GOOD DOLLARS AND SENSE IN UTILISING SPECIALISATION

Pressure put upon internal occupational health and safety personnel is now more crushing than ever when considering the plethora of injuries a court is likely to view as long term damage and one that warrants extended compensation.

There is normally a lot said about building bridges between employer and employee to limit the prospects of an injury happening in the workplace – often an injury that could add up to a costly compensation settlement for your business.

Conveyors tend to feature in a sizeable amount of injury statistics around Australia, mainly because they are just so prevalent across the industry sectors, and partly because safety-managing them is best done by a specialist – but that isn’t always possible.

So, spare a thought for the dedicated chap or woman that oversees safety initiatives – often within a massive company with a vertical structure and perhaps hundreds or thousands of employees that fall under it.

Welcome to the modern day problems of ensuring your staff remains safe.

With mechanical assistance playing a growing part in materials handling edge of the everyday work place, one commonly assumes that life on the factory floor, mine site, or food packaging plant becomes much safer.

Ideally, if human beings didn’t exist, this would be the way at every company. Unfortunately, anybody that has at least 15 years experience in an area associated with OH&S equipment or solutions knows the truth.

That truth is the glaring problem of human negligence around labour saving machines and other equipment. The kind of workplace tools which bring greater levels of safety but which sometimes lead workers into a false sense of security and an accidental level of on-the-job ignorance.

Listed below are some developments and considerations pertinent to OH&S in materials handling that are emerging as valuable knowledge tools:

REMOTE LOCATION SOLUTION

Occupational health and safety officers in remote locations such as mines and processing plants or even offshore oil rigs are gripped with a fairly unique challenge.

At the best of times, the pressure to perform by meeting relevant OH&S guidelines for his or her colleagues is high, but when you are at significant distance from providers of products and services often needed in a hurry the potential logistics problems can catapult an plant into a level of chaos.


In this geographically massive country, practicality is quickly replacing pride as clever companies are wisely giving the often over-burdened safety officer some latitude to outsource intelligence and paint a complete picture of safety requirements.

Not only is it a cost saving in the long run, but to use the mining industry as an example, the safety benefits can be overwhelming. Some companies in remote locations are beginning to use external specialists to look at their premises and operations to suggest safety upgrades and improvements that complement the existing structure.

Sometimes the safety officer hasn’t the luxury to draw on immediate resources so a small financial investment in third party expertise is proving a critical and positive move.

SPECIALISATION

Much to this country’s credit, specialists in most areas relating to workplace safety are not only emerging, they are being received with a genuine level of respect from the industrial market.

Whether it’s safety clothing suppliers, workplace danger analysts, accident assessment report specialists or suppliers of floor covering information and products, these specialists often walk into the market with a decade or two of experience under the belt.

In turn, this benefits the in-house safety officer at small and large companies.

Any investment in safety related issues is a major deal to a small business, and with the availability of proponents with a specialised knowledge base the economies of scale are favourable to the SME.

For the large business it is equally favourable because highly specialised providers open the way for an eclectic style of operation where safety operators can draw on specific solutions providers for different needs.

DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES AND THEIR PRODUCT NEEDS

No one industry has the same safety needs and the dynamics of the business normally have a different bearing on how specific tools of the plant may affect safety and health levels.

Take for instance the ship loading industry compared to a food production line. Although the similar mechanical equipment used to load woodchips onto a bulk carrier can also be used to move cooked vegetables in a cannery, a food grade environment presents a new challenge.

A materials handling system made from steel offers little prospect of a problem at the woodchip loading operation should corrosion set in, whereas in the food plant the corrosive nature of steel can be a contaminant.


This is but one simple example of the complexities of equipment choice, but the upside is that recent developments actually mean one does have a choice to minimise the risks. An example in this case is the materials used to make materials handling machine components.

Engineers are now looking more at inert plastics, rubbers, and other non-traditional materials from which to fashion, say, bin liners, conveyor parts, floor coverings, etc, which reduce the prospects for toxicity but retain product strength and performance.

CONVEYOR RELATED INJURIES

Reports coming from most industrial sectors – particularly mining – suggest that not enough notice is being taken on the potential dangers posed by conveyor systems.

The frequency of major injury and even death suffered by workers appears to be very high around the world if not so in Australia, but the underlying causes are as easy to remedy as they are tragic.

In the past, if conveyor roller seized it could be tapped with a hammer and perhaps begin working again. If bearing was a little squeaky they could use a grease gun and pump a few shots at it.

That cannot be done anymore – at some point there would be an accident. Machinery came from being something slow to now very fast and technical.

Years ago if a person was unfortunate enough to get a hand caught in cog a finger would be lost. Now the equipment is so powerful the entire person would be pulled through so fast there would be no time to hear them scream.

AN INNOVATIVE AND SIMPLE SOLUTION

Introducing the K-Protector Return Idler Guard;

Conveyor guarding is a vital piece of equipment on all installations where it is possible to be classed as a hazard. Conveyor guards do not have to be complicated nor interfere with productivity.

K-Protector Return Idler Guard is a practical and safe solution to provide roller pinch point protection. The guard is designed for convenient access for maintenance and is available to suit all roller diameters and belt widths.

It is lightweight and the the K-Protector Return Idler Guard’s design includes easily removable guard panels which provide convenient access to the rollers and idler for maintenance and cleaning.

The product can be simply retrofitted to existing return roller brackets and is available for steel or self cleaning rubber disc return rollers in all standard belt widths. It offers protection to the user by eliminating pinch points and the composite polymer leading edge protects the belt from wear or abrasion.

CONCLUSION

Standards of what people expect in a work environment are changing. Previously there were choking factories and now everybody expects air conditioning. Smoking is banned on entire premises.

Whilst materials handling equipment is running, it is actually inaccessible nowadays. Before, people could operate equipment that didn’t have to comply with OH&S standards. Therefore if material was spilled it could be shovelled back onto a materials handling system. For the betterment of society as a whole, and especially to have workers safely arrive home to their loved ones, those days are almost behind us.

For more information on your specific requirements, contact Kinder Australia on +61 38587 9111 or email Kinder