How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
Maintenance and engineering personnel are responsible for a range of tasks in commercial and institutional facilities that take place at high elevations, where no guarded and fixed work surface is available.
These jobs, including relamping lighting fixtures and replacing ceiling tiles, can take hours, so managers must be certain front-line technicians have reliable equipment that will enable them to finish the job safely and efficiently.
Working at high elevations is common for technicians, so managers have made personnel lifts and aerial work platforms essential tools in their equipment arsenals. Mobile aerial work platforms raise workers to an elevated position on a platform supported by scissors, masts or booms. While many managers and technicians are familiar with lifts’ functionality, they need to take proper precautions that allow safe equipment operation.
The unsafe use of lifts can lead to violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, worker injuries, and even death. While many managers profess their commitment to safety as it relates to aerial work platforms, they can take that commitment a step further by developing a formal document that outlines an in-house program for worker protection that complies with federal safety standards.
This process includes developing a written plan for safe operations, including: regulatory compliance; responsibilities; training; inspection, testing, and maintenance; and proper operating procedures.
A written safety program first must define those responsible for the plan. The first area of responsibility identifies the individuals, perhaps the manager, who will review and revise the written program. Managers can perform these tasks on a fixed schedule, but they also will need to do so when they buy new equipment and after incidents or near misses occur.
Next, the plan must identify those responsible for operator training. The trainer must be qualified and understand the specific operations of the unit. The written safety program also must identify those responsible for buying, maintaining and inspecting the equipment. Finally, the written program must list the responsibilities of users and operators, including pre-operation, operation, and post-operation procedures.