When we say we support the community we live in, we mean it!
Since this North Vancouver street was closed for the mobilization of our San Marco SMT 460 unit, our lead technician James Fujita took the initiative to make sure recycling day wasn’t missed. Living out our values by taking care of our neighbours is Legendary Service, thank you James!
Photo credit: Bigfoot Technician, Sandra Allard
Bigfoot is now proudly represented in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory (YT)’s Sign Post Forest. The landmark is located at Kilometer 980 of the Alaska Highway and has collected over 77,000 signs form around the world. The Sign Post Forest originated in 1942, when recovering U.S. soldier Carl K. Lindley was repairing the directional signs on the highway and decided to add one pointing to his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Since then, visitors from all over the world have brought signs that are significant to them to add to the forest, including our own Ralf Notheis.
When he’s not running Bigfoot’s Crane and Hoist Academy, Ralf is a motorcycle enthusiast. He’s done several solo long-distance trips, and last summer took his longest trip to date yet Tuktoyaktuk, YT, clocking in at about 10,000km. He brought one of Bigfoot’s signs with him to hang in the Sign Post Forest, so we sat down with him to hear more about his trip and what taking a Bigfoot sign means to him.
- How long was the entire trip?
I was gone for 13 days. The first few days I was riding pretty hard because I just wanted to get up to the Yukon, and then really take my time from there.
- What were the unique challenges of this trip? What made it interesting?
The weather and the clay roads were definitely a challenge. From Dawson City to Tuktoyaktuk is 1,000km of loose gravel and clay; it’s like riding on grease and many people on 2 wheels end up getting flown out from bad crashes. The Robert Campbell Highway from Watson Lake was also really challenging, and a lot of people told me not to do it. There’s only one place to fuel up on that road, but I had just enough gas to get to that station, fuel up, and keep going.I left equipped with a sensible plan and great gear that includes my BMW motorcycle. I was happy to finally drink the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City, along with riding the Dempster Hwy to the Arctic Ocean, it’s been on my to-do list for a long time. If you don’t know what the Sourtoe Cocktail is, click here to learn about this true Candian tradition.
- Biking is a big passion of yours. How many trips like this have you taken by yourself?
Tuktoyaktuk was for sure the longest one but I’ve been all over BC, Alberta and through the Western United States. I plan to be in Ushuaia, Argentina in 2023 for my 50th Birthday and ride home from there.
- How did you find out about the Sign Post Forest?
I was researching the places I had planned on camping and stumbled across the story about it. Watson Lake, YT is not famous for too many things but the history of this landmark is pretty amazing.
- What made you want to put a sign up there?
I think it’s great advertising since thousands of people visit this site annually from all over the world and I didn’t see even one other sign from a competitor.
- Tell me about the sign you put up there. How big was it?
It had about an 18 inch diameter and I was able to wrap it and tuck it between my luggage. We’ve had this sign laying in the operations office since I started in 2015 so it was finally put to good use. I got there at night and camped nearby so I just walked over with the sign. It took me almost an hour to find a good spot for it but I’m really happy with where it is, I think it looks really cool.
- Why did you decide to take one of Bigfoot’s signs up there and not one from your hometown or an old motorcycle plate?
The Bigfoot logo is way cooler and more personal to me than any other sign I can think of. Sure, I could have taken any other random sign up with me, but the Bigfoot branding just looks so cool! My only concern is that it’s so nice that someone will steal it!
The tenacity and dedication that Ralf needed to complete this trip to the Arctic Circle are the same values that drive Bigfoot’s Crane and Hoist Academy and have earned it awards across North America. Click here to discover how combining industry-leading practices with lived-out values make our academy the premier choice for crane and hoist operation training.
If you’re going to work with tower cranes, you better know your hand signals. Clear communication is essential for staying safe on the job site.
A crane operator should always use a signaler, and they should communicate according to the established code of signals. Hand signals are preferred and commonly used. In certain cases, a signaler may be required by law, especially if the operator’s view of the intended path of travel is obstructed in any way.
Here are six essential rules for crane operators and signalers:
- Only a qualified person can be a signaler. They must be trained to give hand signals to a crane operator.
- Only one designated signaler should be assigned for each crane operation. If one signaler ever needs to be replaced by another, the one in charge should wear a clearly visible badge of authority. There should never be two active signalers.
- The crane signaler must be in clear view of the crane operator.
- The crane signaler must have a clear view of the load.
- The crane operator and signaler must both keep other persons outside of the crane operating area and never direct a load over a person.
- A crane operator must obey STOP signals no matter who gives it.
Importantly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that anyone designated as a signal person must meet certain qualifications and be evaluated by a qualified individual. These regulations, in addition to a commitment to standardized signals, have helped reshape the landscape of crane safety, with crane-related deaths falling to their lowest recorded level in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Below, we have a visual guide to basic crane hand signals, including a few signals that are particular to telescopic, crawler and tower cranes. In any case, crane hand signals are an essential part of operating a crane, whether using a small carry deck crane or a larger all-terrain crane. These basic signals are even used with the largest cranes in the world. Some crane rentals also include operators and a signal person in the cost.
