On a soggy day in Danville, Vermont Local Roads held its pilot loader and tractor/loader/backhoe (TLB) hands-on workshop September 30. Eleven people participated in the day that was cut short due to a safety hazard presented by the wet weather.
The course was co-taught by Vermont Local Roads Circuit Rider Steve Jerome and Danville Road Foreman Kevin Gadapee, a Management Academy Graduate (08-09). Gadapee stressed the importance of establishing a nature of safety.
“It’s going to come down to the operator if something bad happens, every time,” Gadapee said during the introduction to start the classroom portion of the day.
The instructors explained the goals for class attendees were to learn basic operator skills, proper safety procedures and to develop a comfort level to feel in control while operating the equipment.
Gadapee addressed the importance of buckling the seat belt.
“For the five seconds it takes to reach over and snap that seatbelt, no matter what your co-workers say, it’s worth it,” he said.
Jerome discussed proper equipment movement and transport. He stressed it is crucial to keep the bucket low while moving when it is loaded because a safety hazard is created with the bucket raised up- the equipment becomes top heavy. To transport the equipment by truck to and from a worksite, using four chains is important to prevent any chance of it coming loose.
Using a “Y” pattern of loading a truck was explained to the group, and the emphasis of going slow and not taking corners with the bucket raised.
It’s important to know the limitations of any piece of equipment, Gadapee said. The learning never stops, he added.
“You learn something, everywhere, every time, whether you have to run it (the equipment) one time, or 50 times,” Gadapee said.
The instructors went through in detail the many uses for each piece of equipment, along with safety procedures for each.
The classroom period was followed by pre-op inspections of the 1989 CAT Loader and 2006 CAT TLB that were parked in the garage. The group looked for any leaking fluids, worn hoses, loose or missing belts, trash in the cabs or broken parts.
The hands on learning came next. The group divided in half and was given about fifteen minutes to run the loader or TLB in an area behind the garage. The operators of the TLB were able to dig a trench, use the clamshell to move a rock, and backfill and compact the area when the ditching was complete. Being a newer TLB, the backhoe was operated using two joysticks and foot pedals.
The loader operators were able dig from the garage’s stockpile, move and dump the material to a simulated truck, back drag and practice ditch excavation.
The driving rain early in the afternoon cut the day short, which limited each of the 11 operators to using one piece of equipment. Vermont Local Roads is working on ways to finish the day’s training.
The workshop was a pilot in order to serve as a trial for this type of training that has been in demand. Its content and structure are still up for revision if this workshop is offered again in the future. A major barrier is finding additional spaces and equipment to use for training around the state. If you know of any, please let Vermont Local Roads know.
Vermont Local Roads is extremely grateful to Gadapee and the entire Danville crew for hosting the training and their hospitality. If you are interested in learning more about equipment operation, check out the Power Point presentations from the day on vermontlocalroads.org by going to “workshops,” then “workshop materials.”