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Unveiling AWRF’s Vision for the Future of Rigging Industry Safety and Standards

Dive deep into the heart of the rigging industry, where we unveil the Association of Wire Rope Fabricators‘ (AWRF) approach to the future of rigging industry safety and standards. Industry stalwarts explore the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities as experts discuss AWRF‘s initiatives to promote best practices and enhance workplace safety across the lifting, rigging, and tie-down sectors.

The rigging industry has come a long way in prioritizing worker safety, moving from an era where fatalities were expected to a modern approach focused on rigorous standards and continuous improvement in rigging industry safety and standards. As AWRF members Tim Klein, Emily Wagner, Jeff Ferchen, and Terry Driscoll reveal, the association plays a crucial role in shaping the future of the industry through its technical committees, recommended practices and guidelines, and collaboration with other organizations.

We’re taking all that information and collecting it in the Recommended Practices and Guidelines. Whether it be the proper proof testing of a chain sling or a wire rope sling or a lever hoist, Swager Safety Guide, we have these documents that we’ve collected all of this information showing the proper way to do it, and we’re continually updating those

Tim Klein, PE, Senior Director – Structures at WireCo

In this episode, you’ll gain insights into AWRF’s vision for the future of rigging industry safety and standards, including:

  • Emerging safety trends and the role of personal competency
  • The impact of new technologies like load monitoring tools
  • Strategies for training the next generation of lifting professionals
  • The importance of industry consolidation and global economics
  • Opportunities to get involved and contribute to AWRF’s initiatives

This episode of Safety Factor is a must-listen for professionals across the rigging industry spectrum — from veterans to newcomers and from safety managers to CEOs. Whether you’re a rigging professional, safety manager, or industry stakeholder, this episode offers a comprehensive look at AWRF’s efforts to drive continuous improvement in rigging industry safety and standards.

Prefer to watch? Watch the Safety Factor here!

Transcript

Intro

[Jeff Ferchen] When they were building a bridge back in the 1960s, they knew that they had assigned a certain death factor to building that bridge. Like, they were going to lose people’s lives. And so hence here comes OSHA, and then OSHA was no longer writing standards. Then they fall back onto ASME, and then that falls back onto the Wire Rope Technical Board and the Web Sling and Tie Down Association, which is just another avenue for AWRF. Like, Tim Klein sits on these boards. Tom Eicher from our organization as well as Paul Boeckman from Crosby sits on these ASME organizations that help us understand the standards to help people be safer. So I think current state, where we’re kind of at is now that we’re getting this next generation of younger people into the industry, how do we make sure they understand these standards, apply them out in the construction and industrial forces, and make sure we’re doing stuff safe?

[Announcer] For your own safety, you are reminded to stand behind the yellow line.

[Ben Hengst] Welcome to “Safety Factor.” My name is Ben, and today we’re talking about the future of the rigging industry. I’m joined by AWRF members to get some perspective of what the future holds. I’m joined by Tim Klein, Emily Wagner, Jeff Ferchen, and Terry Driscoll.

Meet the AWRF Board Members, Management, and Chairs

Jeff, when we were preparing for this podcast, you happened to mention that nobody plans on being in the rigging industry. So I’m just kind of wondering, how did all of you end up in this industry, if you could let me know about your history? How’d you wind up working in the rigging industry?

[Ferchen] My background’s a little bit interesting because I grew up in the construction industry, and my wife ended up having twins. And so the paychecks were a little sporadic when you complete a job, so she basically said, “We got to get something that’s a little more steady.” So her father was in the industrial distribution business. They were aligned with a company by the name of Cooper Tools. So I knew the construction side of it. I knew how to use the tools and all that kind of stuff. I’m like, “Well, maybe I’ll give it a shot and see if I can sell ’em.” So I originally started in the tool business and sort of fell in love. Cooper Tools had a brand by the name of Campbell Chain and Merrill Clamps as well. So I sort of fell in love with the lifting and rigging side of the business because there seemed to be more value. You could do chain sling inspections. You’re keeping people safe. There’s safety seminars associated with all that kind of stuff. So that’s really where I got my start in the industry. I just kind of fell in love with the rigging and lifting side of the business. But to your point, Ben, it’s like nobody wakes up and goes, “Man, I’d love to be in rigging and lifting.” So that was my story anyway.

