In the Toughest Conditions, Cat Dealers in Afghanistan Prove that Zero Injuries is Possible
Puckett Global Service in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Cat dealers are proving that you can achieve zero injuries – even if you’re in the middle of a war zone. Dealer personnel have been onsite in Afghanistan since 2008, providing support for the U.S. military’s fleet of Cat machinery. The two dealers that are currently present in Afghanistan providing this support are Allied Machinery of Afghanistan and Puckett Global Services (PGS) of the Puckett Machinery dealership in Mississippi, USA.
Both dealers operate “REFURB” programs, which entails the inspection of Cat equipment owned by the U.S. military and making necessary repairs to bring the machines up to U.S. military standards. And despite working 70-75 hours per week, technicians at both dealers’ REFURB facilities have achieved more than a full year with zero injuries. This is even more impressive when you consider the conditions in which these personnel are working:
- Being on a U.S. military base, they endure occasional rocket attacks.
- Temperatures routinely reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).
- Due to a lack of typical shop facilities, crews spend about half of their time working under shade tarps. In addition, whenever equipment needs to be moved, they must do so without the convenience of overhead cranes.
- Some machines have been damaged by explosions from insurgent attacks, which creates a lot of sharp edges and other safety concerns that technicians need to be aware of.
- Access to medical care is extremely limited in some areas.
Allied Machinery has 12 technicians working and living at Bagram Airfield near Bagram, Afghanistan, and PGS has five technicians living and working at Kandahar Airfield near Kandahar, Afghanistan. When they’re not thinking about avoiding enemy fire, the technicians must still concentrate on safety on the job.
“PGS has not experienced a safety incident since we started this operation more than 16 months ago,” said Charles Felsher, PGS Program Manager on-site in Kandahar. “Safety is our program’s top priority, which is important because without the essential equipment delivered by our workforce, the U.S. military wouldn’t be able to complete their mission.”
Most Cat machines and engines being refurbished were originally delivered to the U.S. Army in the 1980s and are refurbished approximately once every four years while in Afghanistan. The facility in Kandahar typically has five machines being serviced at any particular time, and the Bagram facility typically has eight machines.
“We haven’t had an accident since 2010, and it’s due to the focus on safety that our workforce has at all times,” said Ameer Buksh, Program Manager for Allied Machinery. “Whether it’s protective gear for grinding on a piece of steel, welding, lifting heavy equipment, or keeping the path clear toward fire extinguishers so they can be quickly reached in an emergency, our team is 100 percent focused on working injury-free, and our results prove it.”
And, as Felsher concluded, the reason for this intense focus on technicians’ safety is simple. “We want all of them to return home to their loved ones just as they departed.”