Safety Tips for Sweeping Professionals
Preventing Operator Slip-and-Fall Accidents When Dumping a Sweeper Hopper
The fleet supervisor for Oregon-based, Cantel Sweeping, discovered a disproportionate number of on-the-job accidents were as a result of operators opening exterior hopper doors prior to dumping. In-cab operated actuators have now been installed to address the problem.
This information was provided to WorldSweeper by the management team of Cantel Sweeping, for the general benefit of others in the power sweeping industry.
Dustin Moist oversees a fleet of 18 sweeper trucks for Cantel Sweeping, the largest parking lot sweeping company in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. One of his jobs is to ensure that the trucks and equipment used by Cantel Sweeping is maintained and operated in the safest manner possible.
So, every time there is any type of accident at the company, Dustin does a thorough accident review. He inspects the equipment involved, the employee involved and any training that addresses the specific activity involved. His main focus for any accident review is not to punish anyone, but to determine the cause. The ultimate question is always, "How can we prevent this from happening again?"
Recently, a routine accident review caused Dustin to ask that question in a slightly different way.
Parking lot sweeper trucks do their job by vacuuming up trash, debris and leaves into a debris hopper. When the hopper needs to be dumped it is tipped up by hydraulic jacks, which then allow the sweepings to be dumped into a dumpster or at a debris-sorting facility. The operator is typically able to control all aspects of the hopper dump action from within the truck cab – with the lone exception of unlatching the hopper door.
Prior to dumping, on most sweeper models the operator has to exit the cab and manually open the hopper door. This is typically done by the operator exiting the truck chassis and then stepping up onto the truck's rear bumper.
When Dustin looked into all the previous accidents at Cantel Sweeping he noted there were three accidents with very similar characteristics; all involved the activity of dumping the sweeper's hopper. And, in each accident, the accident was the result of the operator slipping off the rear bumper while opening or closing the hopper dump door.
As a result of his finding, Dustin then determined to ask the accident review question a little differently. His replacement question was: "How can we do our job differently to avoid the risky activity?" The answer was a $400 electric actuator.
The actuator is operated using a switch in the cab. The operator pushes the switch, the hopper door opens and the driver does not have to even leave the cab. The entire dumping operation may then be accomplished from inside the cab.
Because certain trucks operated their hopper doors differently, Dustin determined that only 12 of Cantel's 18 sweeper trucks could benefit from the addition of these actuators. However, even that many represented an investment of $4,800.
Dustin's concern about the cost was quickly dismissed when he presented the idea to Michael Wagoner, the company's president/owner. Wagoner, who is a strong believer in providing safe equipment to his workers, instructed that the actuators should be ordered and installed.
"I felt the only responsible action was to install the actuators wherever it was possible," said Wagoner. "When one weighs the $400 cost of one actuator against the thousands of dollars it would cost for only one accident, it made complete sense to make the investment. And, that's without even factoring in the equal concern that one of our employees might sustain an injury."
The next day Dustin ordered 12 actuators and they have now been installed on all the sweepers in the Cantel fleet able to utilize them. The company policy on sweeper purchases has also been changed: all new sweepers are to be ordered with factory-installed actuators.
Cantel Sweeping was WorldSweeper.com's Featured Contractor in November of 2011.
If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact WorldSweeper.com or Michael Wagoner, president of Cantel Sweeping. Wagoner may be reached by calling 503-661-4337. His email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Cantel Sweeping's website is www.cantelsweeping.com.
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