[Emily Wagner] Well, I’m actually in the management side of it. I manage AWRF alongside my father, who is the chief executive, and he actually started in the business at Bethlehem Steel, I could not tell you the year, and then went to Commercial Group Lifting Products. And then from there, he was asked to manage the association, I guess they liked him so much, and it’s all I know. I’ve been coming to these meetings and going to AWRF meetings since 1994, the year I was born, and-

[Hengst] So born into the lifting and rigging industry.

[Wagner] Born into it, I was probably one of the ones that was born into this industry. So yeah, I learned a lot and still learning day to day. So it’s pretty cool.

[Hengst] And Tim, how about you?

[Tim Klein] Yeah, after I graduated college down in southern Missouri, I went to work for a large equipment manufacturer in Illinois doing engine design for them, and I’d worked there for a little while. I was born and raised in St. Joseph, Missouri, and I had a family emergency, and I had to, my wife and I just, we went back home for that, and my wife said, “You know, we should move back home.” And I picked up the local “St. Joe News-Press & Gazette,” and there was an article, want ad for a mechanical engineer at Wire Rope Corporation of America. And I applied, and the vice president of engineering at the time and the CEO, they were all alumni from the school I went to. And I got hired on, and I’ve been there ever since. That was in 2000, so 24 years ago.

[Hengst] And Terry?

[Terry Driscoll] Well, I’m kind of like Emily. Nepotism can be an incredible thing. I knew something about computers and network design, and my uncle actually needed some assistance to help run his network and help support him in the end. So started with the John Sakach Company in 1996, worked my way up through the ranks. Got thrown to the wolves on how you’re supposed to learn about rigging, and it’s just something that gets into your blood. I like to think I have wire rope lube going through my veins right now by this point.

[Hengst] Tell me a little bit about what is AWRF, and what is each of your individual role within AWRF? Terry, why don’t you start?

What does Terry Driscoll do in AWRF?

[Driscoll] I’ll start with that one. Currently I am the programs chair with AWRF, AWRF. So what my responsibilities are, of course, I want to make sure that when people are attending the general sessions that they, we’ve got some good, quality content for them, whether it comes to the speakers, the presenters that we have, keynotes, as well as working closely with Tim Klein on the technical committee to get more specific into the, I guess, the technical side of our industry and trying to help disseminate that information throughout the association.

What does Emily Wagner do in AWRF?

[Hengst] And Emily, how about you?

[Wagner] Again, I am with the office. So I handle all of the day to day with the association, making sure everything’s running smoothly. I work closely with all of the chairmans of all the committees that we have, technical and the board of directors, and put on all the functions and events at all the hotels that we go all over the United States, and it’s pretty fun.

What does Jeff Ferchen do in AWRF?

[Ferchen] Yeah, I’ve taken over the marketing and communications committees, so that’s involved with what do we do from the marketing side of it, really, how do we brand ourselves out there in the industry as well as how do we look at the content that we’re sharing as the evolution has evolved from magazines, how do we get more social media posts and things like that. So just how do we get the marketing information and the communication that happens in the board of directors meetings as well as the technical meetings and then get that out to our members to share what we’re doing and where we’re going.

[Hengst] Hence why you’re on the “Safety Factor” podcast, right?

[Ferchen] That’s correct.

What does Tim Klein do in AWRF?

[Hengst] And Tim, how about you?

