Cranes101 Spotlight Profile Series – John Vliet, Instructor

To help you, our customers, get to know us better, we at Cranes101 have decided to bring you this new series about our employees and contractors, in their own words. We asked everyone to answer a few questions that could then be edited into a profile. For the first in our series, we bring you John Vliet, who teaches our MA Hoisting License Prep, Mobile Crane Certification, and Signal/Rigger classes.

Prior to working with Cranes, I ran a small 24/7 on-call stevedoring operation at Port of New Bedford for 18 years, operating Articulated Boom Material Handlers and Hydraulic Boom Wire Rope cranes. Prior to that I ran a boom truck servicing the fishing fleet at large, transporting fishing gear and steel. I started with cranes in the late ‘90’s using indoor bridge mounted cranes at Cape and Islands Steel as part of structural steel fabrication.

During my 18 years on the waterfront there were 15 fatalities in work related accidents. I knew several of the men killed and some of their family. All the deaths were preventable. Rushing, ignorance of basic safety, substance abuse, or a combination were the causes of all the fatalities.The accident or loss was easily seen; but time together lost, financial futures lost, lives lost, were the less obvious and permanent aftermath.

My favorite thing to witness in a class is that figurative ’light bulb’ that turns on above a young person’s head during some special insight: They just ‘got’ the real-world significance. And so much the better, if it is an anecdotal tip or story that comes from the old-timer who has sat quietly in the back during the whole class. There’s honor and satisfaction that their experiences have just served to help the next generation ‘up’. That sense of attendees leaving a little smarter, maybe having a long-time nagging question answered, and a sense of camaraderie by the end of the day, are all potentials I look forward to as an instructor.

I recently taught an afternoon 1B crane class to a shy, sensitive looking young man, not much older than my son, who came into the classroom looking a bit defensive and intimidated by all the information. As I talked through the materials, he became increasingly curious and asked more questions relevant to the crane work he had already done and was hoping to do, but not confident that he could. When we finished for the day, I felt confident he was ready for the test, but as importantly, maybe more so, I felt like we connected at a personal level and that he had a better view of the crane community as a whole, as one of potential mentoring. He left energized about his future. I thought “We need more of his kind.” His sensitivity is an excellent attribute in a crane operator. We must constantly be on the lookout for problems before they arise and learn to recognize the meaning of each sound and vibration within our machines. We use our joint senses, our ‘radar,’ to monitor a machine’s proper functioning. The ability to do so can prevent accidents before they can arise.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about John. Stay tuned for more Cranes101 Spotlights in upcoming newsletters. To subscribe to Crane Chronicles , please complete the box below.


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