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Training new personal question.

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by hwy70, May 27, 2013.

  1. hwy70

    hwy70 New Member

    May 27, 2013
    Hello I am new to this forum and hope this is the place to put my concerns.
    I work for a county municipality here in Wisconsin.
    A little history first.
    As you may or may not know that our governor has strip public worker of there bargaining rights.

    Well because of this action management has complete control over the workers.

    Now on with the problem and concern.
    I am or was the main operator of a Cruz-Air 480c rubber tire excavator.

    Shortly after the Governor action about half of the public works department retire.
    Because of this the county replace these workers with a lower wage.

    They have no training program when it comes to heavy equipment.
    I myself went thru Local 150 apprenticeship program of the Operating Engineers.

    Well on to the concern.
    I have been told to train these new workers with little or no experience.
    I have instructed my boss that I would had the new employee the manual and answer any questions that may arise.
    Well the county way of training is to just to out and operate the equipment and let them know if they have any questions.

    My question.
    Is the operator at any legal risk by training new employes?
    If the new employee operating the heavy equipment has an incident/accident?
    Can the operator be at any legal risk because of anything he may or may-not shown the new employee?

    I keep telling management that I am qualify to operate the equipment but not certify.
    Am I correct in saying this?

    Thanks ahead of time for any input.

  2. Tiny

    Tiny Senior Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    I Am A Child Management And Relocation Specialist
    NW Missouri
    1st let me qualify what I'm saying , I am not a legal expert . I have zero knowledge of the laws in your area

    In this day of lawyers and sue happy people I would find what your asked to do to be a problem . I could see a problem and one of the Guys Or Gals saying " he didn't tell me that!! " .

    Just a question so please don't take offense But are You fully qualified on everything you will asked to cover or just familiar with it ? Just wondering .

    Your in a position I would be wary of .
  3. Jumbo

    Jumbo Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    Black Diamond WA
    Rule 1:
    Document any conversation with supervisor. This does not mean taping the conversation, just date, approximate time and current conditions. (IE: weather, location anyone else present.) You do not have to make anyone else aware of your notes. JUST MAKE THEM! Keep a work diary from now on recording any and all work you do. Since you are an operator, you can list things like cleared culverts Smith road from milepost 1 through milepost 3. I had a fellow working for me once and a claim was made, we included him in our witness list. When he came into court with his diaries, he was an instant hit with the administrative judge. When he retired, he had diaries of everyday he worked over 44 years. (As an aside, they were pretty interesting on changes in conditions.)

    Rule 2:
    As a supervisor, which I had been prior to retirement, I am responsible for all my employees’ safety. If they do something unsafe and get hurt, due to lack of training, according to WISHA (Washington State) and OSHA, I am responsible. The key for you is Rule 1. As long as you have documentation that you expressed your concerns about your ability to train in a safe manner with no training in safety training and you have documented it you should have no concerns.

    I doubt that the governor of you state or his cronies were smart enough to repeal workplace safety rules. However, a quick scan shows that Wisconsin has no state workplace safety laws, thus OSHA has all control. OSHA has an all-encompassing rule, which is the fall back rule for almost all violations. “There must be a trained and documented person to handle all “potentially unsafe situations” Thus, any person who is using ANY tool must be documented as being trained by an authorized trainer. This is rather a stupid rule, when you think of a cordless drill or a sledgehammer; however, it is a real handy rule for a person in your situation.

    Due to lawsuits and claims, the contractor I worked for before I retired, had all supervisors go through HR training (how to can a person properly) and, WISHA / OSHA rules and regs. OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 classes are available anywhere, (try you own IUOE) and are good for general knowledge and in your case how to cover your butt. Never, never “refuse” to teach someone, just make sure you documented your concern about you ability to train.

    All this sounds like a pain in the butt, and it is until you get used to it. Someday though, it may keep you from being thrown under the bus by your supervisor.

    Did I mention the work documentation enough??

    Good luck;
  4. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Since your concerned about liability and being sued, go consult an attorney on your own and check it out, they can answer any legal question you have, but to simplify your answer somewhat, anyone can at any time sue you for anything, we all live in a lawsuit happy world. Just what exactly is your job title anyhow, worker, equipment operator, someone in charge, crew forman, what, with experience comes knowledge, with advancement comes responsibility, I really don't know what stage or criteria your in, but if your being told to do something, ask for documentation of what's expected of you and what your supposed to do per say. Sounds to me from what you wrote, they're taking the ones' with the most experience and expecting them to train the new guys, that's kinda how its done at my operation to an extent, and isn't uncommon at most places.

