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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lab Riggers Can Do the Heavy Lifting

riggersWhat does it take to move a three-ton $27 million electron microscope to the second floor of a national user facility? If you work for Kevin Trigales, Rigging Supervisor of the Facilities Division, you don’t make this move without weeks of planning, pre-load calculations, testing, and more planning.

Without the planning “rigging” is subject to a multitude of hazards and risks such as equipment damage from not picking it up correctly, loads shifting to potentially fall, and most importantly worker safety. To prevent errors and mishaps, Trigales runs a Job Hazards Analysis before beginning a new job to determine what hazards and risks may be involved. Riggers rely on each other to “spot” each other while performing a lift, but much of their safety also relies on following their plan and “to make sure we know what we’re dealing with,” Trigales explains.

This attention to safety was essential in late 2007 when John Turner, the building manager of Building 72 (National Center for Electron Microscopy) called on the riggers to move the Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope (TEAM) to the second floor of the building. After determining that the three-ton microscope would have to be moved through the side of the building, Trigales worked with construction manager Matt Hilburn to open a second-floor wall. The riggers then used a platform custom-designed by Trigales to stabilize and prevent the microscope from rolling off during the 20-foot lift.

The safe move of TEAM, that required a busy month of planning, is just one of many successful lifts marking the career of Trigales’s four-member team, who have worked safely at the Lab for the past 18 years. He credits the riggers’ safety record — 2,772 workdays without a lost-time injury as of July 15, 2009 — to their safety training, planning, and practices. “Some people think it’s luck to have those many days without an injury, but what they don’t realize is that there’s a lot of thinking involved,” he says.

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