Cynthia Mills, president and CEO of the Tree Care Industry Association, and Jim Skiera, executive director of the International Society of Arboriculture, issued a joint letter to David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications, parent company of the TLC television network, asking that the program “Saw for Hire” be pulled from the air due to its “dangerous and unprofessional depiction of commercial tree care operations.”
The letter, dated January 23, 2009, indicated the following:
Dear Mr. Zaslav:
I would like to call your attention to a dangerous and unprofessional depiction of commercial tree care operations in the TLC program “Saw for Hire.”
Tree care is one of the five most hazardous professions in the country, according to independent research. Fatalities are all too common, and serious injuries occur daily. To advance safety, respected arborists are hard at work with associations, professional societies, certification organizations and government at all levels to reduce the accident and fatality rates among workers in the trees. Your program undermines all of those efforts, and it defames thousands of professional arborists in the U.S. who will not compromise their ethics, their integrity and the very safety of themselves and their co-workers for the sake of sensationalism.
Commercial arboriculture is subject to a variety of Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. Judging from your program and the footage available at http://nosakraw.com, the arborists at Nosak Tree Service are either unaware of, or choose to ignore, these safety requirements.
The Tree Care Industry Association represents approximately 2,000 businesses engaged in commercial tree care in the United States. Since 1938, the association has worked to promote and uphold the highest standards of safe and professional conduct, including creating a Certified Treecare Safety Professional program and accrediting tree care companies so consumers know how to hire qualified companies.
In addition, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) represents over 30,000 professional and Certified Arborists around the world. Founded in 1924, ISA promotes the professional practice of arboriculture including administering the Certified Arborist credential program. Through its position as the Secretariat of the ANSI Accredited Standards Committee Z-133 Safety Standards for Arboricultural Practices, ISA also works to promote high safety standards within the industry.
Our organizations are concerned that “Saw for Hire” glorifies unsafe and otherwise unprofessional conduct that, if used as an example in the field, quite simply puts lives at risk – both arborists and the consumers who hire them. The violations are numerous and egregious. They are not simply small, technical violations of industry safety practices but life-threatening acts that repeatedly and consistently show a lack of knowledge of the basics of safe tree care operations.
Discovery Communications claims it is committed to managing its business activities in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and to ensuring honest and ethical behavior by its directors, officers, employees and contingent workers. “Saw for Hire” is a constant, ongoing violation of state, federal and industry professional standards and safety practices. In broadcasting this program, your network is complicit in the promotion of the unprofessional and unsafe practices of this company – practices that lead to injuries and fatalities in the tree care industry on a weekly basis.
Discovery Communications cannot be expected to know all of the safety regulations and best practices requirements that govern commercial arboriculture. Now that you have been made aware of the critically dangerous nature of the broadcast by your network, however, we ask that this program be taken off the air immediately for the benefit of consumers and arborists.
The tree care industry is ranked among the most dangerous professions in the United States. Employees in the tree care industry are often exposed to extreme hazards that must be met with an equally extreme commitment to safety. There are thousands of professional, safe and legally compliant tree care companies in the United States that could provide safe and professional examples of commercial arboriculture. It is in the spirit of cooperation, not confrontation, that we ask for your timely response.
Cynthia Mills, CAE, CMC Jim Skiera, CAE
President & CEO Executive Director
Tree Care Industry Association International Society of Arboriculture