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Equipment Rental: Eye on Operators

August 2014 - Emergency Preparedness


Equipment Rental: Eye on Operators

Maintenance and engineering managers making equipment-rental decisions as part of emergency preparedness planning need to carefully consider the issue of selecting equipment operators. Will it be in-house maintenance personnel or temporary, contracted equipment operators that the manager or the rental agent selects?

Training and experience in operation, maintenance and safety are key considerations in the decision. Operating equipment during and after an emergency will test the skills of even the most experienced operator.

Managers need to review the specialized skills that each piece of equipment requires. Because regulations, codes, and equipment change constantly, one important factor involves how recently a potential operator's training and certification took place.

Managers are all too aware of documented instances of rental equipment accidentally going through walls, cranes tipping under load, units backing into objects and people on job sites. To prevent such incidents, managers must be sure all safety devices work and that operators maintain them properly.

A reliable rental company can provide operator references from previous jobs. Managers should try to find a potential equipment rental company with experience working in emergencies.

Managers also should ask how the rental company plans to provide quality service for the equipment during the emergency-response period, whether it can guarantee time-sensitive delivery, and whether it can provide same-day replacement if a unit fails during the project.

Before agreeing to rent a piece of equipment, managers and operators also should inspect the unit under consideration and get an operational demonstration from the company. Ask the agent to show operators steps in the daily preventive inspection, as well as start-up checks to perform each time they operate the equipment.

— Thomas A. Westerkamp





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