National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Services, NAHETS Blog

Archive for April, 2007

Hybrid Heavy Equipment

Posted by Taylor Morris on April 23, 2007

It is expected that by 2009 hybrid pieces of heavy equipment will be sold commercially, in conjunction with Mack Trucks, a section of Swedish Volvo Group. They are directly involved with heavy equipment for the construction and mining industry.

With gas prices on the rise consumers are constantly looking to cut on costs and find cheaper ways to get around. The U.S. military is at the top of the list, consuming as much oil in 6 days that Canada consumes in a year, with the air force operating thousands of pieces of heavy equipment.

Two types of hybrids are in production to increase efficiency in vehicles and equipment, as well as decrease expenses. The two hybrids are the ‘parallel hybrid’ and the ‘series hybrid’. There is also a third hybrid technology being evaluated, the hydraulic drive.

The two hybrids use less fuel, create less pollutants, and have a higher purchasing cost. However, the cut in fuel costs is expected to compensate for higher prices.

Overall, it is expected that the hybrid heavy equipment, as well as other hybrid vehicles, will operate more efficiently than current motors and engines, be more friendly to the environment, and be more productive and efficient in accomplishing their tasks.

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Remembering a crane hero

Posted by nahetsblog on April 19, 2007

In recalling events and heroics from World War II, most are quick to speak about Hitler, the Holocaust, the beaches of Normandy, and purple hearts. As these things well deserve the attention they receive, not all war-bound heroics are of such magnitude and recognition. There are a few who still remember what a lone teenager did with a crane.

At the age of 14 Charlie Carraban left his home in Ireland and came to England, where he began working at a coal yard in Redditch. In February 1941 a government official came to the yard because the crane needed to be transported to Saltley Gas Works some 30 miles away, where a lorry was to pick it up. In waiting for this, the Saltley plant was bombed and the lorry no more coming, but the crane still needed to be transported. At the age of 17, having never driven a crane before, Carraban decided he would drive the crane to its destination, with assistance of fellow workers.

The crane was 40 ft high and traveled only 5 mph. Carraban had to drive it 30 miles, in the midst of air raids and icy wet roads, while rescuing victims of German bombers in the process. He miraculously managed to drive the crane into a bombed building with a victim family inside, and dig them out to safety. At one point, a German aircraft pelted the crane with bullet holes and was shot down by one George Fox with a rifle as the aircraft attempted a second assault.
It took three days in these conditions to arrive at the Saltley Gas Works destination, and Carraban operated the crane the whole time.

Charlie Carraban died at age 90 on April 10, 2007 in the Alexandria Hospital. Until his death, Carraban was spoken of as a family man. The sole accomplishment of driving a crane 30 miles, with German aircraft overhead and icy slippery roads, having never driven a crane before, is enough to remember and recognize. Even more admirable, was the rescuing of a family in the process. To this day, Carraban is known as one of the “heroes of Redditch.”

Read more on this story here.

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Step Forward in Construction Crane Safety

Posted by nahetsblog on April 10, 2007

Last November a 210 foot crane collapsed in Bellevue, WA and killed a man, causing heavy damage to three buildings in the process. It was considered “one of the worst construction disasters in state history.” This accident is the catalyst for new crane safety rules and guidelines.
The need for standardization in crane and heavy equipment operating safety is not new and has been analyzed before. Matt Klabacka, President and Co-Founder of the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools has long foreseen the need for national certification of heavy equipment operators and greater safety training. “The future is going to be certification,” Klabacka stated, and further explained that NAHETS “is an effort to standardize the heavy-equipment industry… right now it’s very unregulated.” This is one of the key reasons for his decision to create NAHETS.

By 2010 it is expected that increased crane safety laws will be implemented in the state of Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire has already expressed her approval of the new laws and is committed to sign them in when the time comes. Washington state legislators were surprised to learn that there are no training, background checks, or drug testing requirements for crane operators. The NCCCO-National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators reported that only 14 states currently have such requirements, with many more in the process of adopting such requirements.

The new safety laws are expected to certify not only the crane operators, but the cranes as well, due to the belief that the recent accident was caused by a failure in the base of the crane. Operators will be expected to have a certain number of documented training hours and pass certain testing requirements. Similarly, the cranes themselves will be tested for structural problems. Such laws will not only increase the safety of crane workers, but for all workers.

