It is so important to have the most knowledgeable and best trained employees possible. Situations at any place of business can surface that can put operations in jeopardy. Having properly trained individuals to solve those situations is imperative.
Recently, a long-time veteran in the asphalt industry was out visiting a number of plants. During his travels he made a stop at a plant run by a friend. While on the visit, his friend had an emergency call and had to leave the control house. The veteran was left in the control house with two people. One was the plant operator and the other was the silo loadout operator. He asked the two of them about the plant and how well it was operating. There was not much of a response. He didn’t feel like he had been rude to them, so he asked the operator, “How is your baghouse working?” The operator looked at him and said, “What’s a baghouse?” He said, “You know, it’s the air pollution device with the fan.” The operator said, “You know, all I know dude is I crank it up and I shut it down. I don’t know anything else about it.” When questioning the loadout operator, he asked, “Do you know much about this plant or how to start it and shut it down?” He said, “No I don’t know nothing about it, all I do is load out the trucks.” After some more questions he discovered that the operator, he had been at the plant about five years and the silo loadout person had been there about 19 months.
Let’s hope this is not a typical situation but it ought to send out a few messages about where we are in the industry? Where we are in training operators? What are the safety situations that could arise? Would you feel comfortable having someone in your control room that didn’t know A, B or C about the plant, the equipment or the operation? These are great questions to ponder and resolve before something major happens and the only person qualified to solve the problem is out taking an emergency phone call.