CARTHAGE, Tenn. (Aug. 6, 2019) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District Operations Division personnel attended a three-day class learning how to operate and maneuver various types of heavy equipment at the Cordell Hull Resource Managers Office.
“This is excellent training for our operations personnel that work in and around our beaches, wooded areas, facilities, and campgrounds throughout the Nashville District," said James Sowell, Operations safety officer and Crane and Hoist program manager, Nashville District.
Sowell coordinated with course instructors from Innovative Safety Solutions in Paducah, Ky, to provide classes in backhoe, dozer, mini excavator and skid loader operations training.
According to Sowell during July and August 2019 more than 30 district employees will attend three heavy equipment training classes at the Old Hickory and Cordell Hull Lake facilities.
“This is great to see them understand the importance of operating the various types of heavy equipment safely," said Sowell. Understanding it takes time to learn a skill while enjoying the participation."
A group of eight maintenance workers, mechanics, electricians and park rangers spent three days in a classroom learning knobs, switches, leavers and pedals and practicing hands-on field exercises, teaching the basics of safety, operations and maintenance.
Noel Smith, an engineering technician from the Center Hill Managers Office often works closely with park rangers to fill holes at campgrounds, spread gravel or provide maintenance duties at nearby campsites and is happy he is a certified heavy equipment operator.
Smith said with more practice and on-the-job training he has expanded his skillset and maintenance capabilities.
“This is a big deal for me to learn and practice operating the equipment," said Smith. “I've got a new skillset that allows me to expand and perform more duties around the district," said Smith.
Sowell said that even though it is a district requirement, the need for heavy equipment operators is often overlooked and this training helps meet those requirements.
He said the course is designed for all employees who work at recreational or maintenance facilities and includes hands-on interactive sessions with demonstration, written exams, field exercises and qualifications. Participants learn the basics of operating heavy equipment as well as safety and pre-operation maintenance.
Sowell said the district's goal is to certify training for personnel requirements for different levels of responsibility.
“To date, Operations Division personnel have completed 95 percent of the required training.
Barry Gill, senior trainer for Innovative Safety Solutions from Paducah, Ky., said it's vital that early training begin with safety, proper knowledge of all equipment operations and minor maintenance.
Gill said operating a piece of heavy equipment is very different from operating a truck or car and every maneuver must be a pre-planned and coordinated event.
“It takes a special skill and practice to operate a dozer, backhoe or excavator," said Gill.
Gill said each student has met a basic level of operations but will need to continue to operate and work at maintaining a level of skill needed to perform various operation.
“Safety is always the number one priority, ensuring everyone is wearing the proper protection equipment and it is key that everyone know proper operating procedures," said Gill.
According to Sowell, it takes patience and is a timely process for heavy equipment operators to learn new techniques and safety practices.
“It takes patience through a team effort, but this is why we have training," said Sowell.
(For news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District go to the district's website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.