Tips: This case occurred a number of years ago, but in checking with some of the workers that are still there the power equipment operator training has not changed very much. The company has invested in training of their service people more extensively, but the power equipment training is still OJT without the trainer. Other interesting facts about the case are added under each of the questions under “additional information.” 

What are the potential costs to this lack of training? Why do you think the

company operated in this manner?

Issues for Analysis: The costs of the lack of training were great. There were charges to the company every time a line was broken and had to be repaired. The potential for a serious accident was great. Not only when digging holes, but in driving to and from the job sites. The backhoe is a very unstable machine when being driven as the back end is heavy causing the front to lift off the ground from time to time. Steering can be done with the brakes (there is one for each of the back wheels), but this takes practice.

Additional Information: The cost was much more that what is mentioned above. In the winter months, Jim would use the boom much like a jackhammer to break through the frost, as he was never taught any other way (below pavement frozen ground would sometimes go down 4-5 feet). Because of the constant pounding Jim found himself going at least 3 times a week to the Massey Ferguson repair depot to have a crack welded, hose replaced, or bucket repaired. To his knowledge, Bill Granger hardly ever went for such repairs. The cost of this must have been great and Jim expected that he would be called in to explain his high maintenance costs to management. This never happened. The company obviously never did track these costs, and therefore, did not realize the lost revenue due to constant repairs. It was not that management did not know he was getting these repairs, as such information was on his time sheet and he did have to sign for repairs.

What type of training would you recommend: OJT, classroom, or a

combination? Describe what the training might entail.

Issues for Analysis: OJT would be a possibility, but a better approach would be to use a simulation with one of the backhoes used as the simulator. As described above, the OJT method could end up being very costly. The training would need to begin using the JIT approach in which the instructor would “tell” and “show” before allowing the trainee to begin operating the vehicle.  Issues concerning speed and safety would need to be highlighted prior to going into the field. Classroom training will be needed to address the safety and some of the maintenance KSAs. 

What type of training environment would you provide

Issues for Analysis: The simulation could be done in a training field with steel pipe buried in the ground to allow the trainee to experience what it is like to hit piping in the ground. Advanced training could use lead pipe like that found in the water services. The classroom environment would be less distracting and allow the trainee to focus on the material. 

4. Who would you get to do the training and why?

Issues for Analysis: Bill Granger might have been a good trainer. If so, it would be necessary to provide him with train the trainer sessions to the extent his trainer KSAs were deficient. Another option would be to see if this type of training were available somewhere in the industry. Perhaps the manufacturer provided training or another utility company may do so.

Additional Information:  In retrospect, Jim believes that Bill would have been a good trainer. He was very relaxed and when Jim did go to him for help, the help provided (on his own time) was very useful. He always took time to be sure Jim understood what he was saying and, when necessary, would show him what he meant. The other backhoe operator at the time was Mike. He was a nervous individual who would have been a poor trainer. Not because he was not as good as Bill (although he was not), but because he would not have had the patience to guide a trainee through the steps.

5.  Would you consider purchasing a training program for backhoe operators? Provide your rationale.

Issues for Analysis: As indicated above, it may be possible to find this type of training provided by an outside party. If it was, you would need to make sure the training addressed all the critical issues faced by the gas utility (i.e., buried utility lines, etc.).

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