ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala --- Is material handling a safety concern to you while here on the depot? It should be! Surprisingly, it’s a source of many safety issues within most field operations, depots & arsenals, private sector businesses and workplaces around the world.
Supervisors, lead personnel, safety monitors and all material handling personnel must be properly trained. They must also take into account all of the information listed in the applicable equipment operator manuals, technical manuals, job instructions and Job Hazard Analysis, or JHA
forms that have been completed and approved for the specific task in which they are assigned.
Additionally, all employees should be on the look out for misuse, mishandling, unsafe lifting or transportation practices. All on site personnel have the right to give a “stop” signal to the operator if they see something that is unsafe or dangerous. Remember, “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!”
The mitigation of safety risks starts with proper training in hazard awareness, shop procedures, equipment safety and proper operation of the equipment. The day to day handing of materials will continue to be free of accident or injury when safety procedures are consistently followed. The foundation for a safe workplace starts with everyone following policies, procedures, regulations, shop instructions and safe work practices that have been put in place.
One commonality all of the hazards in material hand-ling share is the qualifications of operators and thorough accountability of corrective actions whenever unsafe operations are witnessed.
It is the responsibility of the equipment operator, shop supervisor and mentor to ensure that competent and qualified personnel are assigned to do the job. It is also the responsibility of supervisors to ensure that equipment operators are following all safe work practices and correcting unsafe lifting and transportation habits. Look at it like this: certification is like having a driver’s license. Just because you have a driver’s license doesn’t mean you are a good driver. Similarly, just because someone has a government motor vehicle operator’s identification card doesn’t mean they are a safe operator.
Within the last six months, the depot and its supervisory staff has reviewed, revised and implemented a more direct approach to target our deficiencies by updating the ANAD Regulation 385-29 for Cranes, Hoists, Cables, Ropes, and Slings. The ANAD Standard Operating Procedure for the Driver’s Training Program was updated and approved in January 2021.
As a result, a new type of “Train the Trainer” program was conducted March 1 through 5. The program covered overhead crane operation, forklift operation, warehouse tractor operation, all terrain vehicle / utility task vehicles operation, and an introduction to rigging with safe handling techniques. The ANAD 385-17 Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention policy is currently under review to ensure that it also takes into consideration these updates and reflects the changes made to improve safety, which helps to establish “what looks right.”
The path forward will focus on providing this training and information to the personnel who need it. This will require participation from all directors, staff, supervisors, safety monitors, and assigned shop mentors. This may seem difficult to begin with, but with continued movement in the forward direction, we all can achieve excellence and success to improve the way that our material handling operations are conducted.
This new training has started within the Training Department and Motor Pool, but ultimately will become the responsibility of the supervisor, shop mentor, safety monitor and shop employees who are conducting the designated on-the-job training for new employees along with continual refresher training for current employees.
It all comes down to having a culture and mindset of SAFETY. The most important reason for any material handling safety program is to save lives, reduce accidents who cause employee injury or property damage, and to ensure that every lift and transportation of material and components is successful. When the time is spent to ensure that our people are adequately trained, properly managed and held accountable to the highest standard, then we will see that every lift is made without error. Once this is completed and working as it is designed, we will see that the efficiency of our material handlers will become the greatest producer of our productivity and performance management.