Post From Liftech Training And Safety Manager Jeff Hauser
When I began to write this article I thought where to begin? The hazards of equipment, the safety features, the rules of operation, the necessary and required training, the OSHA standards, or the manufacture guidelines? There are so many topics that involve the safe operation of equipment. Although many of these topics are themselves very important, I figured I would start at the beginning.
I am currently an OSHA Outreach Instructor and Safety Trainer for Liftech, my time is primarily spent doing two things, I study and learn the equipment then I train operators on that equipment. Most of the training I do is for equipment in our featured lines; Hyster, Yale, JCB, JLG and Genie. I am regularly asked to train on other brands and manufactures of equipment also. So, as I mentioned the first step in this procedure is to study and learn the equipment. In doing so, I have spent hundreds of hours reading operators manuals, so that’s where I’ll start today.
We’ve all heard of the operator’s manual and its importance, but time after time I walk into both operator and trainer training classes and within the first half hour of class I start talking about the operator’s manual. After a short speech on its importance and the fact that every piece of equipment ever made came with one, I ask the class; “Who has read the operators manual for the equipment we will be training on today?” Well, the answer was at first surprising that in a room of ten to fifteen operators or two to five trainers I rarely get more than one or two that respond they have read it. Unfortunately, this has become the norm.
There must be a reason for this. Reading the manual is in every Equipment Safety Video or Presentation I have ever seen, I hear trainers saying it all the time but it’s not getting read. Is someone telling them not to read it? Probably not, unless management does not see its importance and does not allow time for that task. Are our supervisors and leaders to blame or is it our trainers and instructors? No matter who it is we blame for not stressing its importance and not following up on this vital piece of training, I can assure you it is not getting done. Perhaps even in your company with your equipment operators and trainers.
If you open an operator’s manual, most of the time with-in the first few pages the manufacture of the equipment, asks you to read the manual BEFORE operating the machine. I am often told by people that statement is a CYA statement form the manufactures. Is it? Well maybe it is, or maybe it comes from a combination of organizations, some of which you may have heard of. OSHA, ANSI and MSHA to name a few stressing the importance of the manual. As a matter of fact, manufactures striving to comply with the standards and regulations of these organizations, must include the information in the manual with the machines they sell. We can then say and hopefully agree that is a requirement for the manual to be with every piece of equipment and to be read and or understood.
So, what is in an operator’s manual? In most cases 3 things:
- Safety topics for operating the equipment,
- How to operate the equipment, its safety features and controls
- Equipment maintenance.
Let’s talk about number one, safety topics when operating the equipment. All equipment does not operate the same even within the same classification. Manufacture to manufacture equipment differs depending on the year it was made and the model. The operator’s manual explains safety guidelines when operating specific pieces of equipment. Number two, how to operate the equipment, its safety features and controls. Some manufactures refer to this as “Familiarization Training”. The operator needs to know what all the safety features of the machine are and how to operate the controls. (NOTE: If your employees are not reading the manual to get this information and instead just going out to the equipment sitting in it and moving the controls around until they learn it, understand that this practice is time consuming, wage consuming not to mention dangerous. A company I know had an OSHA recordable injury from the “sit in it and try it method”. The third topic equipment maintenance, you would think is for the mechanics only, but if that’s what you’re thinking that would be wrong. Most equipment has at minimum daily or weekly checks, grease points and or other maintenance instructions to keep that equipment running safely and keep the company from incurring costly breakdowns and repairs.
If you’re an employer and you want to meet OSHA guidelines, save money and keep your employees, operators and trainers safe have them read the operators manual. If you’re a trainer and have not read the operator’s manual for the equipment you are training you operators on, I can assure you that there is information in there that you need. If you’re an operator and you want to be productive at work and make it home to your family, read the manual.
If you have comments, questions or suggestions because I too am continuously learning please respond to this article. If you and or your company need training for operators or trainers within Liftech’ geographical territory send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time. Keep an eye out for more safety related articles in the future!