Survey: Most Managers Don’t Know How to Operate Basic Equipment

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Photo courtesy ow Wai Kwong Yau (via Wikimedia Commons)

Operating something as simple as a hand or power jack requires basic skills. But according to a recent survey, less than half of managers don’t know how to drive power jack safely.

The survey — which was conducted by Mentor Training in cooperation with the UK’s Fork Lift Truck Association — polled 1,3000 manager, supervisors and operators on basic operations of a hand or power jack. Only 42% knew that a power jack should always be pushed in front of the operator with one hand, rather than pulled behind.

Proper Operation of a Power Jack

Operators should always stand behind a hand or power jack that is moving forward in front of them so they can see where they are going and better control the movement of the load.

Workers who operate heavy machinery are required by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration to be certified in the proper and safe operation of the equipment. That helps prevent the operator and other workers from being injured or even killed.

Reasons for Manager Training

But the people who supervise and manage workers using power jacks and other equipment also need to understand how to use them properly and safely. That’s because:

  • In order to do their jobs properly, supervisors need to understand what their employees are doing. If they aren’t familiar with the safe operation of a power jack or other piece of heavy equipment, they may not be able to tell if workers are using these potentially dangerous tools incorrectly.
  • Supervisors and managers may occasionally need to fill in for workers in the event of call-offs, staffing shortages, or labor actions. If they don’t understand how to operate the equipment properly, they aren’t going to be able to guarantee a safe work environment.
  • Training for new employees should come from supervisors and managers, not other employees, who can pass their bad work habits or shortcuts on to the new employees without management being aware of it.
  • Supervisors need to hold employees accountable to job standards and work rules. If they don’t know how to run the equipment, they won’t be able to tell when workers are breaking the rules.

Potential Dangers

The author of the survey stated that primary reason for supervisors and managers to know how to operate power jacks is to ensure workplace safety.

“Businesses shouldn’t disregard these pieces of equipment as harmless when budgeting for training,” they wrote in a news release. “Although they are much less complex and powerful than other materials handling equipment, accidents are common. Operators using them incorrectly often experience bruised and fractured lower limbs and musculoskeletal injuries. Remember: There’s a reason why hand pallet trucks are covered by the same legal requirements as forklifts for safety training.”

In the UK, an average of 4,500 injuries involving power jacks are reported each year. The most common are workers running over their own foot or somebody else’s.

Supervisors and managers knowing how to use the heavy equipment their workers use every day just makes common sense. Not only will it help them understand what they are supervising, but they will be able to jump in and help out or even take over at any time.


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