Joe Bavuso ‘Saves Lives’ by Launching Crane Training Program

JoeImagine operating and repairing a crane 60 feet in the air, and lifting loads ranging up to 120 tons in a massive building. When union representative Joe Bavuso transferred to Gary Works in 1991, he learned on-the-job how to repair these giant cranes used in steelmaking.  But just as he had undergone extensive training as an electrician, he begin to look for a better way to train workers in this mechanical craft.  Fortunately, he was trained by experienced workers who shared best practices. He saw this need grow as older workers retired, not only in the steel industry, but across all industries. Then in 2004, a tragedy struck when a fatality occurred involving a worker repairing a crane named Herb Tollman.  “I decided it was time to launch a training program,” Joe said.  He ultimately persuaded his superiors of the need to build a crane simulator, and he assembled a team to design the curricula. The training program consists of 80 hours over two weeks. The simulator was named the Herb Tollman Trainer. Hundreds of steel workers have been trained on this platform from sister plants. He presented this innovation twice at the Association of Iron & Steel Technology in 2008 and 2014. In 2015, he received the Crane Innovator of the Year Award from AIST. “Joe saved lives by reducing hazards,” said nominator O’Merrial Butchee.

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