Archive 2016 10

29 Safety first Builder & Engineer looks at the latest tools and equipment on the market to help safeguard workers against accidents THE right tools for the job are important in any line of work but particularly in the construction industry, where the correct equipment can mean the difference between life and death. While great strides have been made to improve site safety with the number of reported accidents falling by around 40 per cent since 2002, more than 200 workers have been killed in the workplace over the past five years. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 37,102 injuries in construction and manual industries last year. Of those, 4,339 (12 per cent) were hit by a dropped object and a further 21 fatally injured by falling tools or equipment. “Something as small as a bolt dropped from a sixth floor building – which is equivalent to being hit by 49.5kgs at 50mph – is enough to kill someone, even if they are wearing a hard hat,” says Damian Lynes, a safety expert at OnSite Support. To minimise the risks, Lynes suggests tools which are being transported or hoisted at height should always be carried in a purposedesigned bag or pouch with a closure so that items such as hand tools and nuts and bolts cannot fall out. With around 10 per cent of fatalities in the construction sector caused by moving vehicles, safety is central to the construction team at Wincanton. As part of an ongoing Urban Artics programme, the logistics company is currently investing more than £20 million into the development of Mechanical Offload (MOL) vehicles, which includes an articulated trailer designed specifically for its construction fleet. With a unique tandem axle combination, rear axle steering and remote control Hiab 099E roll loader crane, which can be operated at ground level or from a platform on the crane, the trailer features a number of safeguards and offers enhanced manoeuvrability. The operator platform incorporates a sensor which prevents the crane from encroaching in to the platform area, while both the remote control joystick and crane require duel switch confirmation to release the brick grab, therefore avoiding any instances of accidental release or unexpected movement. Responsible for delivering 400,000 loads to building sites across the UK, Wincanton has also created a safer solution to maintaining bulk powder tankers. Not happy with drivers having to check for residual product by scaling and entering tankers via man lids located on top of the vessel, the firm has introduced unique tankers with low level lids. “This innovative design enables drivers to access the tanker at ground level – a simple and unique solution, but one that represents a big move forward in terms of health and safety,” says Ranald Forbes, business unit director at Wincanton. With numerous fatalities and many serious accidents attributed to the incorrect use of semi-automatic couplers, the team at Hill Engineering has increased site safety by inventing the Tefra Quick Coupler. According to the manufacturer, the integral primary and secondary safety systems in Tefra eliminate one of the most dangerous aspects of handling attachments – the risk of digger bucket attachments coming away completely. To solve this problem, Hill Engineering has used a positive locking system rather than a gravity locking system, making the crucial safety feature ‘active’ and not ‘passive’ in the way it works. With only three moving parts, “the innovative technical features of the product have raised the safety benchmark for the industry and will ultimately help prevent unsafe working practices,” says Ian Hill, managing director at Hill Engineering. Aside from injuries, construction workers are also more likely to develop diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer and asthma because many common tasks – including cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing – create high dust levels. In fact, more than 500 workers each year die from exposure to silica dust – a natural substance found in bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar. Fixing and fastening has been a key area of focus for jobsite health and safety in recent years, particularly in relation to managing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and dust when drilling. In order to minimise the risks, Hilti has developed the BX 3 Cordless direct fastening tool, which is capable of driving nails into concrete and steel with a battery as its only power source. Suitable for a wide range of electrical and interior finishing fastening applications, Hilti says the BX 3, which has a HSE points value of just 0.01, is virtually dust, recoil and vibration free. And with the greatest danger to construction workers being a fall from height, contributing to almost half of all deaths (97) since 2011, the cordless BX 3 is also safer for operators working at height and over-head. When used with the tool extension it eliminates the need for ladders and platforms, explains Dean Port, CEO of Crystal Electronics Ltd, who says the BX 3 has “really changed the way we work.” n Top 10 tool safety tips • Don’t carry tools by the power cord • Use the right tool for the job • Wear suitable protective clothing • Avoid working with power tools in wet conditions • Check tools for defects before use • Keep tools clean, well maintained and in good condition • Keep hands and feet clear of moving parts • Never carry sharp or pointed tools in pockets • Never carry tools up ladders by hand • Make sure correct training is given before using equipment

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