With crane accidents still occurring, as well as other heavy equipment accidents, there will no doubt be a necessity for improving safety standards in the industry. The example of Washington State is simply a foreshadow of what is to come.

Related articles:

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Heavy Equipment Rodeo

Posted by nahetsblog on April 5, 2007

Every two years Toronto, Canada hosts The National Heavy Equipment Show, the most recent just having ended on March 21-22, 2007. This year the show drew a record number in audience, exceeding 11,000 visitors.

One of the prestigious events in the show is the Backhoe Rodeo. It’s been nearly 10 years, and Octavio Miranda still not considered a “rodeo champ.” Miranda, a long time backhoe rodeo competitor, achieved his goal this year. Miranda out-dueled his main competitor and defending champ, Joe Trecapelli, in a series of events. The backhoe rodeo includes contestants knocking balls off of pylons; pouring wine into three glasses; moving two buckets and a 4×4 beam with vintage backhoe controls; and placing two hula hoops on a rack with a three-pronged hook. All events were performed by a four-stick Case 580 model backhoe. This year Miranda finally became the Backhoe Rodeo Grand Champion.

The backhoe rodeo is “fun,” but takes skill and “tests even the most seasoned operator.” For the next two years, Miranda can claim bragging rights as being one of the elite in heavy equipment operating.

NAHETS understands what it means to combine fun with skill in heavy equipment operating. As part of its various training programs, the different training schools have an “egg rodeo” where students who have been training attempt to pick-up an egg off the dirt and place it in an egg carton, without cracking it. This is done with the bucket attachment of a backhoe. To view a video of this see:

Events such as the backhoe rodeo at the National Heavy Equipment Show, and the egg rodeo at NAHETS training schools, exemplify the excitement and standards of the heavy equipment industry. These events reflect the skill and capabilities of operators. Despite preconceived notions, certified and qualified equipment operators are more than just guys in t-shirts who move a couple controls around with a cigarette in their mouth.

NAHETS graduates are among the elite in heavy equipment training, education, and operating. The backhoe competition and egg rodeo are simply a mesh and example of higher standards, greater skill, and more fun.

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Accidents Plague Construction Industry

Posted by nahetsblog on April 3, 2007

In the last few weeks numerous accidents have been reported involving construction sites and heavy equipment. Some have resulted in deaths, others in injuries, and fortunately some in neither. However, the concerns of safety and monetary costs are undoubtedly at threat in all incidents.

In Darwin, Australia two families barely escaped injury and possible death as a 50-ton crane crashed into their homes.

Liverpool, UK has suffered its third crane death this year. One man was killed at Wavetree Technology Park when a crane fell on him while another was injured. Another was killed by a steel girder, and the last was killed by a crane collapse in the city centre.

Six construction workers were buried last Wednesday in Beijing, China when a subway construction site collapsed in on them. Their fate remains unknown.

A man was killed in New Zealand on March 31 when the crane on his truck and trailer fell and crushed him.

Four workers excavating and working on the basement of a three-story home in San Francisco were hospitalized with minor injuries after the earth caved in around them.

In San Antonio, TX a crane snapped and sent metal beams onto the 410 freeway. Fortunately, the freeway was already closed for construction work, and no workers were injured.

It is obvious that accidents are occurring too frequently in the construction and heavy equipment industry throughout the world. Some may be unpreventable due to natural causes or other means, but one thing that will assuredly help minimize these accidents is an increased emphasis on safety procedures.

In construction and heavy equipment industries there should be regularly occurring inspections on all pieces of equipment, certified and qualified operators for every piece of equipment, as well as certified and qualified managerial staff on site. Knowing emergency procedures and having emergency plans, as well as trustworthy and capable workers are only scratching the surface in aspects of heavy equipment accident prevention.

Perhaps the only positive thing to be gained from these tragic accidents is to learn from them. Such accidents may be able to help the industry eliminate the root of the problem. The goal is an accident-free industry. This is the aim of The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools-NAHETS.

Posted in accidents, Education & Training, Standards & Safety | 1 Comment »