Download our new “Tower Crane Hand Signals” chart here: Bigfoot Hand Signals
Working at Height in the Spring: 10 Ways to Stay Safe
Written by: Jen Adams
Key Takeaway: Be prepared for unpredictable spring weather by keeping the job-site clean,
planning for the forecasted weather, using the right PPE, and taking thorough
Temperatures may be rising, but spring brings its own set of risks (and borrows some from
winter) that need to be taken seriously. Keep these best practices in mind while you’re working
at height this season to stay safe while enjoying the breeze.
1. Always check the weather.
The only thing consistent about spring weather is that it changes consistently. Be prepared for
the heat or cold by checking the weather ahead of time and plan accordingly, and always be
prepared for sudden changes that could occur.
2. Complete thorough safety checks on all large equipment.
With inconsistent weather comes loose earth, mud that gets everywhere, and a higher risk
of rust when equipment is repeatedly soaked and left to dry. Always make sure to check
equipment and machinery before using it and stay up to date on safety regulations by
checking WorkSafeBC.com and using tools like Bigfoot’s Crane Academy.
3. Secure your materials.
High winds can pick up quickly in the spring and are often stronger the higher you work, as the
site is usually more exposed. Make sure the materials you are working with are secure at all
times to avoid injuries or falls from loose materials or objects blowing around.
4. Avoid using power tools in rainy or wet conditions.
Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. By using power tools in the rain or wet after a
rain, you not only run the risk of damaging your tools, but risk electric shock or electrocution if
any wires become exposed while you work. Play it safe and use hand tools where possible or
set up cover over your work area to keep the area dry.
5. Be wary of thunder and lightning storms.
Spring storms are especially dangerous to those working at heights, as lightning is drawn to
metal and tall structures. Monitor the weather report, be aware of your environment, and if the
weather looks dicey, don’t risk working in a storm.
6. Give yourself some traction.
Slipping is always a risk when working on the job-site but becomes even more so when working at
height on wet surfaces. Wear boots and gloves that fit well (make sure they are tight enough that
they can’t slip off, but not so tight as to cut off circulation) and have a lot of traction and grip to
7. Always wear appropriate fall PPE, even if working at a lower height.
Most fall-related accidents occur at 30 ft. or less because people view lower heights as less
dangerous, but it takes very little height for a fall to cause injury or even death. Height should be
treated seriously and with caution in any season, but mud and rain make it especially important
to utilize fall PPE in the spring.
8. Let your fall PPE dry naturally before its next use.
Drying equipment with an electric dryer or heater can weaken or melt the material, ruining the
equipment and putting its user at risk. Blot your equipment with towels and hang it up to dry
completely on its own whenever it gets wet, and always check it carefully before each use.
9. Dress warmly enough, and cool enough.
Spring weather may feel warm compared to winter, but its unpredictable nature means that
temperatures can drop to hazardous temperatures, especially when coupled with consistent
cold rains. Dress in layers to ensure you can always keep up with whatever cold or heat the day
throws at you.
10. Train staff to identify weather-based illnesses.
Heat and cold stress occur when the body either warms up faster than it can cool (resulting in
heat exhaustion or sunstroke) or cools down faster than it can warm up (resulting in frostbite
or hypothermia). While they happen more often in summer and winter, they can also strike in
temperatures that don’t seem very extreme. People working at heights can also be at a higher
risk as they tend to be more exposed to the elements. Make sure there are staff on site who are
trained to recognize and treat signs of heat and cold illnesses.
Click here to download: Working at Height in the Spring: 10 Ways to Stay Safe
A certain amount of risk is unavoidable. Whatever your business venture, some risk will remain. Construction projects are no exception to this reality.
However, it is important to focus on managing construction risk through proper preparation and a thorough review of contract documents at the beginning of a project. Allocating the responsibility for risk to the parties that are best able to manage them can minimize incidents and the cost of each risk. Keep these simple tips in mind when preparing for your next project.
Allocating Your Risk
A part of managing construction risks includes working together with all parties during contract preparation to anticipate potential risks and assign responsibility for them to the party best capable of handling them, if they should arise.
The owner would typically be best at managing flaws in design, placement and environment, while the contractor would be better at handling issues with personnel and performance. Management of indemnity and general insurance are key to managing construction risk in these scenarios.
Protection with Indemnity Policies and Provisions
Liability that arises from professional negligence is best managed through professional indemnity insurance. Most indemnity policies contain a contractual liability that is equivalent to professional negligence. Many professional consultants are required to carry such insurance. A proactive way of managing construction risk before beginning a project is to ensure that your coverage is up-to-date and will meet the needs of your particular project before beginning.
- Product Liability Insurance – This coverage protects against liability for injury to people or damage to property that arises from products supplied by a business. Suppliers of equipment to a construction or engineering project, such as lifts or escalators, may be required to maintain such insurance. You may want to hire a consultant to ensure that the insurance carried by the supplier matches the needs of your project. Indemnity clauses regarding product liability should place responsibility squarely on the contractor.
