operators and I’m truly sorry for tow owners who’ve ever experienced an operator’s avoidable death. While the industry’s environment is inherently dangerous, there’s definite reasoning why training must be specific and repeated. It’s not that we towers are ignorant to acceptable industry techniques, towers, experienced or not, oftentimes become complacent and lose sight of proper safety practices. Could it be the company doesn’t support solid safety practices? In a like-type fatality, one OSHA investigator commented, “The Company had a written safety and health program, but, procedures for this activity were not included in the program.” Little details, like these, surface during official investigations. Note: I didn’t refer to example scenarios as “accidental” situations. I believe that standing walking and working must be an ingrained safety mindset of each individual carrier operator. The way I see it, it’s not an accident when it’s preventable.
WHO’S TO BLAME?
Tow owners should know that lack of safety training for employees is a gamble to their livelihood and assets. Fact: When investigations commence, “Training” always is the first element that is attacked. Inquiring investigators typically ask; 1. Did the operator attend formal or manufacturer training specific to the equipment being operated? 2. Did the company have a written operation’s manual or employee handbook? 3. Was there a written safety manual for task specific operations? 4. Did the operator (recently) attend update safety training regarding work of a specialty nature? 26 • April 2021 | Towman.com
DEMAND BEST PRACTICES
I believe it is important tow companies include load/off-load safety as a special “hands-on” component for carrier operations. Pro-active companies typically hold monthly safety meetings. Handson training is far different than conversation, videos or hand-outs. Hands-on training should be reality based regarding time, weather and a realistic environment that includes the industry’s best practices. Warning: Short-cuts and Hollywood-tricks should never come into play. As a basis to carrier operations, I teach seven safety specific components: 1. Work off the Traffic-Side Carrier operators are most vulnerable to pedestrian strike when working near flowing traffic. You’re reminded to work off the whiteline whenever possible. Be aware of approaching traffic. Work quickly; move-through strike-zones. Maintain focus on dangerous approaching traffic always present on highway’s and inner-city streets. 2. Ensure Free-Spool is Fully Engaged Danger: When free-spool is released to pull cable, ensure freespool is re-engaged. Confirm the free-spool tab is in full “locked” position while giving the winch cable a solid tug. 3. Avoid the Rollaway Zone Vehicle code law puts towers in harm’s way. State and federal regulations require carrier operators attach safety chains to attain fourpoint tie-down. Regardless what size carrier is being operated, work away from the carrier’s tailboard especially while attaching safety chains or straps. Move quickly to avoid being crushed or pinned between vehicles during load and off-load activities. Best depicted in the opening photo, never stand at the rear and in-
line of a vehicle during load and offload. To do so is a deadly possibility. When attaching rear safety-chains or ratchet straps, work to the vehicles outside secure-points; reach under and don’t stand where a runaway vehicle can run over you. 4. Avoid the Pinch-Zone Don’t position behind the deck’s tailboard When securing vehicles for fear of being pinned by a same direction vehicle or should a vehicle run off the deck. 5. Apply Top-Side Safety Danger: Rollaway can happen at any time. Operators typically fail to attach a topside safety device as part of their loading process. As casualty vehicles are winched to transport position; immediately apply topside safety chain or ratchet strap to stop an unannounced rollaway. For training, safety and operational purposes never ignore its importance. 6. Practice Ground-Safety Operators are repeatedly killed by rollaway vehicles during carrier operations. When casualty vehicles get delivered to its destination, chockblocks shall be situated in-front of or behind the parked vehicle’s tires to prevent accidental rollaway. This technique must be part of the offload process. 7. Clear the Rollaway Zone When load off-load processes commence, towers shall not begin winch operations until clearing the rollaway zone of workers, Lookie Loo’s, and first responders. Never allow police officers and fire-fighters to stand behind casualty vehicles.
READY, SET, REPEAT
FACT: On-going safety training is never ending. Management is responsible to hold periodic safety training. Should an injury or death occur, OSHA (or the country’s safety entity) will conduct a thorough investigation; an accidental death