An excavator operator inadvertently lowers the boom into a trench, crushing a co-worker who is attending to the pipe. Some time later, another operator in a different machine in a different organization makes the same in-cab move, and another worker is crushed. One worker is dead, another is left a quadripeligic.
This anecdote set the tone for the opening meeting of AEMP's safety task force earlier this month, where members discussed the need for a centralized database of incident reports. As we responded to this tragic story, one equipment manager said if this had happened in his fleet, he would immediately fix the problem on his excavators to protect his operators, then alert the dealer.
We were all distressed as further details of these accidents became clear. In both instances, the operator was doing the right thing in attempting to keep the in-trench worker in sight. But when he leaned forward to see into the trench, a part of his clothing hooked the control that lowered the boom. If the second operator had known, a worker's life would have been saved.
What's missing, the group unanimously agreed, is a way to communicate safety problems to other equipment professionals and the industry as a whole. What's missing, the group asserts, is a safety incident report template and a database structure that allows access to those reports.
At its board of directors meeting the next day, AEMP created a safety committee and immediately appointed a task force to begin work on these safety goals:
- Develop a product-safety incident reporting template that defines key data elements to record incidents and define root causes.
- Develop AEMP certification for incident-reporting application providers that adhere to an AEMP standard.
- Promote end-user modification of their safety-record applications to include AEMP safety-record elements.
- Establish an AEMP data base structure and API to enable end-user transmission of an AEMP incident report to an AEMP server.
- Establish access to report records to end users and manufacturers through security filters to avoid unintended use of data.
OEMs at the safety meeting, and others who were asked during the board of directors meeting, agreed with the effort and promised to support it with members appointed to the newly created task force.
The next major step in this initiative is building membership of the task force from OEMs, dealers and end users. AEMP plans to work closely with AEM's safety groups, too, recognizing that organization’s product-safety expertise.
If this sounds a bit familiar, this is exactly the tack AEMP successfully took when it determined the need for a telematics standard a few years back. The organization built a strong alliance with OEMs, which contributed substantial in-house technical talent, and built the AEMP telematics standard.
As we sat around the table discussing the potential for saving lives and changing the way the equipment industry deals with safety issues, the sense of united focus was evident. There is no "us versus them" when it comes to safety.
The industry consensus that AEMP has been able to build over the past 5 years was evident. It was good to see the equipment industry putting its combined talent and expertise forward on another significant issue that will benefit not only asset managers, but all involved with iron.