- Public Liability Insurance – Liability arising from death or personal injury to third parties and for damage to property belonging to third parties falls under this type of coverage. Normally you would provide adequate security to ensure that public liability remains at a low-risk during your construction project. However, by assigning responsibility through definitive clauses, you are ensuring that should the risk arise, it will be handled with the care that is required for such incidents.
- Latent Defects Insurance – This insurance generally protects the owner against the cost of remedying the structure of a building due to unknown and unforeseeable defects. While an owner would typically cover this, individual provisions may be made for material placement and quality-of-work issues that revolve around the contractor’s intrinsic responsibility regarding these facets of the project.
Managing Construction Risk in Funding and Feasibility
Two other forms of risk that commonly have a negative impact on construction projects are funding risks and feasibility risks. These are often described as “invisible risks” because they are rarely evident until they arise. However, careful preparation and research can go a long way towards preventing them. Both require different strategies to manage, but both come from the same source – the reliability, solvency, and professionalism of the available contractors.
Feasibility risks arise from hidden weaknesses in the original business plan proposal. They can include (but are not limited to) environmental concerns, including:
- Unforeseen factors in location
- Issues with coding and zoning laws
- Weather-based delays
A proper analysis of location, as well as a review by an expert in local zoning and coding is necessary to ensure that both the contractor and the owner are prepared for the hidden costs of feasibility defects before signing the contracts for your project.
Funding risks are inevitable but are rarely prepared for. They can include a multitude of situations such as:
- Subcontractors refusing to abide by original quotes
- Cost of potential fines
- Expenses associated with extended service contracts
While it is impossible to entirely avoid funding risks, setting clear budgetary limits for contractors and the proper examination and mitigation of feasibility risks will go a long way towards preventing unexpected costs from derailing a project.
Risk Management Is “Management”
Realizing that managing construction risks is just that…managing, not preventing, is necessary for coping with the inevitable. Remember these three steps: “Research, prepare, assign.” This is considered an important mantra for any successful owner or contractor. Ensure that you have identified all the factors that may be potentially problematic before beginning a project by:
- Consulting with experts and professionals
- Preparing your proposal and budgetary restrictions
- Ensuring that responsibility and its accompanying insurance and indemnity is appropriately assigned before finalizing your initial contracts
Buying Into the Safety Culture
One of the best ways to prevent job site injuries is to get your employees and managers to buy into the safety culture. This can be done when you make it a priority to clearly communicate safety standards on a consistent basis.
In reality, many employees often turn a blind eye to risky behaviour. There is usually a gap between how workers perceive their role in safety and how they feel about others on the job site. For example, in the Safety Culture Survey by Safety Performance Solutions, 74 per cent of respondents said they’d like their peers to point out safety issues, but only 28 per cent thought other people would appreciate feedback.
How to Communicate Safety Standards Internally
Part of the problem is that many employees don’t want to insult older or more experienced coworkers, and don’t feel qualified to give safety feedback. In an effort to make our workplaces safer and to prevent accidents, we’ve compiled advice for building constructive safety environments.
- Praise: It’s important to praise employees who perform their work safely. One-on-one, genuine praise works effectively. This encourages positive behaviour to continue by rewarding safe practices.
- Training: Access to training and educational resources helps employees take responsibility and pride in their own safety practices in a way that simple top-down orders cannot. Regular training programs can help safety practices become an organic part of the culture, while signs and regulations serve as static reminders.
- Post Signs: That said, reminders are a good thing. Written warnings and reminders reinforce good training and provide gentle guidance in the most important safety requirements. People respond more to visual information than written words, so it’s a good idea to include pictures or diagrams of expected behaviours wherever possible.
- Toolbox Talks: Toolbox talks and group meetings are a great way to build a culture that is comfortable to communicate safety standards. The Safety Culture Survey found that 90% of people feel they should point out risky behaviour, but only 60% actually do. Toolbox meetings are a great way to provide safety-related feedback in a personal but indirect manner. This is important since employees are more likely to respond defensively to direct, rather than behavioural, feedback.
- Make it Part of the Job: Safety standards should become part of the employee review process, in terms of both corrective feedback and reward for consistent safe work. By emphasizing standards in performance reviews, you send the message that safety isn’t optional in your work culture.
Protect your Employees
Some employees fear reprisal if they bring up safety issues in the workplace, and don’t want to be seen as complainers. In 1997, the Department of Labor found that workers who brought up complaints were very vulnerable to punishment or reprisal. We can work to change that. Employees working on the job site have the closest and most personal view of safety issues, so it’s important that managers protect and listen to their opinions.
Skipper Kendrick, the manager of Industrial Safety and Hygiene for Bell Helicopter Textron, suggests a “Day of the Pig” on which employees can bring up any health and safety or environmental problems without fear of fault finding, and with a promise of management accountability. Following through on employee complaints reassures them that their input matters.
It is in everyone’s interest to promote the best possible workplace, and employers can make this a reality when they clearly communicate safety standards throughout the company.
photo via www.delynsafety.co.uk
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Bigfoot Crane Company Inc.
TSBC License: #LED0205236
2170 Carpenter Street
Abbotsford, BC V2T 6B4