Canadian Rental Service

Features Business Intelligence
Editorial: October 2014

As a charitable fad supporting the fight against ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge is practically made for the rental industry.


September 17, 2014
By Patrick Flannery


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As a charitable fad supporting the fight against ALS, the Ice Bucket Challenge is practically made for the rental industry. It takes advantage of some of the best qualities of rental store people: humour, humility, generosity, energy and friendly competitive spirit. In case you are not familiar with the Challenge, it simply involves people posting a video of themselves having ice-cold water dumped over their heads in response to a dare from someone who has donated to the ALS Association. After the chilly stunt, participants often challenge others to follow suit. I have greatly enjoyed some of the videos that have been making the rounds online showing rental store owners and staff getting doused, then calling on their colleagues and competitors to do the same. Of course, being rental operators, no ordinary bucket will suffice. Many participants are filling up the biggest wheel loader and excavator buckets they have to make a truly spectacular splash.

Unfortunately, it is my dreary duty to pour cold water on this practice. In order to have the water from a vehicle’s bucket dumped on your head, you have to stand right under the bucket when it is suspended off the ground. This is a safety no-no. According to Toni Volpato, a consultant with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, “I definitely think this would be a risky thing to do. Section 25 (2)(h) [of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act] says, ‘Take every precaution necessary for the protection of the worker’ under Employer Duties and Section 27 for Supervisor Duties. I suggest keeping it simple with a regular-sized bucket of water.” The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety concurs, recommending operators prevent anyone from standing or walking under a raised equipment bucket, even by accident. As you know, even a well-maintained mechanical system can fail unexpectedly. It just wouldn’t do for a hydraulic or electrical failure – or operator error – to cause the bucket to drop with people underneath it. So, while this version of the ice-bucket challenge is fun, supports a great cause and is probably safe 999 times out of 1,000, it still might not be worth the risk of a civil lawsuit and prosecution by the Ministry of Labour (or your provincial equivalent) if someone gets hurt. And just seeing the video could trigger a visit from Ministry officials. That is why you won’t see any of these videos, entertaining as they are, appear on any Canadian Rental Service communication channels. We certainly do not want to get anyone into trouble.

Now that I am done throwing a wet blanket on everyone’s good time, I’ll do something more in the spirit of the day. Go to canadianrentalservice.com to see video of me taking the Ice Bucket Challenge, and challenging Jeff Campbell of St. Thomas Rental, Jim Freeman of Rentquip and Gary Webb of L.B. White to get in on the fun. No parkas or raincoats, gentlemen!

You’ll find our annual heater showcase on page 30, easily our largest and most popular product roundup of the year. We have fielded some criticism about the timing of this years’ showcase, with suppliers pointing out that most stores have done their heat fleet buying by September, so the information comes too late to inform the fall buying season. Message received. We will move the heater showcase to the September issue for next year.  


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