|Another disgraceful example of the state of safety in the fluid power industry!
by Rory S. McLaren
Another person puts his job at a rental company on the line because he refuses to work on an aerial lift, citing no hydraulic experience!
"my husband does not want to put any operator's life on the line because his bosses and company are more worryed (sic) about making money instead of safety . . ."
"My husband works for a major rental company, he is a mechanic and has been with the company for 4yrs now, he works on what they call dirt equipment and has not worked on high reach equipment because he has had no training what so ever and does not what to be responsible for accidents that might occur because of his inexpierences. But he was told to work on a 60ft boom last week and refused to do it because of this the district mgr told the store mgr to fire him. His job is very much on the line because of this suitation and we are trying to find some kind of information to determine if there is any qualifications that you need to do to be able to work on this kind of equipment. Any information you could give us on this matter would be very helpful, he does not want to put any operators life on the line because his bosses and company are more worryed about making money instead of saftey."
- Identity withheld by the FPSI
As we understand it, in a court of law, the person who does the work is ultimately responsible for his or her actions. The self-incrimination is heightened by the mere fact that the person knew that what he or she was doing could lead to an accident.
This removes most of the responsibility from the very people who are responsible for "forcing" individuals to perform work under threat of losing their jobs - this is unacceptable.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
If you are put in this situation, explain to your supervisor that the task you are given can place you and/or others at risk of an accident because you lack the necessary training.
If your supervisor is arrogant enough to insist that you do the job regardless of your education and training, discuss the matter with your safety officer.
If you don't get satisfaction from either of these people, you have limited recourse.
When we contacted our local OSHA office regarding this incident, there was apparently nothing they could do - conceivably, because "hydraulics" IS NOT a recognized occupational hazard - it does not exist in their reference manuals!
Hydraulics is mentioned briefly under "de-energization and verification. However, OSHA apparently does not hold the fluid power industry accountable for the fact that hydraulic systems CANNOT be safely de-energized!
Note: We have sent letters to OSHA's regional office in Denver (December 2000), and their Regional Solicitor of Labor office in Kansas City (March 2002) requesting specific information with regard to this issue. However, both inquires went unanswered.
You need to write a waiver of liability - state the situation as best you can, and what transpired between you and the other parties. Have each member of the party sign the waiver, and make copies for each of them.
This is not going to bode well with your supervisors, because they themselves are aware of the hazards associated with "flying" unsafe equipment.
Also remember, that these despicable individuals are the same ones who would refuse to board an airplane with their families if they have any notion that the mechanics who work on the hydraulic systems are not properly trained - unlike aerial lift mechanics, FAA mechanics enjoy protection under the law!
You are better off resigning from the company, because even though you won't have a job, you still have your family.
If you choose to resign, state the situation in your letter of resignation (include names and titles), and send a copy to the company president - not that this will help, because all supervisors and managers do is carry out corporate policy.
The FPSI needs your help to expose these companies. Send us a letter with all the facts. Once we have substantiated the allegations, we will gladly post the names of the respective companies on our website for all to see.
Hopefully the people who rent these machines will support those companies who embrace the safety of their personnel, and the people who work on and around this type of equipment.
Untold numbers of maintenance personnel are put in the same situation every day. Many choose to work by trial-and-error to protect their jobs - we believe the rental companies have got away with this for far too long!
It is the strong recommendation of the FPSI that if you rent any machine that lifts a person off the ground with hydraulics, that you request proof of mechanic training. If it is from the respective equipment dealer, it is unacceptable - 3 hours (approximately) of training for hydraulic certification is totally insufficient!
Urgent Plea! -
The Fluid Power Safety Institute has offered to help this family meet their monthly financial obligations should this man lose his job because he cares.
If the need arises, we need your contributions - it might be your loved one who's life he saved by doing what is right!
Your comments are welcome.