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Job and task assessments can improve both
job performance and worker safety.
Director of Engineering and Development,
Ancam Solutions Company Ltd.

Maintenance staffs require a wide               work to really make their operations safe          brittle bar, you prepare your personal pro-
range of skills to provide the level of         and productive.                                    tection equipment (PPE) for working at
service and reliability that guests                                                                heights, call for another mechanic to support
expect. Your maintenance staff have             THE GOOD OLD DAYS ARE GONE                         you on the repair from the ground or the oper-
to be on target, all the time. Every            Does the following scene sound familiar?           ator station, make sure your radio batteries
assignment must be done right, every                 The radio says there’s a ground fault on      are charged, and safely access the tower with
activity must be done when required,            tower 7 of the main lift, and the lift is down     the support of other safety pros on the hill. You
and mistakes are simply not an                  with a line of full chairs. Knowing that it’s      climb the tower ladder, using a safe climbing
option. To approach this ideal, they            cold and dark, and that the likely cause is a      technique. Then you tie off 100 percent to pre-
need a solid system of procedures—              broken brittle bar, you jump on a sled with        vent an accidental fall, and anchor yourself to
and a commitment to follow them.                wrenches and a spare brittle bar in hand.          a suitable location on the tower head. You
    The obstacles are many. Mainte-             With all those guests in the air and getting       quickly diagnose the problem and confirm
nance mechanics may or may not have             cold, you scramble up the tower and proceed        your assumption.
formal trade training (millwrighting,           to the lead-in sheave switch set. You quickly            You then call your support to lock out the
welding, and electronics to name a few).        diagnose the problem, confirm your assump-         lift and confirm it cannot be started without
The nature and location of the work fur-        tion, and replace the switch. Then you settle in   your command, to allow reasonably safe
ther complicate maintenance activities.         on the tower head to observe operations; after     access to the sheave train and to replace the
Given the unique demands of the work            about 20 minutes, as the cold settles in, you      switch. A radio communiqué between your
environment, maintenance staff must             deem the repair a success, and descend the         position and the operator station verifies the
use the best available processes and pro-       tower. Then you bomb back down the hill to         repair while you are in position, before the
cedures to ensure that their work is done       the safety and comfort of the maintenance          lift is re-started, and the radio call confirms
to the highest possible standard and in         shop to warm up and move on to the next            you are safely away from the hazards of the
the safest possible manner. What they           task.                                              operating machine before the lift is re-start-
need, in short, is a state-of-the-art mainte-        That’s how it was in the good old             ed. You settle in on the tower head to observe
nance worker protocol.                          days. In today’s safer world, the same sce-        operations; after about 20 minutes, as the cold
    As a manager, your goal is to provide       nario might play out as follows:                   settles in, you coordinate with other profes-
the tools your mechanic teams need,                  The radio says there’s a ground fault on      sionals on the team to confirm the success of
                                                                                                                                                       39 / July 2010

