Peer to Peer Gear Inspection
By Peggy Drescher
The first step to an accident involves the false belief that experience makes you invulnerable. Seventy-five percent (75%) of all work-related fatalities in the United States come from making a mistake while doing routine work.
Every year at the International Society of Arboriculture International Tree Climbing Championship – World Championship, they hold a gear inspection for climbers and volunteers. Guidelines are maintained regarding competition gear and all competitors and all volunteers who will be working aloft during a competition or its set-up must submit to an inspection of all equipment and equipment systems before entering an event safety zone. This is one of the most important aspects of this competition. If your gear does not pass inspection, you do not participate unless it is corrected and passed by the head judge.
Why not take this routine and build it into your safety program? Although employees should be checking their gear on a daily basis, thoughts like, “I checked it yesterday, my gear is all right, I’ve climbed on it a hundred times, nothings gone wrong, etc.” normalizing and complacency can get in the way.
One way to combat this issue is to do a peer to peer gear inspection on a monthly basis. Some tips to get this going in your company.
You need commitment if you want to establish and sustain an effective new program so make sure you and your management/safety team are on board. You are steering the ship!
Write it into your safety policy. For example, we will perform a peer to peer gear inspection every month on the first Wednesday after dispatch.
Explain it to your crew why this is important and that this is to support the idea of helping each other out. It is not to bust people – it is because you care about each other and another set of eyes is always helpful. It is to correct a conflict with equipment that could cause an accident.
This can be a great way to mentor new employees. Have a veteran employee paired up with a newer employee. Hopefully this will help to invite questions from your crew as to why someone may think the gear is lacking in some way. It is imperative that your employees feel comfortable asking questions and bringing issues up to each other. Or perhaps you can have the crew that is working together that day check each other’s gear out.
Always have a specific area designated for this inspection. Whether this is outside or in a corner of your shop, a dedicated space brings validity to the importance of the gear check and eliminates an excuse for not doing it.
If something has to be taken out of service you must have a backup inventory so there isn’t temptation to ask or allow someone to use the flawed gear for the sake of production.
Train employees on how to properly inspect equipment. Explain it is your duty as part of the Z-133 safety requirements.
Gear inspection should be a dialog, a safe place for employees and management to talk to each other. Encourage your team to take not only responsibility for themselves but others too!
Here are some other helpful links surrounding safety and gear checks…