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PlexusCalls:Participatory Action Research and Safety in Forestry
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When: 4/24/2015
1 PM to 2 PM
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Friday, April 24, 2015

1-2 PM Eastern Time

Participatory Action Research and Safety in Forestry

Guests: John Betts and Tom Bigda-Peyton


When people working on every part of a process share opinions, insights and observations about what they are doing and how their activities impact each other, understanding those multiple perspectives can influence changes that improve safety. It’s called participatory action research, and the stories gathered help identify problems and solutions.  These guests are using the process in British Columbia to reduce injuries and resolve other difficult and complex problems in forestry


John Betts is the executive director for the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association based in Vancouver British Columbia. The Association represents private companies that work in the B.C. forestry industry planting trees, tending plantations and fighting wildfires across the province. Since 2002 the WSCA, in collaboration with the BC Forest Safety Council, has worked towards reducing workplace injury rates among its 6500 seasonal workers through various strategies designed and implemented through the BC SAFE Silviculture Program. The industry faces a number of challenges regarding health and safety created by the seasonal work, the vast and differing terrain of the province, a primarily young workforce, a highly competitive industry, and the pros and cons of piece work remuneration. Although the sector has generally succeeded in substantially reducing injury rates and risks to workers, some areas, particularly musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs), have proven more intractable. This fact has led the WSCA to consider strategies outside of the traditional approaches to workplace safety including recognizing complexity theory as a useful way to make sense of conditions and behaviour common to the industry.


Thomas Bigda-Peyton, EdD, is a system coach and consultant working to catalyze innovation and whole-system engagement in large organizations and networks striving for collective impact. Tom uses methods such as collaborative problem-solving, action learning, and positive deviance to promote culture change in industries such as healthcare, government, and forestry. As a practitioner-researcher for 25 years, and currently as a Partner at Second Curve Systems in Boston, his clients have included multiple healthcare systems, the Federal Aviation Administration, Fidelity Investments, the government of Ontario, and the Forest Safety Council of British Columbia. He is co-author of the books From Innovation to Transformation: Moving Up the Curve in Ontario's Healthcare System and Safety Culture: Building and Sustaining a Cultural Change in Aviation and Healthcare. Tom holds a doctorate in Organizational Behavior and Intervention from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he worked with two pioneers in the field of organizational learning and system dynamics, Chris Argyris and Don Schon. He also holds master's and bachelor's degrees from Harvard.




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