UNCHAINING LOADS FROM GROUND LEVEL (2004)
INTRODUCTION: Prior to 2004, the only way that log truck drivers unloading at the Verso Paper Corporation’s Quinnesec, Michigan mill were able to take the chains off their loads was by walking across the top of the load of 8-foot roundwood. Forest Resources and mill personnel saw the potential safety hazards in this method, and knew that a different solution needed to be designed to accommodate drivers, and to keep them as safe as possible. The problem was not just that the driver was unrestrained while walking on the load, but that weather conditions brought more hazards with icy and wet conditions.
Fig. 1: In 2004, Verso’s Quinnesec, Michigan mill began requiring truckers to unchain loads from the ground and held meetings to develop an appropriate process.
GETTING A SOLUTION AND BUY-IN: A few truckers were invited to participate in informal meetings to determine the best way to address this exposure. The previous process had consisted of the driver walking across the load, pulling the chains from the load, and putting them in a chain box that was located near the top of the truck. After discussions, there was consensus that the best solution would be to relocate the chain boxes and extend the length of each chain. By doing that, the driver could unchain his or her load from the ground.
The proposed revisions were made to two trucks, with the owners/operators testing the operational points. The mill then advertised “Truckers’ Day,” inviting all truckers to come to the mill and preview the proposed changes as implemented on these two trucks.
Initially there was some resistance, but the mill let the truckers know that it was important to work together to get the best possible outcome—everyone’s safety.
Fig. 2: One essential change was relocating the chain box.
APPLICATION: The truckers were given a timeline in which to make changes to all trucks, after which nonconforming trucks would have to use the man-lift to unhook chains. Most found this alternative too slow and cumbersome and made the requested changes.
Fig. 3: Ease and safety of unchaining loads improved.
Fig. 4: Driver ensures that the chain is flowing into the steel box as he pulls it off of his load.
It was very important to get everyone sitting around the table to discuss the options, and the changeover became less of a directive and more of a collaborative effort. After seven years, many drivers delivering to Quinnesec have known no other way than to unchain loads from the ground, but of those who do remember, very few would want to go back to the “old way.”
COSTS: Estimated costs—at the time—were less than $200 per rig, including parts and labor.
Lake States and Western Regions Manager