January 22, 2019 By Judy Mellott-Green
There is an old industry saying: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’ll all come about in the end”. That may have worked 10 or 20 years ago, but it wouldn’t fly in today’s industries. Manufacturing, assembly, production, construction and operations have radically changed over the past 10 years. Operating equipment now is very sophisticated with onboard computers, lots of bells and whistles, and some even come with robots.
What hasn’t changed are the workers in the shops, who operate all types of powered equipment to perform their job tasks. Many of these workers are skilled certified trades personnel that utilize all types of powered equipment to perform their job, such as welders, pipe fitters, electricians, etc.
The employer is responsible to ensure all workers have successfully completed the site orientation prior to entering the shops, as well as provide safety training programs applicable to the company equipment operations. Examples of this are forklifts, pallet jacks, telehandlers, overhead crane lifting equipment, etc.
Most industries across North America have made significant changes to applicable local occupational health and safety regulations and federal legislation. It is every employer’s responsibility to ensure the safe work practices in their shops comply to the most current published regulations and standards requirements.
In addition to meeting compliance to jurisdictional OH&S regulations and safety codes, the employer shall meet compliance of applicable equipment safety standards. CSA-B167 in Canada, and ASME B30 in the United States, have designed standards applicable to most types of lifting equipment. In event of an injury, accident or fatality, these standards will be utilized to ensure the equipment was inspected, maintained and operated in compliance to these standards. These records are the employer’s objective evidence of due diligence, that everything reasonably practicable was done to ensure worker safety on their jobsite. The employer is responsible for maintaining all records of maintenance, inspections, repair logbooks, including the operator daily logbook, that may be reviewed at any time. The equipment “Operator Daily Logbook” is the employer’s objective evidence of due diligence in the event of an injury accident or fatality, to ensure worker safety and that everything reasonably practicable has been done correctly. These equipment checks take place at the beginning and end of every shift and are documented in the “Operator Daily Logbook”. This is very cost effective for the employer, as most deficiencies are noticed and reported to the supervisor on every shift. As an example, when a limit switch is not working or brake not holding, etc. Should these types of issues not be addressed, it could result in a very costly repair or a catastrophic accident.
Downtime alone for the repair could easily result in tens of thousands of dollars in lost production, costly repairs, or possibly loss of contract. The only way to reduce these incurred costs is to ensure all workers are properly trained and work continuously in accordance to the safety training received, for the powered equipment they operate.
Supervisors, HSE-personnel, foremen and lead-hands are recommended to attend and successfully complete the same safety courses all their workers attend, as they are responsible for observing/monitoring workers performing tasks, to ensure they are not putting themselves in jeopardy of having an accident.
The employer is responsible to ensure every worker is operating powered equipment correctly. These instructions are all in the manufacturer’s handbook, which is an excellent tool to utilize when seeking out safety training venders for the powered equipment in the shops.
Judy Mellott-Green has over 27 years experience working in the overhead crane industry and was the recipient of the 2016 CSA Award of Merit in recognition of exemplary goal-oriented leadership. As president of the All Canadian Training Institute Inc. (ACTi) in Edmonton, Alta., Judy continues to participate on provincial, national and international safety committees to assist in improving standards and workers safety for those who utilize this type of equipment.
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