[Klein] Yeah, for AWRF, I am the chairman of the technical committee, so I oversee all of the subcommittees that are involved in that. And that covers wire rope, chain, synthetic sling, roundslings, everything that’s involved in that. And we’re responsible for all of the RP&Gs, the Recommended Practices and Guidelines, that cover a lot of safety aspects in all of the sling shops, the products, you know, just everything we have coming up with those as well, too. So I’m responsible for all that under the chair technical committee.

[Wagner] No big deal, he’s just one of the big deals in the assoc…,

[Hengst] No big deal.

[Klein] Yeah, we’ve run a lot of, I mean, I’ve made some notes. We run a lot of the testing programs, and we interact with a lot of the other industry organizations, and their technical committees share information, and all this is to distribute the technical content or results of the testing, all the information that we’re collecting to distribute that to the membership.

[Driscoll] And if you don’t mind my saying, it’s incredible what Tim just mentioned. You think of what AWRF means, Association of Wire Rope Fabricators, and it’s so much more than that, that a lot of people don’t realize it, that it’s not just wire rope. It’s not lifting slings, riggings, flat web slings, high-performance slings, tie down. I mean, the list just goes on and on, below-the-hook lifters, hoists. I mean, where do we stop, right? It just continues, but it’s all encompassed in this one association.

What is AWRF, and what does AWRF do?

[Hengst] Yep, and we are recording in a shop right now, so if you hear any shop noise, that’s what’s going on. So what exactly is AWRF? What do you do?

[Klein] I think it’d be best for Emily to start with that one.

[Wagner] Yeah, well.. I didn’t know! I was like, “Let’s test them to see if they know.” So AWRF really, it connects all the companies and the organizations within the lifting, rigging, and load securement industry. It’s a place where everybody can come and not be competitors for a change, share like practices and set best practices in the industry and just make sure we’re making it a safer environment for everybody to be in and for the, essentially the world. They all rely on construction, and these riggers and these rigging companies that basically, I think LEEA says it best, we have members that lift and move the world, and it’s so true. And we promote best practices among all of those OEMs and manufacturers and such. So it was incorporated, I think, 1976, so they’ve been doing it for a while.

What is the History of AWRF?

[Hengst] So how did AWRF get its start? And if it started in 1976, what got it going, and what has it become today?

[Wagner] So it started with six or eight businessmen that were rigging shops, and like I said, they just came together to share best practices and ensure that they were doing stuff efficiently and effectively. And it’s grown from that many members to over 350 worldwide, and we have different membership categories. We have the regular members who are the rigging shops. We have the manufacturers, sponsor members, non-manufacturer, so like distribution companies, and then we have everyone inside of their organization. So we cover all of their branches and affiliations as well.

[Ferchen] Well, the interesting thing, too, is it was, the founding fathers picked it up because it was so hard to get insurance from a rigging and lifting aspect. So really they formed it to get an alliance from an insurance perspective to get enough people in a like business together where somebody would be willing to collectively insure them. So what started off as, “Man, we need this to get together so we can have affordable insurance from a liability perspective” and has grown into the 400-plus company members that are there across 25 countries. So it’s really quite an amazing story from the founding fathers that started this. I think Tony Mazzella was one. Duane Kaminski was one, David Bishop. So some of the names in the industry that you guys would know were the founding fathers which Emily was talking about.

What does AWRF do to make the rigging & lifting industry safer?

[Hengst] So I assume that the reason why it was hard to get insurance and this had to be formed was because the industry, the rigging industry is such a dangerous industry. So what does AWRF do, AWRF do to make the industry safer?

[Driscoll] What don’t we do? I mean-

[Wagner] I know.

[Driscoll] Tim, I’d like you to address this, really. The most important, I think, at this time that we’re still putting a big push on is the RP&Gs. And it’s taken years to develop a lot of these, and it’s a matter of disseminating that information down to membership. You have so many people that are attending AWRF events, but when they leave there, how do you continue that learning and training amongst all of the membership? So again, we’re hoping going forward what we can do is influence the current companies that are continually attending to help promote more of these safe practices, promote the RP&Gs, or Recommended Practice and Guidelines, so that we can continue to improve the industry as a whole.

