Supervisory management leaders of Jackson County, Mo., took the initiative to remove some potential personnel and equipment operation problems with the introduction of standardized training for county highway and heavy equipment operators.
As in many city, town, county, state and other municipal and government situations, Jackson County did not have a uniform standard for equipment operator selection or training. It is not uncommon for operators of equipment owned by government agencies to be selected on the basis of individual interest and seniority. Operator selection may occur without objective evaluation of an individual’s ability or skill level. Training for operation of many types of heavy equipment often consists of orientation by an experienced operator followed by on-the-job experience. Large, powerful, mobile construction equipment often works on or immediately adjacent to car and truck traffic.
Considering these circumstances the occasional accident involving municipal equipment and the driving public is not surprising.
Dr. Ali Roohanirad P.E., acting public works director, along with Sam Davis, road maintenance administrator, and Scott Morello, safety coordinator, recognized the potential for serious incidents and decided to do something about it. After considerable investigation Jackson County contacted VISTA Training Inc. to discuss potential solutions addressing their concerns. VISTA Training has been engaged in development and delivery of heavy equipment operator training programs for over 15 years. The specific problem recognized by Jackson County management had previously been dealt with by VISTA Training for other clients.
Specific Jackson County issues were addressed when VISTA created a course using some already developed materials modified to meet local concerns. This approach capitalized on the use of proven training materials and techniques while at the same time being cost effective. Initially the program was conducted by VISTA personnel with some Jackson County employees selected to do future training in the class. This approach provided a “train-the-trainer” program at the same time a group of county equipment operators were able to critique the training materials for applicability and effectiveness. VISTA then modified the materials based on input from the test group. After VISTA refined the training materials the entire course was turned over to Jackson County for future presentation by county personnel.
Jackson County now has a standardized approach for training personnel selected to operate county equipment. Having a uniform, written pre-operation inspection procedure for all mobile equipment, regulations addressing safe operation, awareness of equipment operating characteristics, operator evaluation standards and an enhanced appreciation for safety has already paid dividends.
The VISTA-created course provides Jackson County trainers a professional, graphically interesting, easy-to-present, easy-to-modify and consistent approach to equipment operator training.