christopher consultants is proud to have a dedicated Safety Officer, Federico Tersoglio, who stays up to date on all safety matters related to the industry and routinely checks in with our staff to ensure everyone is following proper safety protocols. We had a cup of virtual coffee with Federico to learn what our team members should do upon encountering safety hazards in the field. Any of these threats can be found while going about your everyday life, not just in the field.
What should I do if I come across dangerous insects, such as ticks, wolf spiders and wasps?
One of the hardest things to do with these types of insects is that you don’t see them until it’s too late; their camouflage is nearly perfect, and they blend into their immediate surroundings seamlessly. But if one knows where they tend to be, it provides us with an opportunity to prevent a close encounter. Therefore, the first step is to always be aware of your surroundings. Before entering an area where the possibility of encounter exists, take the necessary precautions of applying the insecticide onto skin and clothes, and identifying a possible fast exit route (for cases such as hornets). PPE does not just refer to a hard hat, vest and eye protection, but dressing appropriately for anything you might encounter in your work environment: long sleeve shirt, long trousers, work boots that cover the ankle, all serve as one more layer of protection towards these critters. Look and listen are two key human senses we must use before entering an environment that may have a population of dangerous insects.
I’m going to a job site where there may be wildlife such as foxes, snakes and even bears. What do I do if I encounter a wild animal?
Foxes are nocturnal in nature; seeing them during the day means they’ve been pushed out of their day resting place or are sick. You’ll want to move away from it as swiftly as possible while maintaining eye contact with the animal. Snakes like to warm up in the sunny areas in the AM by resting on logs, leaves or other vegetation that also provide them camouflage. They feel the vibration of your steps coming and they rather not encounter you, so don’t tread lightly and remain vigilant of where you’re stepping. If you encounter a snake, walk around it. If you’re cutting brush, look above you; many snakes like to perch on branches. A bear is one big creature that you need to respect in size, speed and agility. If you encounter one it is best to stand as tall as you can, make yourself look bigger by raising your hands, be loud and walk away backwards until it’s safe to turn and brisk walk out from where you came. In all instances, calling Animal Control to report your encounter (not so much with snakes unless you have a ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’ moment) is always recommended.
What do I do if I find a discarded weapon?
DO NOT TOUCH IT! Weapons can be loaded without a safety, rigged to discharge upon touching or left as discarded evidence. Take a picture of the weapon, the surroundings (for location reference) and call the local police. Do not leave the area until an officer reaches your location.
How do I handle myself if I find someone living in a tent on property where I need to perform a service, such as a survey or tree risk assessment?
In their eyes, you are the one trespassing. You are the one that will inevitably be the culprit of why they have to move, so proceed with extreme caution as soon as you notice the area. Be loud and call out your intrusion, as if asking politely for permission to survey. Some ‘tenants’ want to know what you’re doing and will then let you proceed; others don’t want you around at all. If the latter, exit the premises and report all to your immediate supervisor. They will contact the client and have them address the safety concerns of working in that specific area.
What is the proper protocol after being in contact with poison ivy or other allergenic plants?
All christopher trucks and company vehicles are equipped with Pre and Post Poison Ivy wipes. You should analyze and evaluate every workspace that you are about to enter and identify any possible dangers. Before entering the brush, seek the best and most clear entry area, and as you progress inward, stop and ‘reset’ your evaluation. With every foot you travel inward, conditions may change. Upon exiting the brush, it is best to always to use soapy water and wash your hands before you go and jump in the vehicle. If you do not have access to soap and water at the site, wash your hands as soon as you are able to. If you’ve planned carefully for your site visit the day before, you’ve taken with you the necessary essentials to decontaminate yourself before you leave the site.
Have you encountered something not listed here and want to better understand how to handle it in the future? Please reach out to Federico at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.766.3924.