KEEPING IT SAFE Job and task assessments can improve both job performance and worker safety. BY KEVIN CLARK, P. E., 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. ENSURE * 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 / saminfo.com 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. nsaa.org) 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 them.