This month we are celebrating after winning our first ECA (Electrical Contractors’ Association) award for ‘Best Health & Safety Initiative’.
This prestigious award recognises those who have done something exceptional to improve occupational safety and/or health within an organisation. Due to the awards being cancelled in 2020 we were able to draw on a programme of change which was completed in late 2019.
Statistics show that manual handling and musculoskeletal injuries are a common occurrence amongst electrical panel builders; and with this in mind, we saw an opportunity to change this trend and invest in our people by purchasing equipment that could eliminate or reduce the injury risk considerably. There were four steps involved with this programme:
- Wire crimping process
Firstly, we looked at the wire crimping process as this was a completely manual job that risked repetitive strain injury or conditions such as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. We decided to eliminate this by investing in an automatic wire cutting and stripping machine; and as a result, we not only saw a significant improvement in output efficiencies, but we are also delighted to report there have been zero musculoskeletal injuries raised since the machine was introduced.
- Control panel cut-outs
Our next focus was to look at the control panel cutting and drilling jobs, which again were all manual prior to 2019. After thorough research, we proceeded to invest in a Rittal Perforex Laser Cutting Center, which whilst it was our most expensive investment, has proved its worth ever since.
Previously it could take a panel technician numerous hours to complete the cutting for a panel, yet with the introduction of the Perforex this task can now be completed within a couple of minutes – regardless of the complexity and has completely removed the human element. Associated risks with excessive drilling, noise exposure, manual handling, and arm vibration (HAVS) injuries have been removed, efficiencies within the manufacturing facility have increased considerably and the team are more motivated as they are able to work on more skilled tasks whilst the Perforex takes on the repetitive cutting jobs.
- Panel wiring
We then looked at the panel wiring element of the manufacturing facility and noticed a lot of the wire persons had poor posture. The panels would be placed flat on a workbench, and this meant the wire-person had to bend or hunch over the panel for potentially hours.
By investing in several Rittal Assemblex and LT1000 trolleys we were able to revolutionise how panels were wired. Wire-persons can adjust the trolley to whatever height and angle they require at a touch of a button, meaning the panel is in an optimum position for wiring.
We are delighted to be able to report that there have been zero manual handling injuries relating to poor posture since the introduction of these bits of kit.
- Communication and training
The last thing we did to improve the working environment within the manufacturing facility was ensured all members of the team were given adequate training, giving them the confidence to use the new technology with ease. We were aware that introducing technology can sometimes seem daunting to those who are used to working manually, and there is always some resistance to change; however, by providing thorough training and communicating the benefits the equipment was going to bring to the facility the team quickly embraced this modification.
We installed a couple of large monitor screens within a ‘Smart Hub’ area of the facility to enable teams to host briefings or kick-off meetings where they would be able to look at a 3D model of the panels due to be worked on. For the craftspeople who work at LCA we have found this to be beneficial as they tend to be more visually led or kinaesthetic learners and allowing them the opportunity to ‘fly around’ and look inside the panel they will be working on that day they are able to gain real insights into how it needs to be put together.
SHEQ Manager, Wayne Griffiths led this programme of change and recently stated that over five million man-hours have been worked since we had the last reportable accident.