Following Safety and Regulatory Trends

While crane operator certification continues to have significance for the industry, it is not the only regulatory issue impacting crane and rigging operations. Updates to ASME standards, evolving safety trends, and other regulations intersect with crane and rigging operations. Unfortunately, there is no single road map to guide safety managers. This overview of crane and rigging industry standards and regulatory issues hits the highlights to give trainers, safety managers, and field supervisors ideas of what issues they may need to research more deeply.

Reach full article published in Crane and Rigging Hot Line magazine, August 2014.

Essentials of Good Training

Ask any training professional from any industry, and the answer will be some variation on the same thing. Quality training must include instructors who are passionate, subject-matter experts; program materials that are designed to meet clear course objectives with information that is presented to students multiple ways; opportunities for students to apply the knowledge they’ve gained through problem-solving or hands-on activities; and an evaluation or performance assessment to determine what the students have learned.

Read full article published in Crane & Rigging Hot Line magazine, April 2014.

10 Tips for ConExpo-Con/Agg Newbies

Next week will be my 8th consecutive ConExpo and I’m starting to get excited. Just thought I’d share some of my learned-the-hard-way advice for any of you who have never been before.

1. Bring lots of shoes. One set for day and one set for night, plus an alternate set. Comfort, not fashion, should be the rule. In 1993 I ended the week with heels that were a bloody mess. Never will I wear cute shoes at ConExpo again.

2. It’s dry and windy and smoky. Bring chapstick, sunscreen, lotion and eye drops. My go-to is medicated eye-pads that refresh and revive after late nights and long days. Speaking of eyes, don’t forget sunglasses and hats.

3. Water! It’s dry and windy and smoky. (Oh, I already said that). Stay hydrated.

4. Layers. The extended forecast looks pretty nice with wind picking up at the end of the week.  But I’ve been there when 70 mph winds came through and took down the Hilton sign, not to mention our dinky 10×10 tent; when it’s been cold and gray the entire time; and when it was so hot there was no mistake that you were in the desert. You can’t go wrong with layers of clothes.

5. Plan for the worst. It was either 2005 or 2008 that I came down with pneumonia. Bring your favorite over the counter meds and your insurance card!

6. Big Breakfasts and Power Bars are a must. Even if you are usually just a yogurt and banana kind of breakfast eater, this is one week where I promise you’ll burn the calories. Plus it holds you over when lunch is often not an option. Power Bars fit in your bag and make an easy, impromptu meal. When the food courts are 27 miles apart, making the time or the trip is often not worth it.

7. Over the shoulder bags are a pain in the neck, literally. Either bring a back pack or a cross body bag for your essentials.

8. This is the reporter in me…but a tiny, steno-style notebook that fits in your pocket is great for jotting down stuff you want to remember later. Or use the note pad on your phone. But I’m old school so I like pen and paper.

9. Make time in your schedule to get away from the booth. There’s lots of awesome equipment to see.

10. And if you are 7 months pregnant, just stay home. That’s what I should have done in 2002. Took me twice as long to get anywhere I needed to go and I was hot, and tired, and grouchy. Not worth it.

Can’t wait to see all of you in Vegas!

Overcoming fear of social media

I have to admit I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to social media. Not only am I generally a private person who thinks the world doesn’t need to know every time I sneeze, the idea of leaving behind all those digital fingerprints kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I feel the same way about cell phones and navigation systems that allow satellites to track your location. Perhaps the 1998 Will Smith/Gene Hackman movie, “Enemy of the State,” made too big of an impact on me. (Not that I’m a closet conspiracy theorist, but sometimes it does give you pause.)

So it’s a bit ironic that in my personal life I tend to lay low, yet in my professional life I have had a very public face for two decades as editor of various industry trade magazines, and I currently advise clients to build an audience using social media and email marketing, much the same way publishers do with the readers of their magazines.

I found when I was researching this topic that there is so much information out there that it’s overwhelming. For a company who is trying to overcome its fear of social media before diving in, the vast amount of advice may be a deterrent rather than the intended result. So here’s my take on the subject.

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No Predictable Surprises

In his presentation, “The Lighter Side of Spaceflight,” Mike Mullane, an astronaut who completed three missions aboard Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis, recently shared some humorous anecdotes about his occupation. In self-deprecating style, Mullane spoke to attendees at the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association’s annual conference in April. What hit home with me were the safety and risk parallels between the space shuttle missions and crane operations.

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When I Grow Up I Want to Be…

Middle School—those years between ages 11 and 14—is when young people are beginning to be faced with greater responsibilities, more freedoms, and a developing sense of independence.

I don’t remember thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up until high school, but my own 13-year-old son mentions it often. He sometimes worries about not yet having a clear direction. His career ideas tend to be tied to some perceived perk that is completely separate from a stable income: jobs that would allow him to sleep late or incorporate his skills as a video gamer.

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Cranes Bring U.S. Landmarks to Life

As I write this, summer is coming to an end. While the construction industry gears up for a better year in 2012, it’s back to school for my kids, who will surely swap vacation recounts. There’s a children’s book I love called, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” by Mark Teague. Written in the familiar rhythm of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” it’s about a boy who gets kidnapped by cowboys on his way to his aunt’s house.

The book speaks to me because it’s about finding unexpected adventure in ordinary things.

One of the hazards of being a crane magazine editor is that you’re forever pointing out cranes to your family, even though they may not care. I think there’s a little bit of adventure in spotting equipment at work when you’re traveling to new places. My kids? Not so much.

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Crane Ownership: A Morality Play

Small employers and owner/operators of cranes are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to complying with OSHA’s new Cranes and Derricks in Construction rule. To a degree, it’s simply a manpower issue—these individuals have to wear many hats besides crane owner and operator, including salesperson, accountant, and safety director. They may lack the time and resources to quickly understand the complexities of the regulation.

Yet the services they offer are vital to the regions and niche markets they serve. These are crane owners with fleets as small as one machine doing HVAC placement, lifting furniture, setting trees for landscaping, and other odd jobs. Many of them own boom trucks and small truck or AT cranes. Many have safe records as crane providers. So I was sad to learn that one of these owner/operators has decided to leave the business, in part because he’s not sure he’ll be protected under the new rule when working with unqualified riggers and/or signalpersons employed by the customer for whom he’s hired to do a job.

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