Training Spotlight: IATSE Local 481

Safety Starts Before the Engine

The Scoop on Skid-Steer Training

According to OSHA, "Crushed by Moving Parts" and "Roll Over Accidents" are the leading causes of death and injury to workers who operate skid-steer machinery. In Massachusetts, where IATSE Local 481 represents New England area motion picture studio mechanics, skid-steer operators are required to be state licensed.

As part of their "Safety Starts Before the Engine" course offerings, Local 481 recently provided skid-steer training for over a dozen of their 75 IATSE members who hold Massachusetts Hoisting Engineers licenses. The full day session included a classroom portion at a Boston area film studio and a "hands-on" portion at a local business. The classroom portion covered the dangers of being crushed by the machine's bucket lifting arms if the operator bypasses the interlock system and the dangers of roll-overs if the operator neglects to use the safety belt as required. The indoor session also incorporated a video lesson produced by Bobcat, as well as personal stories from fellow IATSE workers, a walk-around "component identification" exercise, grease gun use, and a written test.  

Each student-worker was also required to display their operating proficiency on the proving grounds: after-hours at a nearby business that sells landscape blocks, gravel, sand, and top soil. Three skid-steer machines with buckets and fork attachments were generously loaned to the Local for the day by NES Rentals, a national chain of equipment rental outfits. Once familiarized with the machine's controls, each student had a minimum of 45 minutes to put their skid-steer through its paces: moving yards of soil with the bucket attachment, then making a quick change to the fork attachment, moving a cable bin from one area of the yard to the top of a short scaffold. Student-workers waiting their turn acted as spotters for the operators, using hand signals to direct the placing of the loads.

In addition to skid-steers, the Local's "Safety Starts Before the Engine" series also includes certifications on boom-lifts, rough terrain and slab scissor-lifts, rough terrain telehandlers (Lulls) and propane powered forklifts.

Instructors Eric Komar and Phil Reilly are both recognized as trainers by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and are members of Local 481's Safety & Training Committee. They both participated in the TTF Train the Trainer session held in Boston in November 2015. This course is an excellent example of the types of safety trainings that can be offered when Local Unions, employers, and equipment suppliers work together to promote worker safety.