develop a safety culture by promoting           tower 7 of the main lift and the lift is down      the repair and descend the tower, again using
proper ways of working, and then                with a line of full chairs. Knowing that it’s      a safe climbing technique, and 100 percent
employ advanced technology and team-            cold, dark and that the likely cause is a broken   tie off. Later, you regroup with the team to
                                         debrief and document the repair, to under-        Figure A
                                         stand the cause of the problem to devise a plan
                                                                                                                           WELDING STA
                                         to prevent its future occurrence.
                                                                                                * that gas cylinders are secured in upright position
                                         IN WITH THE NEW                                        * that oxygen cylinders and fittings are kept clean from oil and grease
                                                                                                * that the mobile local exhaust is in position to remove fume from your breathing zone
                                         We used to take so many chances for the                    INSPECT
                                         benefit of our patrons. Fortunately, we                * Full length of hoses
                                                                                                * Regulators and their associated gauges
                                         now have better personal protective                    * Torches for leaking shut off valves, couplings and connections
                                         equipment, protocols and procedures                         ALL DEFECTIVE EQUIPMENT IS TO BE IMMEDIATELY REMOVED FROM SERVICE
                                         today. And we know that it’s worth using                       RESPIRATORS ARE NECESSARY FOR WELDING WITH:
                                                                                                     Fluorine Compounds, Lead, Beryllium, Mercury, Zinc, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Cadmium, Cleaning Compounds
                                         these, for our own safety. It won’t hurt the
                                                                                                       PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
                                         guests if it takes us a few minutes longer             *    Supplied flame retardant uniform
                                                                                                *    Welding gloves
                                         to do the job the right way.                           *    Skull cap
                                             Oh, and it’s also required by govern-              *    Welding helmet
                                                                                                *    Safety glasses with side shields
                                         ment regulations.
                                             All our work, at ski areas and in other        Here is a typical Safety for the Task Assessment specific to welding.
                                         industries, is guided by government reg-
                                         ulations for industrial establishments.           Figure B
                                         While these rules can sometimes seem               Mechanic Name: Louis Example
                                         onerous, they generally succeed at pro-            Employee No: 1
                                                                                            JSA Date:            Date the work is planned for completion
                                         moting a safe work environment. And                JSA Category:        Daily maintenance work
                                         they are mandatory.                                Required / Recommended PPE                   Weather-appropriate gear for outdoor work, gloves, safety glasses for shop work,
                                                                                                                                         harness, lanyards and anchor strap for working at heights.
                                             When a worker is injured during the
                                                                                            Job Basic Job Steps                          Potential Hazards                     Recommended Action or Procedure
                                         course of his or her work, authorities             1       Snowmobile repair: position sled     Slip, trip or fall, entrapment or     Ensure work area is clean and clear, boots are tied and have good
                                         such as OSHA investigate; and these                        in shop to allow work on engine,     crush as the sled is positioned,      treads, use rated and proper blocking devices or jack stands,
                                                                                                    remove covers to expose manifold,    pinch points, burns, exposure to      use gloves and safety glasses while completing troubleshooting
                                         investigations have become more com-                       troubleshoot and diagnose, repair    fumes during repair, vehicle opera-   and repair, use helmet and snowmobile safety gear during test
                                                                                                    if possible, test on completion      tion hazards during checkout ride     run; ensure that location is safe for intended activity
                                         mon in the past year or so in our industry.
                                                                                            2       Investigate and repair (if possible) Slip, trip or fall, exposure to       Ensure work area is clean and clear, boots are tied and have good
                                         In many instances, workers or their man-                   leaking snowmaking hydrant on        high pressure fluids, exposure        treads, lock out and tag out all energy sources on lines where
                                                                                                    hill next to run                     to outdooor weather, impact           work is planned, use gloves and safety glasses while completing
                                         agers are subject to fines or charges if neg-                                                   from patron                           troubleshooting and repair, use helmet and snowmobile safety
                                         ligence is discovered, all of which can be                                                                                            gear while on hill; ensure that work location is safe for access and
                                                                                                                                                                               work, use bollards or equipment to protect work position, utilize
                                         avoided by following a few rules, among                                                                                               STA for repair on snowmaking pipe
                                                                                            3       Investigate and diagnose lift        Slip, trip or fall, working at        Ensure work area is clean and clear, boots are tied and have good
                                         them:                                                                                           heights, impact, entanglement,        treads, lock out and tag out all energy sources on lines where
                                             By law, workers must:                                                                       exposure to winter weather            work is planned, use gloves and safety glasses while completing
                                                                                                                                                                               troubleshooting and repair, use helmet and snowmobile safety
                                             • understand and follow The Occu-                                                                                                 gear while on hill; ensure that work location is safe for access and
                                                                                                                                                                               work, don proper PPE for working at heights, utilize STA for
                                         pational Safety and Health Act                                                                                                        accessing lift tower head work position
                                             • follow safe work procedures
                                             • use personal protective equipment,           This Job Safety Assessment covers three different tasks that a mechanic might encounter on the job.
                                         machine guards and safety devices
                                             • report unsafe conditions and acts           TOOLS FOR SAFETY                                                                as an example, the task of welding a
                                             • report accidents, incidents, injuries       To make sure you are doing the right                                            cracked joint on a terrain park feature.
                                         and illness immediately.                          thing for both employees and resort                                             The Safety for the Task Assessment would
                                             Similarly, legislation requires               guests, two useful tools are Safety for the                                     look something like Figure A, above.
                                         employers to provide a safe and healthy           Task Assessments (STA) and Job Safety                                               A Job Safety Assessment (JSA) has a
                                         workplace. Among the requirements:                (or hazard) Assessments (JSA). These                                            wider scope than the STA, as a job may
                                             • make sure all health and safety             tools are commonly used to anticipate                                           require more than one task. STAs are gen-
                                         requirements are met                              the hazards that might be encountered                                           erally used by workers on a daily basis for
                                             • establish and maintain a health             during the work, and to prescribe the pre-                                      expected work during a day/shift or other
                                         and safety program                                ventive means to avoid them.                                                    period. The JSA defines the work planned,
                                             • ensure associates have the informa-
40 / ski area management /