[Wagner] Let’s not forget that AWRF has members such as Tim Klein is one of them, Jeffrey Gilbert, the chief executive, sits on many other organization seats and committees such as ASME, ASTM, NACM. So we’re in a lot of these safety organizations as well that many of our members have, we have very good representation in those as well, and we’re able to bring that information back to the association, to our association, and really disseminate that information from the professionals that deal with it day to day.

[Klein] Yeah, yeah, that’s correct. And to add on to what Terry and Emily said, we’re taking all that information and collecting it in the Recommended Practices and Guidelines. Whether it be the proper proof testing of a chain sling or a wire rope sling or a lever hoist, Swager Safety Guide, we have these documents that we’ve collected all of this information showing the proper way to do it, and we’re continually updating those. And right now we’re creating a couple new ones for proper swaging of assemblies, pouring of sockets to fill that void that’s out there in the industry to help our membership be better conscious of what’s going on in the industry and to provide safer products to the users. And really, that’s the main goal is to ensure that the industry as a whole is a safer place.

[Hengst] So speaking of that, maybe you guys can sum up kind of what the industry trends were in 2023. So you could talk about safety trends. You can talk about just the direction that the industry moved in 2023, and then from there we’ll move on and look at what the future has.

[Ferchen] So I think from a history lesson perspective, when they were building a bridge back in the 1960s, they knew that they had assigned a certain death factor to building that bridge. Like, they were going to lose people’s lives. And so hence here comes OSHA, and then OSHA was no longer writing standards. Then they fall back onto ASME, and then that falls back onto the Wire Rope Technical Board and the Web Sling and Tie Down Association, which is just another avenue for AWRF. Like, Tim Klein sits on these boards. Tom Eicher from our organization as well as Paul Boeckman from Crosby sits on these ASME organizations that help us understand the standards to help people be safer. So I think current state, where we’re kind of at is now that we’re getting this next generation of younger people into the industry, how do we make sure they understand these standards, apply them out in the construction and industrial forces, and make sure we’re doing stuff safe? I mean, even within our own company, we want to make sure when people come in, we’re flipping and moving stuff all day, we want to make sure when people come into work, they leave the same way. And that’s the same way, whether it’s industrial, construction, oil and gas, whatever industry you might be in, we’re constantly trying to make sure that people are safe. But it all starts with the standards, and the standards are developed for a reason. So I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but it’s just funny to me how we came from, “I’m going to build this bridge over the Hudson River, and we know that we’re going to lose 10 people” back in the ’60s and ’50s. I’m like, “How does that even happen?” So we’ve really evolved from that perspective to make sure we’re taking care of our employees and making sure everybody gets home safely.

[Hengst] So if you’re building a bridge now, how many dead people are okay? Zero.

[Klein] Zero.

[Driscoll] Good answer.

[Klein] Yeah, I think, Ben, and one of the things that I saw on the trends in ’20, and really started, 2023, you saw a lot of it being encompassed, but it really started in 2020, and you know, COVID of course, changed a lot of things at that time, but from the ASME, and I am a main committee member with the ASME B30 standards, and I chair of some of the other subcommittees and vice chair on a couple of ’em. But one of the things that we’re seeing come from the main committee is really personal competency. So you’re identifying the rigger, the signal person, the operator, the owner. All those people are defined out very, very clear in those standards now, and that was something that had always been put together. And in some cases, you know, if you have a small rigging company that goes out and they’re setting an air conditioner on a building, there may only be three guys, so three people, but they have multiple hats that they’re wearing. So that was a big trend that we saw in 2023 was identifying personal competency. And I think you can definitely push that back into OSHA where they wrote in, and they’re starting to enforce that now, where crane operators have to be licensed, and riggers have to be licensed and certified. So it’s not just, you know, “I’ve got 20 years on the job.” Now you actually have to have personal competency, an eye test and all that stuff that goes along to it. So that was one of the big trends we saw in 2023. And another one from the ASME side was breaking out components. The wire rope and synthetic ropes now have their own standards. So they’ve pulled all those components similar to below-the-hook, you know, shackles and lifting rings. Those are in a separate standard on their own. They did the same thing with wire rope and synthetic rope. They pulled those out of all the individual standards, and now they have their own standard that cover them. So from the safety side, from the ASME side, a lot of changes have taken place in trends that we saw in 2023. I think you’re going to continue to see those types of things progress as we move through those standards.

