- Author: David White
"It is called Trabajando con Palmas con Seguridad (Working Safely with Palms), and is presented entirely in Spanish. Palm trees are an important and conspicuous component of urban landscapes in California and the Desert Southwest. They are the iconic or signature trees of the region. Routine, periodic pruning of leaves, flower and fruitstalk is critical to maintaining palms in a safe and esthetically pleasing functional state.
Such work, typically performed high in the palm canopies, is extremely dangerous and poses numerous safety issues not encountered in other trees. Indeed, the death and accident rate in palms is higher than in other kinds of trees. Nearly all workers in the tree and landscape industries who prune palms are of Hispanic ancestry and many speak primarily Spanish and have limited, if any, understanding of English. Thus, a curriculum and series of workshops conducted entirely in Spanish were developed and implemented to extend information about palm biology, pruning and safety to Spanish-speaking tree workers.
The workshops extend new, innovative technologies and methods for working safely in palms. Initiated in 2010, over 200 workers have attended the ongoing series of workshops in Southern California and Arizona.
Audience surveys indicate that clientele have adapted the information and data show that accidents and deaths while pruning palms have declined.
The factors that contributed to the continuing success of this story are my partnership with Spanish-speaking clientele, who helped to present the workshops; my own fluence in Spanish, which was critical because I was a co-presenter; and the use of existing professional trade groups, in this case, the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Arizona Community Tree Council. They promoted and publicized the workshops and handled registration, logistics and other work-related tasks.
My cooperator and I translated my PowerPoint presentation into Spanish. I printed them out and distributed them at meetings. I also included a few other short publications that the industry here had already translated into Spanish."
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