                                                                                                Every task has a starting point and an                                     the hazards expected, and the mitigating
                                         tion, training, certification, supervision        ending point. The task can be broken                                            means that the worker will use to ensure
                                         and experience to do their jobs safely            down to a series of repeatable steps which,                                     that they complete the tasks safely.
                                             • ensure that material and equip-             when completed in the same manner                                                   In the course of any regular operat-
                                         ment is stored, labeled, transported and          each and every time, will ensure a consis-                                      ing day, a ski area mechanic might fix a
                                         used safely                                       tent result and safe work practices. A Safe-                                    snowmobile, repair a leaking snowmak-
                                             • provide medical/first aid                   ty for the Task Assessment (STA) outlines                                       ing pipe, or fix a lift; the intent of each
                                             • ensure associates participate in            the steps of a defined task to ensure that                                      JSA is to focus the mechanic on the prop-
                                         health and safety discussions.                    the worker uses the proper method. Take,                                        er tools and personal protective equip-
 Before heading out on a job, use “safety for the task” and “job hazard” assessments to ensure you have all the necessary tools and safety equipment.

ment (PPE) to complete each of these jobs
in a compliant and safe manner. An                      PPE, ANCHORS, AND OTHER TOOLS
example of a Job Safety Assessment is                   A ski area mechanic works in a variety of positions—on the ground, in the air, wherever the
shown (facing page, Figure B) completed                 work requires completion. Through the course of a normal day, a mechanic might don a har-
for the three tasks described earlier.                  ness, ride a snowmobile, or use a specialized tool to adjust a complex hydraulic or pneumat-
     When a fully implemented safety                    ic system. Each activity could require specific personal protective gear, and a mechanic
documentation system is in place, each                  must be competent in use of all of these.
job is planned, completed and recorded                       Personal protective gear for maintenance personnel typically includes steel-toed boots,
on a regular basis. These records, in turn,             a hardhat, safety glasses, gloves, a lock with a tag identifying the mechanic, a harness with
facilitate work planning and due dili-                  lanyards to ensure 100 percent tie-off, communication gear, plus other specialized tools.
gence. This is simply the best way to                        Anchors are required when working at a height. There is a rigid definition of the height
track the department’s performance and                  above which this is required, and of the equipment required. The anchor, for example, must
continually improve procedures and                      have a 5,000-pound capacity, and be engineered to ensure that the worker has proper tie
processes.                                              off while working above the ground. In the case of a tower head repair, as in our first exam-
     To help resorts develop Job Hazard                 ple, the mechanic would ensure that he had an anchor strap to wrap the tower head struc-
Assessments (JHAs), the National Ski                    ture, and lanyards to secure himself to the anchor the entire time he was in position. (There
Areas Association (NSAA) is working                     is an obvious element of training for working at heights,0 which is part of the mechanic’s
with resorts and insurance companies to                 preparation, too.)
create JHAs for many resort departments,                     Equipment inspection is the best means to ensure that your PPE is fit for service when
including lift ops and maintenance, ski                 you need it. Every manufacturer of PPE lists inspection criteria on the item tag or instruc-
patrol, terrain parks, snowmaking, and                  tion sheet; third-party inspection is a viable option for those not wanting to complete this
groomers. According to Dave Byrd, NSAA                  vital activity themselves.
director of education and risk, the JHAs                     How important is this inspection? Very. You need to know that your gear is in good
could be posted to the NSAA website                     shape before it is used or required; our motto is, “you only wear it if your life can depend
(www. by early July. He sug-                  on it.”
gests that areas download the Word doc-                      Lock-out, tag-out, of course, is a key part of maintenance protocol. Locking out energy
uments and modify them to suit the                      sources is the best way to ensure that a mechanic is not exposed to hazards of operating
resorts’ specific facilities and procedures.            equipment. If work is required on operating systems, extra vigilance is required to ensure a
     While NSAA has been trying to                      good project and a safe result. Take extra precautions to ensure safety when working
determine what types of workers’ comp                   remotely from controls.
incidents are most common and there-                         Incorporating STAs and JSAs into your maintenance work is a simple process, but
fore are most in need of attention, Byrd                requires a dedicated approach. Instruction and training is typically required for teams new
notes that resorts can review their own                 to these methods. Coaching and confirmation will also ensure success.
data, to figure out what specific types of                   Know that every accident is avoidable, and that there is no job worth risking your
                                                                                                                                                        41 / July 2010

injuries are occurring and why, so that                 life/limb for. Implementing improved processes is a good thing—a safer way of working is a
they can devise specific solutions for                  better way of working.                                                                    —KC

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