Avionics News May 2017 - 34
Continued from page 33
reach higher elevations they are a lot more cautious and take
more steps to prevent a fall," he said. "At 4, 6 or 10 feet up,
they don't want to be bothered with fall-prevention equipment. That's when they get into trouble."
As beneficial as fall-prevention equipment is, it is cumbersome and restricting, and it took a federal law to get people to
wear seat belts in cars.
There's also a perception in the aviation industry that fallprotection/prevention equipment limits productivity. It takes
time to position the equipment properly over an airplane, put
on the harness, and attach it to the safety line. Most technicians believe that by the time they get all connected, the job
would have been done.
Unfortunately, they don't realize the error of their thinking
until they're speeding face-first toward the tarmac.
Photo courtesy of StandardAero's Springfield, Illinois, facility
Without the right safety equipment, even falling from a
relatively low height onto a hangar floor will result in a
serious or fatal injury.
Safety is as safety does
No avionics technician attempts a job with the goal of getting hurt, but stuff happens. As an avionics shop owner or
manager, it's your responsibility to make safety part of your
company culture - even if you're only a two-man shop.
One place to look for a good model is at the larger avionics shops and MROs. For example, according to Leon Dodd,
director of quality assurance for StandardAero, the company
has a fully implemented safety management system that is
ISO accredited and audited by Det Norske Veritas, a thirdparty auditor.
An area of its SMS that is of benefit to hangar slip and fall
safety is in the safety risk management practices.
"Slips and falls are our No. 1 risk in the hanger," added
John Teimeyer, StandardAero's corporate director of environmental, health, safety and security. "All of our hangar facilities have a variation of fall-prevention systems in place. When
a technician is required to work at unprotected, elevated
heights, they must wear a harness."
Teimeyer said that along with the requirement to wear the
safety harness, each technician is trained on how to properly
inspect the harness and the right way to attach and detach
from various suspension hardware.
"We have an in-depth program on how these systems are
used safely," he said. "We also train on how to use the various
lifts and scaffolding systems. Virtually in every scenario, we
ensure the system they are using is the correct one for the job."
Determining the "right equipment for the right job" is
accomplished through a combination of guidance from the
equipment manufacturer and an in-depth job safety analysis
completed by StandardAero's internal team.
"In a job safety analysis, we concentrate on high-risk jobs
and jobs that had previously caused some type of injury or a
near miss," Teimeyer said. "We have our technicians break the
job down step by step and list the hazards found in each one.
"After identifying all the hazards, we then put proactive
measures in place to eliminate them. It can be anything from
requiring specific gloves or an ergonomic procedure. If the
avionics technician had to be in an awkward physical position
for a long period of time, we would try to find an alternative
method to do that job."
Teimeyer also stressed the company's commitment to proactive analysis and implementation versus just reacting to an
"We look at all the indicators and listen to our avionics
technicians when they say there is an issue - even a small
one," he said. "Their input is critical to the success of our
efforts. No one knows the problems better than the people
who do the jobs every day. Even small process changes can
have big impacts on safety.
"We also continually reinforce the need for vigilance
and safety through our ongoing messages to our employees about the importance of using the proper safety equipment. Continual reinforcement is key to keeping all types of
approved safety practices top-of-mind on the shop floor."
The ABCs of fall-protection equipment
There are literally hundreds of different products for a shop
to increase the safety of technicians. Options run from cutproof gloves to shatterproof glasses, traction devices for work
shoes, ergonomic safety ladders, and whatever you want.
But the one safety-enhancing system every technician who
works higher than a couple of feet off the ground needs is a
personal fall-protection system. Currently, there are four basic
components to these lifesaving systems: