How We Approach Hydrovac Fleet & Team SafetyJuly 5, 2022
Celebrating Excellence: Merut Construction Wins Products & Services AwardNovember 13, 2023
A top priority for any company that performs hydrovac work should be ensuring that its team possesses all the experience, training and knowledge to operate safely and successfully. Even with top-of-the-line trucks and equipment at the ready, there’s nothing more critical than employing a well-trained, dedicated and safety-focused crew. That means, in large part, upholding strict standards for proper hydrovac certifications and qualifications. In this article, we’re outlining specifically what those standards should entail.
It’s important to understand that the hydrovac profession is a specialized trade—one that requires years of learning and practice to master. It encompasses much more than simply driving a hydrovac truck to a work site and starting up the equipment. Only the most qualified and experienced teams understand the nuances involved and how to approach each one properly. So when it comes to certification and qualification standards, here’s what expert teams like Merut Construction bring to the table.
CDL License Requirements
Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills and physical abilities than that required to drive a non-commercial vehicle. In order to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), an applicant must pass both skills and knowledge testing geared to these higher standards. Drivers obtain a CDL through their home state, and there are special endorsements to be obtained for driving certain types of commercial vehicles.
Expert teams typically require that every hydrovac truck operator carries a Class A or B Commercial Driver License with a tanker endorsement. This designation ensures they are certified to transport bulk quantities of liquids via truck.
Job-Specific Training & Certifications
Expert hydrovac crews must be vigorously committed to cultivating a high level of safety and workmanship, applying dynamic touch points to ensure team members have the qualifications and training to perform the work in the safest, most effective way possible. From hydrovac fleet drivers to operators, field workers and supervisors, it’s critical to institute rigorous policies and procedures to maintain a culture of safety.
At Merut, that looks like enforcing a combination of policies related to heavy equipment, safe driving, confined spaces, asset and logistics management, equipment management and more. We also require each hydrovac operator to complete (and sometimes renew) these necessary types of training:
- Crystalline Silica Awareness for Construction Training: Educates workers on how to protect themselves from the dangers of crystalline silica, a common mineral whose dust can lead to serious medical issues if exposure is not limited.
- Electrical Safety Awareness Training: Designed to provide an understanding of the principles of electricity, as well as the safety issues involved in working near, under or above live electricity, which largely helps keep workers safe and healthy.
- Emergency Response Training: Specifically addresses the course of action workers should take in the event of an emergency or incident, including any events that occur either on a project site or at the office.
- Environmental Awareness Training: Deals with the span of environmental matters that may arise during normal work.
- Excavations for Construction Training: Addresses how to avoid becoming the victim of an excavation accident and prevent others from being injured; helps develop a working knowledge of OSHA’s excavation safety standard for any job performed at a construction site involving excavation.
- Fall Protection for Construction Training: Helps learners recognize the hazards of falling and how to minimize them, specifically covering the potential hazards and protective measures they can take to help prevent injuries while working on elevated working platforms and runways, or near floor, wall or window openings; authorizes the worker on how to properly use fall protection.
- HazWoper 24 & 40: The 24- or 40-hour learning program created specifically for those in workplaces designated as a HazWoper site under OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.120; a basic umbrella for those not facing an each day hazard, although the possibility exists for exposure to chemical hazards in the working environment; required for workers that perform activities that expose (or potentially expose) themselves to hazardous substances.
- HydroVac Operator Certification: Issued to certify an operator on their ability to safely conduct hydrovac operation.
- Ladder Safety Training: Teaches workers how to use ladders safely, how to select the right ladder for a job, how to store and maintain ladders and how to recognize ladders that may be hazardous.
- Material & Equipment Handling Training: Introduces and trains employees on the proper ways to handle and load/unload cargo.
- New Hire Orientation for Field Employees: Provides information regarding the background, values and mission of the company, along with policies in the general, HR, health and safety, and environmental categories.
- OSHA 10 & 30: A 10- or 30-hour outreach and voluntary training program provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), touching on appreciation, prevention, avoidance and reduction of safety and health hazards in the workplace.
- Powered Industrial Truck (PIT): Training and evaluation to ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is certified to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as specified in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1).
- Small Equipment Certification: Issued to certify an operator on their ability to safely operate tools such as post pounders, generators, chain saws, demo saws, vibratory tampers, etc.
- Spotter Training: Addresses how to assist an operator in maneuvering equipment into position to prevent injury to the operator, spotter or other personnel or prevent property damage.
Vac Truck Operator Classifications
When it comes to hydrovac operation and crew work, experience is key. That’s why expert teams, like those employed by Merut Construction, follow a tiered system for hydrovac operators to ensure they gain the necessary experience to contribute as highly skilled professionals. Following is the general criteria we set for the three different tiers of hydrovac truck operators:
- Tier I Operator: Receives training on becoming a Vac Truck Operator while getting experience running vac truck and all related procedures. This position must request and be willing and able to perform the duties of a Vac Truck Operator, as well as work safely and follow all company procedures and policies.
- Tier II Operator: Independently performs all duties of a Vac Truck Operator as well as obtains all other requirements of the position, including completing 1000 hours as a Tier I Vac Truck Operator. This position must obtain the Company’s Vac Truck certification, which involves passing a written and practical examination.
- Tier III Operator: Achieves the highest level of Vac Truck Operator certification. This position must complete 5000 hours as a Tier II Vac Truck Operator and receive approval by management.
In some circumstances, Vac Truck Operators with prior experience may come in as a Tier II Operator as long as they pass the written and practical examinations to obtain the required certification. They might also be able to utilize up to 2500 hours from previous work towards becoming a Tier III Operator as long as there is valid documentation and references.
Ultimately, these strict standards for required time on the job plus certification achievements ensure that the team has the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to perform their work at the highest level.
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