Mobile equipment operators must be supervised

Kent O'Sullivan -
Safety First
- 16 Jun 2005 ( #213 )
3 min read
Whether you are an employer, manager, supervisor or leading hand, if your company employs mobile equipment operators, there are a few things you must know to prevent accidents, reduce machine and product damage, minimise the possibility of liability and, most importantly, ensure everyone in your workplace goes home at the end of the day.

Some people assume training ends once certification is granted. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although mobile equipment operators are trained and certified, they are still human and therefore prone to mistakes. Mobile equipment operators must be supervised. Do you know what to look for? If your answer is no, you are not alone. Most people assume everything was covered during training. Remember, not only is training required, but ongoing supervision of operators, and monitoring of the training process itself, is mandatory.

You must be aware of potential hazards and possess the skills to recognise and correct them. If an operator is operating equipment in an unsafe manner, and you do not correct it, you could be held responsible. You must have the knowledge and tools with which to protect your company and yourself from liability. Listed below are a few items with which you should be familiar and concerned:

Regulations and Training Requirements
Arm yourself, and others, with a thorough knowledge of applicable regulations and standards for the safe operation of mobile equipment. If you are an employer, know your legal obligations. Learn how much training is enough to meet or, preferably, exceed regulatory requirements, prevent accidents, protect against possible litigation and, most importantly, ensure you provide the safest possible working environment.

Reduce the Risk of Liability
As a supervisor or manager you could be held legally liable for the unsafe operation of mobile equipment in your facility and are therefore required to correct any unsafe or hazardous situations. This is a critically important function.

Reduce Costly Damages
In North America alone, accidents cost employers an estimated $US50 million a year in downtime, product damage, grief counselling and lawsuits. It makes sense to do everything in your power to prevent accidents. Knowing what to look for and how to address it will go along way in minimising accidents.

Supervising Operations
To run a continuously safe and efficient operation, you must have a sound knowledge of what constitutes safe versus unsafe operational practices and you must follow-through to ensure all staff receive ongoing training and monitoring. Correcting unsafe behaviour can be daunting, but your own ongoing training can intercede. Consider enrolling in an advanced supervision course or study adult learning principles.

Evaluation
Evaluate operator competency by identifying correct driving skills and unsafe behaviours. The evaluation, if done properly, will reveal any additional training required. It is a requirement that the evaluation be conducted on the specific work tasks and using the specific mobile equipment to which trainees are assigned.

Documentation
To reduce the risk of litigation, meticulous record keeping, testing and certification are crucial. When litigation arises, inaccurate or sloppy documentation discredits the instructor, the training and your company. You must know what to document and how to effectively document. Dot your I's and cross your T's; check and re-check and, most importantly, ensure staff are trained and recertified regularly. Without proper, accurate documentation, there is no proof training actually took place.

The foregoing are only a few of the items managers, supervisors or employers of powered mobile equipment operators must be diligently concerned with. Equip yourself with a sound knowledge of hazard assessment and control, regulatory requirements and evaluations, and documentation procedures and requirements. Thoroughly acquaint yourself with the requirements and operating procedures that surround powered mobile equipment operation. Apply the knowledge all day, every day: it will go a long way towards ensuring everyone in your workplace operates in an efficient, safe and professional atmosphere. Always lead by example.

Kent O'Sullivan is a Certified Master Instructor Trainer with The Columbia Compliance Group. Columbia Compliance Group is a safety consulting firm that specialises in offering professional mobile equipment safety training programs & publications throughout North America.
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