A Day in the Life

Risk Assessment Walk-Through

A day-in-the-life series based on accounts from real workers

The ability to overlay data about individual workers’ exposure to risk from multiple sources - like vibration, dust, noise, and proximity - is something new, and it’s a genuinely game-changing opportunity for teams operating in dynamic working environments. Historically, this data was either unavailable entirely or siloed in different sources. But with R-Link, which is powered by Reactec’s industry-defining Analytics, this ability isn’t just a reality, it’s easier than ever to deploy.

R-Link collects and collates critical insight and information about your workers’ exposure to risk before automatically transforming it into actionable intelligence that you can use to uncover trends and patterns or unlock opportunities for new or improved controls. It’s a lightweight, purpose built solution that sophisticated teams are using to take control of their risk environment and improve their compliance efforts.

To help you fully understand the added value of the R-Link ecosystem, we’ve put together a timeline that follows a worker through a typical day. This is part of our new “Day In The Life” series, where we consult real-life workers in various sectors and roles to see how they regularly interact with risk, what their employers are doing about it, and what their exposure really looks like.

Below is an hour-by-hour account of a typical workday for John 1 a worker in the props department of a big budget production company. John spends his days in studios and on location constructing and breaking down elaborate film sets. On any given day, he is exposed to vibration, dust, and noise from several tools, including reciprocating saws, circular saws, and angle grinders. John also regularly operates scissor lifts and cherry pickers, which expose him to potentially dangerous people-plant interface situations.

A day in the working life of John, film technician

Setting the health and safety scene:

John’s team is safety-focussed. His Safety Manager tracks tool rotation and worker assignments by hand, and PPE is required in the workshop. In terms of monitoring and managing their risk environment, they’ve undergone third party risk assessments for vibration, noise, and dust, and they provide safety and certification courses for team members that need to operate heavy machinery or specialty equipment.

John’s team doesn’t use any smart technology, like R-Link, to monitor or manage risk in the workplace.

Let’s take a look at a typical workday for John.

John arrives at work. His current project involves constructing an entire city street for a major motion picture, complete with store fronts, traffic lights, mail boxes, telephone boxes, and traffic signs. He’ll be working in the studio (not on location) for this project. Today, he’ll be doing work to build a storefront and erect traffic lights.

0730 ➝ 1000:

The storefront will be constructed from wood, and will include metal rolling gates. John starts with the carpentry work at 0730, using a circular saw. Even though John is a competent and experienced operator, the saw generates a lot of vibration, and he uses it consistently for over two hours. Something John doesn’t realise is that this particular saw was dropped recently by a co-worker. As a result, it generates more vibration than a saw in perfect condition. John doesn’t realise it, but he’s just been exposed to vibration above the EAV (Exposure Action Value), the daily amount of vibration exposure above which employers are required to take action to control exposure.

1000 ➝ 1230:
Once he finishes the woodwork, he moves on to the metal work. He cuts metal sheets with a reciprocating saw before assembling them together to make the metal gate for the store front. During the cutting process, he’s exposed to noise levels in excess of 100dBA. Per the HSE, if employees are exposed to an average noise level of more than 85dBA over an eight-hour period, employers are required to provide ear protection, and employees are required to wear them. John wore ear defenders to begin working with the saw, but part way through his task, a co-worker asked him a question (a regular occurrence on a busy film set). John removed his ear defenders to respond, and then forgot to put them back in while he finished his work. John is expected to carry on with this task for the next several days.

1330 ➝ 1500:
After a brief lunch, John is tasked with erecting full-sized traffic lights on set. This will require John to operate a boom lift (commonly known as a cherry picker). John is a competent operator and has recently completed a recertification course for driving and manoeuvring a cherry picker. While he’s operating the lift, a junior member of John’s crew - someone unfamiliar with workshops and best practices - begins stacking supplies near where John is working. When John begins reversing, he can’t see the worker or the stack of supplies behind him, resulting in a near-miss incident between the lift and John’s co-worker, who he almost backs into.

1600 ➝ 1630:

After filling out an incident report, John has time for one more task. He’s asked to go outside and assist a colleague who is cutting paver stones for the street scene. He uses a circular saw and angle grinder to get the job done. He wears a mask during the task, but notices that the dust extraction unit nearby isn’t working properly. He decides to go ahead and finish the task since it won’t take him too much time to finish the cuts.

During this task, even with his mask on, John is exposed to silica dust, an invisible but potentially harmful type of dust that workers inhale when they work with certain materials, including paver stones. Over time, inhaling dangerous dust can lead to serious health consequences, including asthma, COPD, or silicosis.

One day, multiple sources of risk

Over the course of one day, John was exposed to risk from several sources, including vibration, noise, and dust. He also had a near-miss while operating a cherry picker.

Despite John’s competency as a tool and equipment operator and despite the measures that John’s team takes to ensure the health and safety of workers - including providing PPE and carrying out compliant risk assessments - John was still exposed to a potentially harmful amount of risk during a standard shift.

But John’s exposure to potentially harmful levels of risk from vibration, noise, or dust isn’t the biggest issue in this scenario.

The biggest issue is that no one - including John - knew about it, or had any real control over it.

Levelling up your health and safety efforts with accurate, reliable data

Even in safety-conscious organisations and teams, it’s very possible for workers to be exposed to potentially dangerous levels of risk from common tools, equipment, or materials. Third party risk assessments and health surveillance programmes are useful for achieving compliance and helping you gain a better understanding of your risk environment, but they don’t give you the information that you need to most effectively refine your controls or implement better, safer ways of working.

Real time or near-real time data about individual workers’ exposure gives you more than in-the-moment alerts and notifications. In fact, some of the most powerful capabilities of R-Link lie in its power to help you make sense of this real-time data, over time.

For example, had John’s Safety Manager automatically received regular reports breaking down his team’s risk from exposure to vibration, he may have noticed that a saw was performing poorly and exposing users to more HAV than usual. This information - called ‘actionable intelligence’ - would have enabled him to identify a hotspot and driven him to take action (i.e. servicing the saw).

And if he’d had information that overlaid data from employees’ exposure to multiple sources of risk - including vibration, noise, and dust - he could take his analysis one step further, and gain a 360-degree view into his risk environment. With this additional layer of context, he could identify whether he has workers who are consistently exceeding exposure thresholds, and take action to mitigate the problem, such as training or supervised tool use. To learn more about how operator competency and tool condition can impact the amount of risk to which an employee is exposed while using vibrating tools, you can watch this video.

Plus, with R-Link’s cutting edge proximity detection technology, John could have more easily avoided the near-miss incident with his co-worker. With alerts for potential people-plant interface situations, R-Link makes it possible for teams to seamlessly start creating safer workplaces.

Technology’s place in risk monitoring and management is becoming increasingly important. With R-Link, you can effortlessly transform what you know about your risk environment from averages and estimates into the most accurate, most reliable information possible. Armed with this unprecedented level of context and insight, you’ll amplify your compliance efforts while instantly creating the opportunity for better health outcomes for your workforce.

1 John and his team are fictional, and our assessments of John’s exposure to risk is based on a fictional account of a typical working day. We consulted with a professional in the film industry for this article and relied on that person’s experiences and feedback to create this timeline.

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