[Driscoll] And this really isn’t the most glamorous job or the work that’s involved behind the scenes. I mean, you can hear equipment in the background here, and it’s, yeah, it’s painstaking work. And trying to get people into this industry right now, like anywhere, is still a little bit difficult. But we are also kind of cutting edge, too. There’s a lot of technology that we’re seeing vast improvements on when it comes from either the, you know, various block cams, load cells, different monitoring devices. All of these things are just helping to make the industry safer. So when you pull back these layers of a basic wire rope sling and a shackle, there’s so much more that’s going on within our lifting and rigging industry that people need to take notice of.

[Klein] Yeah, and Terry, to add onto that, and I wouldn’t say that as a 2023 trend as well, but load monitoring tools, those in the last five years have really-

[Driscoll] Exploded.

[Klein] Came to light. You know, they’ve been in Europe for so many years, and now they’re coming over here. And there’s an old saying from one of the, Larry Shapiro’s book that if you go drive into a city, the number of tower cranes that you see working on the skyline shows the progress and how quickly the city’s growing. And you’re seeing more and more tower cranes come to work, and those are blind lifts a lot. So load monitoring tools are so important for the crane operator in those situations. And that’s technology that definitely is starting to change the industry, and we’re seeing it more and more every day. That’s not written into standards like what you see in Europe yet, but there’s been a lot of people discussing that, and that is something that’s, I wouldn’t say in the works, but it definitely is something that’s on everybody’s mind and is brought up several times.

[Hengst] So what do you think 2024 has to offer for the industry as a whole? What are some trends that you’re going to see?

[Klein] Well, I think from the crane industry, which is definitely a big part of the load, you know, rigging industry, you know, electrification is definitely, everybody’s talking about that. So you’re seeing cranes coming into the country or being built in the country that are, you know, electrification. And whether or not that trickles down into what we’re seeing in lifting and rigging, that’s tough to be said. But from, you know, from our perspective, we’re seeing a little bit more OSHA oversight now. And as I said, I think I mentioned it before with personal competency, we’re seeing that be brought to the forefront as well. For 2024, I think that’s going to be a big discussion point going forward as well.

[Ferchen] One of the things we’re seeing from a below-the-hook lifting perspective in the industrial space is no touch. And that’s, you know, with crane hooks having latches on them, a lot of people are moving to traditional bales where you would have to hold the latch back on that in order to put it onto the bale of something. People are going to like pin bale styles where you can just lower the crane on, and it picks up the pin and off you go. So kind of no touch. I’ve been seeing a lot of information about load cells, like you were talking about. People want to know what they’re picking up. And then if you’re familiar with the fork truck industry, as they drive around our factories, we have blue lights. They want to be able to see where this stuff is moving over the top of people from a heavier mill duty perspective, aluminum mills, heavy steel processing and things like that. So it’s a little bit of a change.

[Driscoll] And we’ve also, we’ve already seen the virtual styles of training that’s being applied to whether it’s going to be an overhead crane, a mobile crane. They even do it for inspections. Has anyone seen anything with AI as of late and how that’s being integrated into our industry?

[Ferchen] Not from a training perspective, but if you want to say, “Put me a training about wire rope,” I’m sure it would spit something out.

