Everyone Wins with Ironworker Training

Source: JLG

Although Dick Zampa, director of the Ironworkers union permanent training center in California, doesn't have "Matchmaker" listed on his business card, that was exactly the job he performed when he introduced JLG Industries, Ahern Rentals of Northern California and Ironworker Training Coordinators from his area to one another.

The training partnerships all started when Zampa met Jeff Ford, JLG Product Champion, during a one-day operator training session Ford conducted at the 22nd annual Ironworkers training meeting in San Diego. Both Zampa and Ford realized that a one-day session wasn't enough to meet all the needs of the workers, but it was the only amount of time available. A better solution was to organize a three-day JLG Train-the-Trainer session at the Union's regional center in Oakland, California.

The first Train-the-Trainer session was headed by Jim Smith, JLG Training Coordinator, who traveled to Oakland to conduct the training, which used a JLG boom lift, scissor lift and telehandler provided by Ahern Rentals. JLG offers its operator training and Train-the-Trainer course at the McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania factory, in Las Vegas and on location when there are sufficient number of student warrant it. In this instance, there were twelve students from all over California that attended the three-day Train-the-Trainer course covering both aerial work platforms and telehandlers.

Smith devoted the first day of the Train-the-Trainer program to teaching instructional training methods, adult learning styles and theory, equipment operational theory, and how to conduct proper machine inspections.

Day two started the students' oral presentations, which is an evaluation of the students' public speaking abilities and also evaluates their use of the effective training workshop material from day one. The third day was devoted to actually conducting the required inspections on each unit and then performing the hands-on evaluations to demonstrate proficiency and safe operating skills for all three pieces of equipment.

The students were assigned a task to perform with the equipment and were further challenged with hypothetical questions to test their knowledge. Additionally Smith introduced mock hazards for them to avoid to fully complete their assignment. Attendees wrapped up the three-day training event by successfully completing the three written examinations covering proper aerial work platform operation, proper telehandler operation and effective training techniques.

Smith's training classes weren't a holiday for the ironworkers. By the time they had finished, they had ten measurements of their learning progress.

The operational skills and coaching portions of the testing were conducted by the students themselves. They took turns acting as coaches and operating the equipment and then evaluated each other's performance.

It's important to know that simply taking an operator training class does not qualify a student to teach operator safety classes. A comprehensive Train-the-Trainer class is required to qualify the individual to conduct operator training applicable to aerial work platforms or telehandler products. Re-certification is required every five years to maintain qualifications.

Smith said that the twelve ironworkers that took his course, "Did great!" He added, "These guys were already professional instructors, so they were highly motivated to master the material. They know that there are OSHA-enforced regulations that require operators of aerial work platforms and telehandlers be trained. They also know the people they are responsible for teaching need to be proficient and safe operators of the equipment - not only for their own well being, but also for the well being of others on the job site. One of our company's chief concerns is the safe operation of our equipment, so I am really looking forward to continuing the training relationship with our distributors and the iron workers."

Zampa summarized the training experience as a "win, win, win" for everyone involved. Ahern introduced themselves to a new group of customers that are now familiar with the JLG equipment the dealer represents. JLG was able to educate more workers in the safe operation of aerial work platforms and telehandlers, and had the opportunity to demonstrate its brands of equipment to a group of qualified end users. The Ironworkers benefited by gaining knowledgeable trainers among their ranks that can pass on the proper skills of machine operation to their fellow workers.

"Future employers of ironworkers benefit too," added Zampa. "By hiring union ironworkers, they're getting workers that are properly trained in the safe operation of aerial work platforms and telehandlers, and meet OSHA-enforced standards for training which makes for a safer work site. I guess if you add the employers to the mix, it's a win, win, win, win situation, and you can't get much better than that."

About the partners The Union encompasses bridge, structural, reinforcing and ornamental ironworkers. Almost all of the jobs involving bridge and structural erection require the use of aerial work platforms and telehandlers at some point during their construction, so training in the safe operation of this equipment is important to everyone.

JLG, is a leading manufacturer of aerial work platforms and telehandlers, and training is big business. The company not only offers Train-the-Trainer classes (fourteen were conducted over the past 12 months) but also has operator training courses such as the one Ford conducted, and classes in efficient parts purchasing, and a variety of equipment service schools.

Ahern Rentals is a JLG dealer with 29 outlets in the Western states that specialize in the rental of aerial work platforms and telehandlers. Operator training is also a significant part of their business because the company wants rental customers that know how to operate the equipment safely and efficiently.

Read about the revised ANSI standard that aims to clarify and define requirements for training at Responsible Renting