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A role within the tree planting industry that has been steadily developing over the past few years is the Planter Safety Representative (Rep) Role.

Companies use different names for it. Other examples I’ve seen are Crew Safety Rep, Ombudsperson, and Community Safety Facilitator. For this piece, I will use Planter Safety Rep. Another point on language is that there are different ways to describe people who have experienced harm, victim or survivor are two common terms I’ve come across. For this piece, I will use victim.

Over the years, I’ve noticed some confusion and lack of support around this role - this piece aims to fill these gaps. I worked in this role for two seasons officially and numerous seasons unofficially. I’ve helped develop and provide training for the role at a few different companies.

In February 2022, I created an anonymous survey to gather more information from the industry about this role. I surveyed folks from the facebook group Radical Silviculture because this is where I noticed conversations about this role happening. The survey received 12 responses. While 12 is a low number and hardly indicative of an entire industry, it is a starting point. Thank you to the people who took the time to respond to the survey, sharing industry knowledge and best practices helps everyone!

This piece is broken down into two parts. Part 1 shares the survey results and part 2 provides an example of a bare-bones training outline for the role. I use the words bare-bones because this outline is not intended to be copy-and-pasted-this-is-the-training. It is meant to be altered and tailored to fit the specific organization.

Without further ado, let's dive into the survey results.

Part 1 - Survey Results: Planter Safety Rep Gathering Community Data

What is the best name for this role?

What responsibilities should this role entail?

Should a Planter Safety Rep be involved in the harassment/assault reporting process? Or is this something that only management should be involved in?

What does being a leader in creating an emotionally and physically safe work environment look like? What does this mean?

What kind of training should this person have?

How should this role be compensated?

What has your experience been like with this type of role at your company? Useful/useless? Why?

Anything else you'd like to add about this role?

While the survey conducted is obviously not fully representative of the entire industry, it serves as a great starting point and provides valuable insight into the current state of this role.

Now onto the sample training outline.

Part 2- Planter Safety Rep Sample Training Outline

1. Introduction

2. Explain The Purpose & Importance of This Position

3. Job Description

4. Expectations of the Planter Rep

5. Expectations of Management

6. How This Role Will Be Supported

This role is steadily evolving within the industry, which means best practices will continue to evolve along with it. Input from Planter Safety Reps and the community at large will help this role become more ingrained. Use this training outline as a starting point. I’ve simplified it intensely to share it widely. The training outline is intended to be engaged with, flushed out, and adapted to fit the specific company.

To conclude, this is a vital role within the industry, and it is exciting to see it gaining traction. This role builds a bridge between planters and management, between management and senior leadership. When seemingly “minute” day-to-day issues go unchecked, they can quickly lead to a toxic workplace culture. This role ensures these issues get addressed, it helps support an open communication channel throughout the company, and it can increase psychological and physical safety if integrated systematically. Competitive compensation will incentivize this role and demonstrate a commitment to its importance.


All About the Planter Safety Representative Role

Say that three times fast.

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