How is the business of the lifting and rigging industry changing?

[Hengst] And then what about like the business side of things? Where do you see the business end of the rigging industry moving within the next year to five years?

[Driscoll] Well, I can probably take this one. I see a lot of consolidation. That’s something that we’ve been very concerned with as an association and one of the main reasons why we’re going through some of the changes that we’re looking at now within the next year and a half, possibly, or less, that as the industry continues to get smaller, whether it’s from the distributor side or from the manufacturers, which we’re seeing a lot of consolidation there, it’s something to be a bit concerned with, but at the, maybe from the membership side. But at the same time, it could also have some positive effects on the industry as a whole. Your thoughts?

[Klein] Well, I’m definitely on the engineering side. I have my, I see the business side off in the future and tend to stick my nose into it more often than I should. But definitely, you know, again, I mentioned COVID before. You know, the world did change, and the business side did change. And you know, the inflation affected not only bread and milk at the store. It affected steel. It affected the lifting and rigging industry, anywhere from the fibers in the ropes to the carbon steel that’s in the wire rope. It affected everything, you know, and I think it’s going to continue to, it’s balanced out quite a bit, but that’s something we need to keep an eye on. And then the obviously economic, the world economics that go into our product, because we get, I guess sometimes we get blinders on us, and we only see what’s right in front of us here in the States, but we’re definitely a global industry, and the things that happen around the world affect us as well here.

What challenges are the rigging and lifting industry facing?

[Hengst] What are some of the challenges and the opportunities that are going to be facing the rigging industry in the future and what is AWRF doing to address them?

[Driscoll] Ooh, that’s a two-parter, isn’t it?

[Hengst] It’s a two-parter.

[Ferchen] I’ll take the first part. I don’t know which one that was, but I think the one thing that we’re seeing, as older people in this industry continue to phase out, we’re changing roles. Where we used to always be players in the game, now we’re having to be coaches in the game. And so I say that in regards to we have to train up this younger generation. Like, Tim and Terry and I and Emily, we got a lot of information in here that it’s hard to get that information out in all in one setting to the younger generation. So one of the things we’ve done at AWRF to try and change that is we need to train our shop people and our salespeople, whether it’s inside and outside sales. How do we get them knowledgeable on our products, on the industry standards so we can continue to be the experts in the industry? Because like we started at the beginning of the conversation, no one just wakes up and says, “I want to do this.” We have to train to it. And I think we’ve had a lot of legacy people in this industry, and I think we’re starting to see that with baby boomers starting to retire, and we’re having to kind of fill that with that younger generation. How do we give them the technical tools, kind of like what you guys are doing right now? People want to see content. They want to see videos. They don’t want to see me and Tim talking technical stuff in front of a bunch of people. They want little snippets of information. So how do we kind of give that to them? So we’re changing our format at AWRF a little bit to try and get it geared more towards the people that are in inside sales, that do the project management, that do outside sales, and how do we educate those guys and change our format a little bit.

How can businesses improve their safety culture?

[Hengst] So if somebody wanted to become a safer business, what resources are out there? What would you recommend they do to improve their safety culture?

[Driscoll] Talk to Jeff Ferchen.

[Ferchen] Well, I think you guys in general, right, from Mazzella, you guys are providing a ton of content out there to try and help educate the industry. But I think there’s businesses that have built their entire model on, “All we do is training.” So, you know, whether you’re a crane operator, whether you’re rigger safety from a job superintendent guy that’s building a bridge, I mean, you got to be able to look at a lot of different sources. And we are, AWRF is one tool in that toolbox to help you get there. But I think there’s lots of resources that you can lean on. It’s just make sure they know what they’re talking about.

[Hengst] The big thing I took away from that was subscribe to The Lifting & Rigging Channel, is what I heard.

[Driscoll] Nice call.

[Ferchen] I was trying to give you a shameless plug.

