Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Institute featured in Elevating Safety

The Institute for Aerial Lift Safety featured in the 2011 Elevating Safety magazine from IPAF.  The article “What it Takes to Be an Aerial Work Platform Instructor” highlights trainers from around the United States, including Katherine Hinkel from The Institute for Aerial Lift Safety in Philadelphia, PA. 

Focusing on the importance of having a qualified instructor, the article defines what that term means, both from the ANSI standard and from the perspective of the instructors.

“An instructor has to be passionate about the material,” says Katherine Hinkel… “Providing AWP operators with the knowledge they need to complete their job safely is an important task for any trainer.  The decisions made regarding ANSI standards and OSHA regulations affect all of us in the industry, and a trainer needs to be aware of those developments.”

All AWPT instructors must have adequate operating experience, have experience training, and complete the AWPT instructor training course with an AWPT master trainer. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

IALS holds training course

On August 17, the Institute held an AWPT operator’s course for categories (1b) and (3b) at our facility.  We had 6 students from all over the country in attendance, with each student successfully receiving a PAL card.

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Our morning session, a classroom lecture that covers all aspects of regulations, potential hazards, types of equipment, and other important topics.

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Here you see one of our trainers instructing students on the proper technique for a pre-start inspection on a category 1b machine. 

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Here is a student navigating the challenge course for category 3b operators.  Operators must avoid the cones and successfully complete a task after doing a workplace inspection and pre-start inspection to demonstrate their competence in the category.

We had a great day and we congratulate these students on their success. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Highlighting Industry Best Practices

In February of 2010, an group of industry professionals released a document called Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment. This 20-page document aims to educate everyone in the industry about several important aspects of AWP training.

One of the most common misunderstandings is the difference between general training and familiarization. Page 11 of the document has a very helpful table that clears up this issue perfectly, and page 14 has a more detailed table. In the simplest form, familiarization refers to “a specific model” of machine, whereas general training would be for “multiple pieces of equipment of a particular type.”

Other excellent additions are tables outlining the responsibilities of the manufacturer, dealer, user, and operator as far as general training, and a review of compliance requirements.

This document does an excellent job of consolidating current information and delivering an accessible document for the industry as far as best practices.

The Institute and AWPT recommend that all aerial lift operators and managers have access to this document to further understand their safety and training responsibilities.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Institute featured on Lift and Access

The Institute was highlight on Lift and Access.  Check out the article here

Low PPE compliance?

Aerial lift safety does not just involve the operator and the equipment.  PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is also an important aspect of a safe work environment.  As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide PPE to all employees free of charge.  But it is the employee’s responsibility to actually use the equipment.

According to a recent survey, 89% of employers (across many fields) had seen their employees not using PPE when they should have been.  And when asked why their workers were not using correct PPE, the responders said that the workers thought the PPE was not required.  In other words, the workers were not properly trained.

What PPE should aerial lift operators be using when using equipment?

  • Hard Hat
  • Harness (in a boom type lift). For full guidance on Harness use, please refer to the AWPT H1 Statement
  • Safety Goggles (type depends on Risk Assessment)
  • Gloves (type depends on Risk Assessment)

Workers should also be wearing appropriate boots, whether steel-toed or not.  Clothing appropriate for the weather and work should always be worn.  Again, a risk assessment by the employer should inform these decisions.

Proper training by a qualified instructor, such as the AWPT operator program delivered by the Institute for Aerial Lift Safety will ensure that operators are clear on the necessity for correct PPE use at all times.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Response to Notre Dame Scissor Lift Accident Report

The following is written by Mark Hinkel of Hinkel Equipment Rentals

After studying the Notre Dame "Investigation Report, October 27, 2010, Aerial Lift Accident", one is struck by the total lack of a "Safety Culture" exhibited by the various departments and entities involved in the tragedy of Declan Sullivan's death.  I realize that the readers of the Notre Dame report are getting the information secondhand, but that information is far from complimentary to the institution.

The analysis of an accident often points to a 'chain' of events that are involved in the accident, any one of which, if addressed, might have broken the chain and prevented the occurrence of the accident.  It looks like there was a lot of ignorance of the possible hazards involved in scissor lift operation.

How can the lack of training not be a contributor to the accident?  What about the inattention to the requirements that the lift be inspected?  Who originated the '35 MPH' wind speed limit for the use of the scissor lifts?  If a construction employer had depended on a specification without a basis, and had an accident, then that employer would be at fault.

The lift industry has recognized for years that we have a responsibility to do our part in supplying safe, efficient equipment to users, and to ensure that those users know how to operate the equipment in a proper manner so that the job is completed safely... and then go home.  Not everyone is taking their responsibilities seriously. 

We in the access industry are working hard to implement the standards like ANSI, ISO and OSHA, that will protect users, but if the regulations are ignored by those in the chain of responsibility, then the path to a disaster like this is much more likely.  Proper training will never do anybody any harm, and if there are things that I learned during my own access training:  1). There's a lot that we don't know, and 2).  If that formal training causes any of us to stop and look something over, even for a few moments, then that's the idea of saving lives...

A 'Safety Culture' starts at the top, with leaders that are willing to accept responsibility for the conduct and safety of their charges.  Start that way, and then the favorable behaviors that save lives will become second nature to all of the involved parties.  Denying the obvious, that better training could have enabled Mr. Sullivan to better recognize the wind hazard he was exposed to, is doing an injustice to all of the properly trained operators who work safely every day.  This begs the question, "If better training doesn't help to avoid accidents, then why do it?".  Training doesn't have a cost, it has a value...