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Canada Conference Participants Motivated to Safer Practices

November 10, 2014 0 Comments

Mike Parnell_CRCCanada2014Participants don’t usually put ideas they’ve picked up at a safety conference into action while the conference is still taking place. Yet that’s precisely what Jay Rivard did during the
fourth annual Crane and Rigging Canada Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, in October.

A structural general foreman in the fabrication division of JV Driver Ltd., Rivard was so moved by a crane insurance expert’s presentation that he booked compaction tests at a project he was working on to ensure that the ground would support a 65-ton rough-terrain crane.

Kevin Cunningham, president of the construction division of Houston International Insurance Group, noted that crane accidents can involve multiple causes, including ground conditions. Rivard realized he needed to have the ground at his project site tested to determine if it could support the crane. “Turns out the ground that was in there could not,” said Rivard, based in nearby Nisku, Alberta. So, by the end of the day, he had quotes from an excavator contractor to rip out the soil and put in a new base. “And I think the work should be starting this afternoon,” Rivard said the day after Cunningham’s presentation.

Keynote sets the tone
Fraser Cocks, executive director of the B.C. Association for Crane Safety, set the tone during his keynote address, recounting experiences from his morning commute when he listened in on
the conversations of some electricians. Cocks was taken aback by their prevailing attitude that safety rules were something they “had to put up with,” despite the dangerous career field. One of the men remained adamant that he wouldn’t intervene if somebody was acting unsafely on the job, nor would he care if someone were killed. Cocks recalled him saying, “‘I’m just here to collect a pay check.’”
Cocks contrasted that attitude with that of his father, a former lineman whose co-workers looked out for each other even during the 1950s, when safety regulations weren’t nearly as stringent. He presented the story as food for thought about how those in the crane industry should approach mentoring younger people. “If they’re not on board with the perspective that we’re trying to instill in them, how do we influence that change?” he posed.

Presenter wrote the book on crane accidents
Cunningham picked up on that theme during his talk: “Those young men you travel with is our reality,” and then added later that “quality of both production and protection is dependent on the same organizational processes…and safety is not a separate issue.”
Helping Cunningham flesh out his presentation was Jim Wiethorn, principal engineer with Haag Engineering of Sugar Land, Texas. Wiethorn’s 2014 publication, titled, “Crane Accidents,” examines in detail 507 crane accidents from 1983 to 2013. The most surprising finding of Wiethorn’s research concerned the most deaths from those crane accidents. It wasn’t crane operators, riggers, or signalers, he pointed out. It was other field personnel, such as concrete finishers. Of the 147 deaths in those 507 cases he documented, 51 were other field personnel, compared with 38 operator, and 24 rigger deaths.
Interactive exercises enlighten and entertain
The conference also featured hands-on exercises designed to prevent accidents. Engineer Yannick Morin, president of Montreal based Kraning Inc., led an interactive workshop that used such mathematical tools as the Pythagorean Theorem to figure out how to rig a load. Before leading a session on lift planning, Mike Parnell, president of Industrial Training International, along with five volunteers, a table, and a tape measure, demonstrated how removing the tension on one of four pick points would reduce the load on the opposite corner but increase it on the other two.

Vic Kaila, an account representative with Titan Supply, was impressed with the conference. “I’m learning about actual lifts and how they actually do the lifting,” he said. Titan was among several firms with table-top displays, including Unirope Ltd., Associated Wire Rope & Rigging Inc., RUD Chain Inc., Modulift, the Crosby Group, and Liebherr-Canada Ltd.

Also presenting at the conference were Denis Hogan, of the U.K.-based Lifting Equipment Engineers Association, and Knut Buschmann, president of Unirope. Buschmann’s session was a sequel to his 2012 presentation on his experiments with wire rope in ultra cold conditions. Nine employees of industrial contractor JV Driver, also revealed how through teamwork the company reduced crane and hoisting rigging incidents from 26% in 2013 to just 1% in 2014.

The conference closed with an update from the Canadian Hoisting & Rigging Safety Council. Cocks recently stepped aside from his role as council chairman, handing the gavel to Tim Bennett, vice president of HS&E, technical training and quality with Edmonton based NCSG Crane & Heavy Haul Inc.

Filed in: CRC Canada

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