[Wagner] No, I think from an AWRF standpoint though, is our technical committee, like I said before, is just really involved not only in our organization but in many of the other safety organizations within this industry. So joining an organization, AWRF, there’s ACRP, which is the Association of Crane and Rigging Professionals. There’s NACM, there’s a lot of different resources out there, and a lot of times associations are a one-stop shop to get the important stuff. And I think our technical committee does a really good job on focusing on what’s important, what our members need to know right now, what’s coming down the pipeline, how can we help them, and I think they do a fantastic job with it. We have 11 or 12 committees on the technical, subcommittees on the technical committee that they really just do a great job finding the information that’s important and getting it out there. And AWRF really likes to pride themselves on that because I think we do a phenomenal job at it. And we also offer training within our industry. We give a training platform to our members that join. So there’s a lot that’s offered. And definitely joining an organization, whatever it is, AWRF if you want, it’s really beneficial to any company. And we did just start a accreditation program, it’s called the AWRF Accreditation Program, that our rigging shops and our members can go through to put their skills and their shop to the test to make sure that they’re doing everything efficiently and effectively and safe. And it’s a great benefit for members that they can sit there, compare themselves to our sling shop RP&G and say that they’re one of the best of the industry and the best to work with, so yeah.

[Klein] That, you know, the recommended practice of first sling shop, operation of the sling shop, that’s really the cornerstone on that for the members to follow up on that with just, you know, it’s everything from proper inspection of incoming material to the manufacturing of the product to the shipment of the product. It covers that from cradle to grave. Just those types of documents that we’re supplying to the membership is one way to easily improve your quality, your safety, and your product. It’s provided to the membership through recommended practice and guidelines.

[Drisoll] And you had a collection of different companies that came together to help form these RP&Gs. So that’s the plus side of it. It was both from the manufacturing side, from the distribution side, to have all these heads come together and say, “This is what we believe is the best way to go about it” is a fantastic approach, and it’s done nothing but really to help enhance the industry as a whole.

[Klein] Yeah, yeah, and then, and again, I think we’ve mentioned it before, we’re not just, you know, AWRF is also, Emily talked about joining organizations. You know, we’re talking to the Cordage Institute. We’re talking to the ACM, the chain manufacturers. We’re talking to the Web Sling and Tie Down Association. We’re interacting with them, and they come and set and give updates on what those associations are doing at the technical committee. And we’re disseminating that information to memberships as well, too, trying to be the best stewards we can for a safe culture and make the rigging industry much better.

Do you need to be a member of AWRF to gain benefits from it?

[Hengst] Do you need to be a member of AWRF to be participating in AWRF or to reap the benefits of AWRF?

[Driscoll] Emily?

[Klein] I would would say to reap the benefits of it.

-[Wagner] That’s it.

[Klein] But Emily can-

[Wagner] Definitely reap the benefits of it. With the accreditation program specifically, yes, you do need to be a member because you would be an AWRF accredited shop. But for the RP&Gs, they’re available to anyone. And a lot of resources we do have on our website, you could check that out as well. But definitely joining has more benefits than not, for sure.

How do you become a member or get involved with AWRF?

[Hengst] So how do you join? How do you become a member?

[Wagner] You just go to the AWRF website and click Become A Member, fill out the application that’s online, and the board of directors reviews it.

[Ferchen] And there’s one caveat. We would want to make sure that you’re sponsored, so to speak, that somebody says that you’re a reputable business. We want to make sure that you’re in the rigging and lifting industry and you’ve got somebody that sort of sponsors you, and then we take a vote on it. But for the most part, the value from an AWRF perspective, there’s so much good information out there from the technical side of it. The other side of it is just the networking side of it, knowing who’s out there, who can help you, ’cause a lot of the distribution, you know, they, at these meetings, you know, they collaborate with each other. We all seem to be struggling on the same stuff. It’s industry-wide-type stuff of what’s changing the markets, and how people can navigate through that is helpful from a networking perspective.

