Lancashire County Council reduce exposure to vibration for frontline operatives
Working for a local authority highways maintenance team is a dynamic role with varied activities. We caught-up with Garreth Kelly, the Highways Manager for Countywide Projects at Lancashire County Council, to discuss how Reactec’s connected worker technology has helped the authority to overcome challenges with managing exposure to vibration at work.
The challenges of managing exposure to vibration:
“We found that the biggest challenge was making sure our process for recording and calculating an operatives’ daily exposure was both accurate and as efficient as possible” Garreth said.
“Before we rolled out Reactec’s Hand-arm Vibration (HAV) monitoring system, we relied upon paper-based methods. This took a lot of time for our operatives and back-office staff to manually enter exposure data on top of the work demands already placed upon them”.
“We wanted to streamline recording and tracking exposure to vibration, so we decided to implement a more automated process, which would also remove any ambiguity around the data which was collected” Garreth added.
An automated solution:
“Reactec’s HAV monitoring devices have modernised the authority’s approach to managing exposure to vibration with more accuracy and in less time, by automatically collecting and storing data in the Reactec Analytics platform”.
Lancashire County Council now have over 300 operatives using Reactec’s HAV monitoring system across every discipline from joinery, street lighting, to electricians and road surfacing.
“Reactec has taken onboard customer feedback about HAVWEAR when developing the R-Link smart watch. I know the watch looks much slicker and displays more tooling information, but connecting gateways and transmitting data has also been a big improvement”.
Making the switch from HAVWEAR to R-Link:
Garreth commented: “we are now in the process of phasing out HAVWEAR. We held quarterly toolbox talks with operatives across individual depots on how to use R-Link, with onsite support from the Reactec training team”.
“The operatives prefer R-Link, and because they had experience of using HAVWEAR from before, we found that the roll out of R-Link was fairly self-explanatory”.
Garreth added: “Reactec has taken onboard customer feedback about HAVWEAR when developing the R-Link smart watch. I know the watch looks much slicker and displays more tooling information, but connecting gateways and transmitting data has also been a big improvement”.
“We review exposure to vibration data from R-Link throughout the course of a day, often when operatives return to central locations for lunch for example”. Garreth explained.
“This allowed managers to intervene earlier during the operatives shift, if they were approaching the exposure action value”.
“If an operative exceeds the exposure action value, their manager will rotate the task or discuss using different tools to complete the task”.
Garreth explained that: “exceeding the exposure limit value, however, is a hard stop. It’s a breach of our health and safety policy”.
Interrogating data in Reactec Analytics:
“We use Reactec’s HAV monitoring technology and analytics software to police this whole process”.
“Reactec Analytics allows our managers to interrogate the data and set-up tailored reports. It’s all stored on the one place, so we don’t have to work between multiple documents like before”.
Garreth explained that vibration data from Reactec Analytics can help develop exposure trends over time:
“We now average an operatives’ exposure over the last three years. Exposure is a fraction of what we thought it was, and that average is reducing all the time”.
“We use this data for health screening purposes so if an operative has had a lot of exposure to vibration, they can be seen more frequently by our healthcare provider”.
"The biggest gain of using HAV monitoring technology, like R-Link, is that it provides us with exact real-time data to help reduce exposure to vibration and protect our frontline operatives. That’s the value for me, 100%”.
Detecting faulty plant early:
Data from Reactec Analytics has supported Lancashire County Council to reduce exposure to operatives and also pick-up faulty plant early.
“We’re finding faults with equipment that we didn’t know we had, and these are faults that operatives can’t necessarily see”.
“Our weekly automated tool usage reports identify over-emitting tools during a 10-week period” explained Garreth.
“This report has helped the local authority to repair tools, if it’s our own, or return them to the hire company, before the operatives even get their hands on them”.
“Not only that, results we were seeing from the exposure to vibration data from tool usage strengthened our case to move to electric” Garreth added.
“Our grounds maintenance teams have moved to electric hedge trimmers, strimmers and blowers and we found exposure to vibration for battery operated equipment was only a quarter compared with the petrol version.
“However, the biggest gain of using HAV monitoring technology, like R-Link, is that it provides us with exact real-time data to help reduce exposure to vibration and protect our frontline operatives. That’s the value for me, 100%”.