Original Date: 07/21/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Lifting and Handling Surveillance Program
Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility recognized the need to enhance its Lifting and Handling Program. Accordingly, the company developed and implemented a surveillance program to monitor the lifting and handling operations and equipment in-between and outside the formal inspection process to ensure ongoing program continuity and integrity. The surveillance program identifies and addresses program deficiencies as early as possible to prevent a larger-scale problem.
Lifting and handling large complex assemblies at Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility (EBQP) is an every day part of the operation in the boat building business. It involves skilled riggers operating cranes, rigging, slings, shackles, and other material handling equipment to lift, move, and rotate extremely large, heavy assemblies throughout the manufacturing operations. If not performed with great skill and understanding to details, the safety of the products, equipment, and personnel can suffer. To ensure safety and procedural compliance, EBQP implemented a Lifting and Handling Surveillance Program in 2001.
Previous to the Surveillance Program, trade personnel and riggers received a four-hour classroom instruction that provided general understanding of the use and inspection of lifting and handling equipment. Workers then returned to the shop floor where they resumed various lifting and handling operations, still using equipment that was not always functioning properly or was damaged. Supervisors oversaw the work, but often were unfamiliar with sound rigging practices. Cranes were in constant need of repair, and rigging equipment was often damaged through abuse and misuse. Employees were performing lifts beyond their training level, and performance was not being measured. As a result, accidents were on the increase and not always being reported, and performance was not being measured.
EBQP established a team to survey the entire lifting and handling program and take a closer look at the quality of work being performed by senior riggers and trade personnel. The team’s investigation uncovered numerous problems with the existing program. Navy Crane Center (NCC) was invited to conduct an inspection, and they also found serious weaknesses in the program that required immediate attention. Other shipyards, as well as NASA, were also contacted to benchmark the practices being used to effectively monitor the lifting and handling programs. EBQP developed a program from this information.
EBQP now has an 18-member team, with representatives on each of the three shifts, performing lifting and handling surveillance. Each team member is responsible for ensuring program compliance in accordance with documented instructions and identifying potential problems based on a checklist of 74 deficiencies common to the industry. To prepare for the assignment, team members receive in-house training on the documented program requirements, deficiency attributes, and training from the rigging hardware manufacturers (e.g., The Crosby Group, ACCO Chain, and Lift-All Sling). Any deficiency noticed by a team member during surveillance is documented. To positively reinforce good work practices, tasks being performed to standard are also documented. Deficiencies are brought to the attention of the individual performing a lift so the problem can be corrected. When a lift is being performed within the standard, the person performing the surveillance acknowledges that fact. A deficiency coding system helps track trends and identify repetitive problem areas. The teams from each shift meet weekly to review reports, share observations, discuss crane and rigging accidents, and root cause. Information from individual reports is placed in a database and used to generate reports showing trends and problem areas. These reports are shared with supervision during monthly meetings and reviewed quarterly with all personnel qualified to perform lifting and handling operations.
The last audit conducted by the NCC found EBQP to be in near-perfect compliance. Good work practices are reinforced, and the condition of cranes and rigging equipment has greatly improved. Personnel are better trained (from a four-hour session to eight hours) and have greater awareness of proper lifting and handling techniques. Workers are now required to pass a two-hour evaluation where they are required to inspect hardware and perform an actual lift, and supervisors have a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of their employees. EBQP experienced a cultural change, whereby workers who are qualified to perform lifting and handling operations now take ownership of the process.
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