Why should you become a member of the Association of Wire Rope Fabricators?

[Wagner] Well, I think it’s great, too. I mean, I’ve seen it growing up in the industry. You see people, they said it in one of our videos that was produced, “Coming to AWRF kind of feels like coming home” because everybody’s known each other for, a lot of people have known each other for a very long time within the association. So it’s really a place that, like I said before, competitors can come and just kind of have a neutral zone where we all can talk safety, talk best practices, and not, you know, get in the nitty gritty of not liking each other.

[Klein] From the technical committee side, the only thing that I would, reach, would like to extend out to definitely the AWRF memberships or anyone in the industry is to definitely, if you want to get involved, please reach out to myself or reach out to Emily or Terry or Jeff, anybody at AWRF, to reach out and ask, “How can I be of assistance? How can I get more involved?” We have a lot of great ideas, and we try and do as much as we possibly can, but there’s always room for more. So we would love to have more people become involved on the technical, provide assistance and you know, again, you don’t have to be an engineer or anything on the, you know, the technical side. If you’re willing to just provide comment and provide assistance and get involved with helping us organize those and help us continue to strive to get that get the information out, we’d be more than happy to help you.

What to expect from AWRF’s 2024 Spring General Meeting

[Driscoll] And Tim, that was a beautiful segue in regards to the spring meeting that we’re going to be having in Nashville. But we’re actually moving the tech committee meeting right after the, I think it’s the second day, so people have an opportunity to-

[Wagner] Both days.

[Driscoll] Both days?

[Wagner] Monday and Tuesday.

[Driscoll] So Monday and Tuesday in the afternoon, they have an opportunity to sit down and see what the tech committee is all about. You don’t have to be an engineer to be on it. If you’re around this product all the time, that in itself is going to make you valuable to see how these products are used and abused out in the field.

[Wagner] I think it’ll be beneficial to having members not on the technical committee at those meetings, specifically because it’ll help the technical committee see what they need to focus on and what we need to bring to our membership that we’re not currently doing that would provide value. So I think that’s an excellent way to do that.

How can you learn more about AWRF?

[Hengst] All right, thanks, guys, for joining us. So be sure to visit awrf.org. That’s awrf.org. And as always, you can get ahold of myself, Terry, or any of our experts at Mazzella at mazzellacompanies.com. Don’t forget to stop in our learning center. We have a ton of information there. You can also watch “Safety Factor” on The Lifting & Rigging Channel, or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts. My name is Ben, and stay safe out there.


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In This Podcast:

0:00 – Intro

1:29- Meet the AWRF Board Members, Management, and Chairs

5:00 – What does Terry Driscoll do in AWRF?

5:42 – What does Emily Wagner do in AWRF?

6:08 – What does Jeff Ferchen do in AWRF?

6:49 – What does Tim Klein do in AWRF?

7:27 – What is AWRF, and what does AWRF do?

9:20 – What is the History of AWRF?

10:52 – What does AWRF do to make the rigging & lifting industry safer?

12:37 – Building a collection of Recommended Practices & Guidelines

13:23 – What were the lifting & rigging industry trends of 2023?

19:14 – What industry trends can we expect to see in the future?

21:21 – How is the lifting & rigging industry changing?

23:07 – What challenges are the rigging & lifting industry facing?

24:58 – How can businesses improve their safety culture?

28:31 – How are AWRF Recommended Practices & Guidelines created?

29:28 – Do you need to be a member of AWRF to gain benefits from it?

30:02 – How do you become a member or get involved with AWRF?

33:24 – How can you learn more about AWRF?

Disclaimer: Any advice, graphics, images, and/or information contained herein are presented for general educational and information purposes and to increase overall safety awareness. It is not intended to be legal, medical, or other expert advice or services, and should not be used in place of consultation with appropriate industry professionals. The information herein should not be considered exhaustive and the user should seek the advice of appropriate professionals.