    If I were you, I'd have a sit down with whoever is in charge and ask some questions, you can be sued for about anything, including it was your job to tell the new guys something and you didn't, just as well as telling them something you shouldn't have, maybe find out exactly where you stand in the chain of command and job description, probably the first thing an attorney will ask you anyhow. But I'm not an attorney, let alone an attorney in your area or know your states laws.

    Depending on what your attorney tells you, and how willing those who hire you are to actually tell you anything, I'll tell you the same as I tell everyone, you were looking for a job when this one came along, find one that you feel confident in, get along with those you work with, and have good communication between you and your boss, and enjoy getting out of bed every morning to go do, if you have to worry about lawsuits every day, it would be a major red flag warming to me to find another job, but that's only my opinion, take it for what its worth.
  5. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    I don't recall ever seeing a government job that didn't have a written job description. As long as your job is as an operator and training is not formally part of your job, I can't see that anyone could hold you responsible for anything as long as you didn't specifically tell someone to do something unsafe. If you don't have any training credentials and your employer doesn't have any formal training program I can't see that you should have anything to worry about. Besides you personally probably don't have deep enough pockets to be sued. You are also an employee of that particular government which would be the target of a law suit. You could be named along with the government entity but courts will usually throw the named individuals out. Besides, your employer in most states that I'm aware of would be required to defend you.

    If it bothers you that much then you should seek legal advice as other here have suggested.
  6. hwy70

    hwy70 New Member

    May 27, 2013
    Thank you all for input

    I like to thank everybody for your input.
    My job for the county is equipment operator.
    I became the operator of this machine after the accident, again this was not me who was involved.
    I went thru Local 150 IUOE apprenticeship program back in the 70's.
    I am looking to retired in 2 years.
    The machine I operate is a Badger Cruz-Air 1085C rubber tire excavator.
    Being employed by a municipality we are not cover by OSHA but rather by Wisconsin Commerce Dept. which adapts most of OSHA rules.
    The operator at that time ran over a gentleman on a Bike.
    After seeing what happen.
    This is one of the reason why I move cautious
    I will share with you the newspaper articles of the accident of this machine.
    This happen back in 2005.

    County doesn’t retire backhoe


    Family members of a man hit by a Kenosha County backhoe said they were shocked to learn last week that the county is continuing to use the machinery, despite court testimony that it is unsafe.
    Milutin Vukmir was driving to his Bristol home last week when he spotted the 22-ton Cruz-Air excavator being used at highways 45 and 50.
    Vukmir thought the county would have retired the vehicle after an expert witness testified in June that William S. Prescott, the driver who struck his brother Dale Tudjan in August 2004, was unable to see out of the excavator.
    “If that was truly the case, how can the county allow its workers to keep driving it ?” Vukmir said. “To me that is gross negligence. It is the equivalent of you or I driving with a smashed windshield.”
    Gary Sipsma, director of the county Division of Highways, said the people who use the excavator reviewed the Prescott accident and are aware of the situation.
    “I don’t believe any modifications have been done to the machine itself,” Sipsma said. “We really didn’t have any problems prior to that accident and haven’t had any problems since.”
    Sipsma said the county has two identical excavators that are used daily for work including ditch digging and cleaning.
    Sipsma said while he can understand why the Tudjan family is upset, the county relies heavily on the machinery.
    “It is a very useful piece of equipment,” Sipsma said. “There is always a backlog of work that has to be done.”
    Prescott, 46, of Elkhorn, struck Tudjan, 39, of Bristol Aug. 13,2004, while Tudjan was riding his bicycle on Highway 45 just south of Highway 50.
    Prescott reportedly drove onto the north shoulder to let faster traffic pass and hit Tudjan.
    During his trial, defense expert Albert E. Klais said the excavator’s bucket arm, the bucket arm’s support and the edge of the cab had all blocked Prescott’s view of Tudjan nearly the entire time he drove toward him on Highway 45.
    Jurors found Prescott, who is still employed by Kenosha County, responsible for the crash and fined him $50 plus court costs for a total of $181.
    The Tudjan family didn’t fare as well.
    Dale Tudjan suffered 11 critical injuries from the accident, including a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage. His left leg was amputated above the knee on Aug. 17,2004.
    He is currently living at the Mount Carmel brain injury facility in Milwaukee.
    Tudjan is still unable to walk and is fed though a tube.
    Communication is slight. He gives his brothers, who visit him four to five times a week, a thumbs up or down sign, but is often unaware of his surroundings.
    “We ask him questions and he fails about 50 percent of the time,” Vukmir said. “It is hard to say if he knows who we are. I think he senses it because we are there a lot, but as far as if he knows what happened prior to the accident, we’ll never know.”
    Dale’s brothers, Milutin Vukmir and Dean Tudjan, filed a claim against Kenosha County and were awarded $50,000 in July — the maximum amount the Tudjan’s could collect from a municipal government under Wisconsin’s liability caps.

    Article 2:

    Court fines driver in bike crash


    A Kenosha County backhoe operator was found guilty and fined Tuesday for an accident that led an amputation and other injuries for a Bristol bicyclist.
    Jurors deliberated about two hours Tuesday before finding that William S. Prescott failed to keep a safe distance when he struck the bicyclist, Dale S. Tudjan, 39. Tudjan was riding south of Highway 50 on Highway 45 in Bristol last August when Prescott reportedly drove onto the shoulder to let faster traffic pass.
    Prescott, 46, of Elkhorn, said the excavator he drove only reached 12 to 17 mph, and he said he hugged the centerline to keep the oversized machine squarely on the road.
    Passing was dangerous, but he testified Monday that drivers had passed him illegally earlier that August day.
    As he drove through Bristol, near Highway 50, Prescott said he looked over his left shoulder and saw a dump truck. He thought the truck was about to pass, so he moved to the right. He wanted to avoid an accident, he said.
    Instead, when Prescott looked back ahead, he saw a bicyclist on the road’s shoulder. He could not avoid a crash.

    “There was a cloud of dust from the gravel on the shoulder,” said Jack T. Ross Jr., a truck driver and a former member of the Salem Fire Department, who witnessed the accident.

    “Then, I saw the man (on the bicycle) do, like, a complete turn and a half being thrown to the side,” he said.

    “There wasn’t enough time to grab my air horn or do anything to stop it,” said Johnny Lunetta, another truck driver who saw the accident. “He just disappeared under the tire and got spit out.”

    The accident would not have happened if Prescott had maintained a safe distance as required by law, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Tracey Braun argued. Under the law, that safe distance is no less than three feet.

    Defense attorney Fred Zievers argued that Tudjan, not Prescott, breached that safe space. Zievers suggested Tudjan “panicked” when he realized the 22-ton vehicle was so close and turned to look, inadvertently turning his bicycle into the vehicle’s path.

    Zievers also argued that Prescott could not see Tudjan to avoid him. Braun said Prescott is responsible for the crash, regardless whether or how long he could see Tudjan.

    Two experts testified about how much time Prescott might have had to spot Tudjan.

    One accident reconstruction showed Tudjan did disappear in Prescott’s blindspot for about one second, when Tudjan was between 20 and 50 feet from the excavator, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Gary Preston said. But, Preston added, Tudjan would have reappeared within two to three seconds before impact.

    Defense expert Albert E. Klais said the excavator’s bucket arm, the bucket arm’s support and the edge of the cab all blocked Prescott’s view of Tudjan nearly the entire time he drove toward him on Highway 45.

    Jurors found Prescott was responsible for the crash, despite the reported visibility issues. Prescott got a $50 fine and was ordered to pay court costs, for a total of $181, according to Kenosha County Circuit Court records.

    But while jurors held Prescott accountable, defense lawyer Zievers said the real responsibility rests with county officials, who allowed an 8.4-foot vehicle without side mirrors to drive on an 8.5-foot roadway. That, despite concerns about unsafe turning and other driving issues with the machine, which Prescott said he shared with a supervisor.

    “The county put it out unescorted. The county put it out without mirrors on. The county put it out there without flagmen. The county put it out without a flat bed to drive it” the seven miles from a work site to the Kenosha County Center, Zievers said.