[vslider name=”Equipment_Operator_Training”]


You don’t have to be a supervisor or manager to bring a training to your Park; you just have to know who to call. Chris (Lloyd) Kerr is a Motor Vehicle Operator at the Grand Canyon and he attended the Equipment Operator Training held at GRTE in June of 2011. As Collateral Duty Safety Officer for GRCA, he contacted the coordinator with Learning and Development and pursued bringing the training to his co-workers.  He connected with Don Durbin, IMR Heavy Equipment Coordinator, who provided half the funding to bring the Kentucky Safety Training Institute to the park.  GRCA provided the remaining funding.  WASO Learning and Development provided travel scholarships for 7 of the 22 attendees.

Here’s a rundown on topics covered during the class and links to relevant information.


  • Risk Management by Gordon Graham, who proposes taking six minutes every day to talk about safety and repeating safety information to ingrain it in our behavior.  Afterwards the group discussed one of Graham’s points: are all accidents predictable and therefore preventable?  This video is available on CD by request from HPTC Learning and Development office.
  •  Basic Safety and as always, there was an emphasis on Complacency.
  • During the Lock-out Tag-out session, Greene suggested Parks that share equipment should also share their Lock-out Tag-out policies or develop them in concert so employees of each Park are familiar with the policy’s requirements. One participant asked about how to acquire LOTO equipment; one source is EnviroSafety Products which offers a steering wheel cover.  Many of these items can also be purchased on GSA Advantage.
  • Fire Extinguishers are required on heavy equipment; a 30lb extinguisher would be adequate but typically extinguishers found on equipment aren’t this large.  To fulfill yearly OSHA training requirements there is an online Fire Extinguisher training, available through DOILearn.  There was also mention of the dangers of hot, pressurized hydraulic fluid: if pressurized fluid injects the skin, seek IMMEDIATE attention.  Follow this link for graphic photos of the damage that can be caused by a tiny injection of fluid such as diesel, paint and oils.


After lunch the Job Hazard Analysis process was reviewed and the class split into smaller groups to complete a JHA checklist created by the KSTI.  The day ended with a presentation on Pre-Shift Inspections and the benefit of having check-lists to document equipment conditions, and to ensure thorough consistent inspections every time.


  • Personal Protective Equipment:several people acknowledged that they suffer from tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears resulting from long term hearing damage.  Visit the American Tinitus Association Website to experience tinnitus or to mix a sound palette to help sooth the ringing in sufferers’ ears.  An iPhone app is available to measure decibels and determine when hearing protection is necessary.  Other lesser-known available PPE is screened safety glasses that don’t fog up but they are not impact resistant.
  • The Heavy Equipment Safety presentation emphasized never operating a piece of equipment that you’re not comfortable with.  Safety issues particular to the most common types of heavy equipment (dozers, backhoes, frontend loaders, etc.) were discussed. They also covered tips for ground-based workers and the importance of knowing hand-signals.  There are a variety of sources for purchasing hand signal charts; since there may be slight variations between offerings, it’s vital that everyone on the crew be using the same resource.
  • Everyone was provided with the Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers by JJKeller which conveys the minimum DOT standards; individual states may have more stringent regulations.  Each park represented was provided with at least one chain gauge and one cargo securement calculator.
  • After lunch the class moved out to the Park’s maintenance yard and performed pre-shift inspections on the Park’s backhoe, dump truck and front-end loader.  There was also a demonstration of how to safely load and unload equipment.


  •  Instructors covered Skid Steer Loaders, Tractors, Jump Starting Batteries, and Bucket Trucks.
  • Tractor Safety included a video about Roll-Over Protection Systems, which emphasized the use of seatbelts when operating machinery equipped with ROPS.  This video can be viewed any time at the National Ag Safety Database.  One of the participants shared the importance of having a rescue plan anytime you’re working off the ground and to share that plan with the local rescue operations to ensure they have the capability to assist in an emergency situation.
  •  Operational Leadership was a review of the program materials for the majority of the class.  The class moved to the park’s bone yard in the afternoon to practice operating a backhoe, front-end loader, D9 dozer and road grader.


  • A session on Learning and Development provided a variety of ideas and actions that employees can take to plan their NPS careers.    There is a webinar offered on the fourth Thursday of the month for both employees and supervisors to learn to use DOILearn better: it can be found by searching the phrase UPGRADE INTRO.  Everyone was provided with a blank Individual Development Plan.  The “IDP Resource Guide” was made available and can also be downloaded from InsideNPS.  Another resource is the “Summary of Occupational Safety & Health Training and Frequency Requirements”.
  • The requirements for the Trenching and Excavating competent person often take class participants by surprise.  Training for Trenching Awareness is available through the Skilsoft resource on DOILearn, but it isn’t Competent Person training.  However, OSHA has a searchable database of all the classes offered by OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers which are authorized by OSHA to deliver occupational safety and health training to public and private sector workers, supervisors, and employers on behalf of OSHA.  Go to http://www.osha.gov/dte/ecd/course_otiec_search_public.html and search for class #3010.
  • Temporary Traffic Control: all participants were provided with a copy of the “Guide to Temporary Traffic Control” distributed by the ATSSA and each park was provided with a temporary traffic control slide chart.  Flagger training that meets state certification requirements is available at http://www.onlineflagger.com/
  • The afternoon was spent in the park’s bone yard with the participants continuing to practice operation of the park’s heavy equipment.


The morning also included a presentation on UTV’s and Mowers, The class viewed NCPTT’s video about Turf Management in Historic Landscapes.  The video provides excellent ideas but also features the risky practice of operating a riding mower with the mower chute guard raised up, a trick often employed to prevent clippings from clogging the chute that is NOT recommended.

What did participants get out of the class? They shared these thoughts:

  • The hands-on operation reinforced to new operators how powerful the equipment is and how quickly the equipment can get out of control
  • The pre-shift inspection is a practice that needs to be added to their S.O.P’s
  • Realizing that there were standards for securing equipment, traffic control and trenching came as a surprise to several participants.
  • Keeping good lines of communication between management and workers was the most important take-away for some as well as keeping a positive attitude about safety and their job.


Tagged with →  
Share →

2 Responses to Heavy Equipment Operator Safety Training

  1. I have found that a great place to get proper heavy equipment training is at West Coast Training. I had a great experience and have heard others have as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>