nice to know that I am , in fact, not crazy, and that this is (in fact) an inadequate work environment.


"One of these is not like the other...one of these just doesn't belong..."

Today I was informed that wedges are for beginners, and you should never file your depth gauges. You, sir, are incorrect.
 
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