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Tree Care Industry Association Alliance Member-Kappen Tree Service- Receives Safety Award for 16 Years Without a Lost-Time Accident

On December 17, 2007, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) awarded Kappen Tree Service, LLC (KTS), its Consultation Education and Training (CET) Gold Award for an outstanding safety and health record. The CET Gold Award recognizes an organization's safety and health achievement of 100,000 - 2,000,000 continuous hours worked without days away from work. Bill Shane, ASP, MIOSHA Senior On-site Safety Consultant, nominated KTS, a woman-owned company in Cass City, Michigan, because its employees worked for more than 16 years without a lost-time accident.

The benefits to KTS of its emphasis on safety are many, says Crystal Kappen, co-owner of KTS. "The Number One benefit is the saving of lives and elimination of suffering. In addition, we (KTS) benefit from increased production as a result of no lost time and reduced workers' compensation rates (Our mod rate of .75 is below the typical 1.0 rate. Modification rate or "mod" rate is the "actual number" (losses) over the "predicted number" (losses) which yields a number usually between 0.10 and 1.99). We have an advantage when we bid on proposals because contractors know we are committed to safety. Our sales have doubled every year for the past 5 years, and our profits have increased because we have had zero accidents (the indirect costs of an accident can exceed the direct costs by a factor of as much as 4 or 5). Furthermore, we have a low rate of employee turnover and a high rate of general health and safety awareness because employees are proud of our record and eager to maintain it."

KTS is a member of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), formerly the National Arborist Association, which signed an Alliance with OSHA on November 10, 2006 at the TCI EXPO in Baltimore, Maryland. The Alliance addresses reducing and preventing exposure to safety and health issues related to tree removal and electrical, falls, and struck-by hazards. Since February 2008, TCIA has also been a member of a new MIOSHA Green Industry Alliance, which focuses on the safety and health of Michigan's green industry workers including those engaged in trimming trees and designing landscapes, construction, as well as care and maintenance services. Said Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor, Safety, Compliance & Standards, TCIA, "TCIA works with its Alliance partners to convey the value of OSHA consultation and other OSHA resources to small business owners."

"Employees in the tree care industry are often exposed to very dangerous hazards," said Assistant Secretary Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. USDOL-OSHA. "By working with industry leaders, we believe we can make positive strides in ensuring that employees in this important industry are armed with the tools they need to stay safe and healthy at work."

"We applaud Kappen's commitment to excellence and commend their outstanding efforts to protect the safety and health of their workers in a very high-hazard industry," said MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski. "They are meeting the challenge facing businesses today of being economically competitive, while still maintaining an accident-free work environment."

Crystal Kappen maintains that the outstanding safety and health record of KTS is the result of a safety and health management system that includes significant employer commitment, an active safety and health committee, job safety analysis to identify hazards, regular safety and health training, and a dedication to fostering a culture of safety. For example, KTS offers its employees programs in chain saw safety, job-site setups, job hazard surveys, safety hazard surveys, new employee job orientations, forklift operator training, scenario interactions (e.g., "What would you do if.."), emergency evacuation plans, seasonal problems (e.g., poison plants, insects, heat stroke, frost bite), back injury prevention, accident procedures, weather conditions, on-the-job training and documentation of progress, aerial rescues, CPR/First Aid, defensive driving, management accident investigation, drug and alcohol prevention, bloodborne pathogens, lock out/tag out, personal protective equipment, and more. In addition, KTS has job briefings, MSDS training by location, public safety meetings, drivers' license checks, daily and annual vehicle inspections, annual hearing evaluations, weekly tailgate safety meetings, and employee surveys of the company.

Tim Eagen, Safety Director, KTS, contends that "The exceptional safety record at KTS is a direct result of the company's dedication to honesty, integrity and professionalism. KTS provides its employees with the best of tools, which includes outstanding equipment and up-to-date information. The communication between the managers and the dedicated employees is excellent."

In November 2006, KTS received TCIA's Tree Care Accreditation, which required reviews of its business practices and conduct, employee training and certification, industry standards compliance, consumer satisfaction, adherence to safety standards, and insurance coverage. In March 2007, Crystal and Jason Kappen became TCIA Certified Treecare Safety Professionals (CTSP).

Says Crystal Kappen, "We believe that by pulling together the leadership and resources of TCIA, MIOSHA, and OSHA, we have created a powerful team that works together to improve our (KTS) already high standards of health and safety. Our safety values reflect our record, and our continued goal is to maintain safety excellence as a vital focus of our operations."

-- As of June 2008.