Siemens Energy Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd chose Reactec's HAVWEAR solution for monitoring exposure to vibration due its valuable insight.
Siemens Energy Industrial Turbomachinery Limited (SEITL), part of the Siemens Energy Industrial Power Generation division of Siemens AG, designs, manufactures and services small industrial gas turbines, with 3,500 units installed across 90 countries.
Based in Lincoln, there are 3 main sites including a main works plant for new engines, a development division and a service and maintenance plant.
The health, safety and wellbeing of SEITL employees is paramount. As a manufacturer and servicing company, the SEITL workforce regularly use a multitude of power tools and being able to measure and manage potential risks from exposure to vibration is a key consideration.
When it comes to managing this risk, SEITL's biggest challenge is knowing exactly what levels and sources of vibration its workers are exposed to. Historically, SEITL has relied on two primary sources of information for vibration exposure levels: vibration testing carried out during the servicing of power tools and manufacturer guidelines on reported "vibration values”.
However, over time, SEITL realised that these methods weren’t sufficient to meaningfully identify its workers' actual exposure levels. Gael Hanson, Principal EHS Engineer, explains further: “When it comes to HAV, we know what the legislation says our exposure limits are, we know what a particular tool is capable of and what levels of vibration it would emit, but we didn’t actually know what levels we were exposing our workforce to.
“Once you start putting different accessories, grinding wheels etc. onto a power tool, it changes. You’ve also got to consider that each individual operative will have a different level of exposure, even when using the same tool – they’ll hold it differently, apply different pressure, and so on. So, we had a lot of work to do in order to understand what the actual exposure was, compared to what we believed it to be.”
Without a doubt, the biggest benefit in using HAVWEAR is having the ability to know more realistically what vibration levels our employees are exposed to.
SEITL ultimately chose Reactec's HAVWEAR to monitor its workers' exposure levels, because of the robust support and insight the system offers. The wrist-worn aspect of the technology was an important factor in their decision, but the key driver for the adoption of HAVWEAR was the Reactec Analytics software, which turns HAV data into actionable intelligence.
HAVWEAR has the ability to calculate HAV risk exposure points using two methods: Tool Exposure Points (TEP) and Sensed Exposure Points (SEP). Both are based on an accurately measured time of exposure to vibration, while TEP combines this with an expected vibration level for each tool and SEP combines the time with a real-time, real-use vibration level.
Comparing the assumed tool vibration and real-time vibration magnitude calculations, and the impact on HAV exposure from the difference, gives a valuable insight into the experience of a single worker. All the data is readily accessed in an understandable format allowing individual risk to be understood before exposure compounds and irreversible damage have been done.
SEITL initially reviewed the TEP but quickly realised that the SEP was significantly higher than what they anticipated and, as a result of this information, changed their processes to strengthen their controls based on SEP. Gael Hanson said, “We are using Sensed Exposure Points more predominantly as this equipment is all about protecting our employees and, if the sensed data is giving us a more realistic overview of what they’re being exposed to, then that’s what we should be, and are, focusing on”.
"HAVWEAR gives us the confidence in knowing that we are keeping our workers safe, and it empowers individual users to know when they’ve reached a limit and to take necessary action."
The insight provided by Reactec Analytics has been essential in SEITL’s focus on employee health and safety. There are several layers of reporting in addition to their daily interaction with the software, whereby the EHS teams, operations managers and senior management receive a variety of easy-to-understand reports, informing them of employee monitored risk data, as well as tool monitoring information. This allows all duty holders to be aware of employee risk levels and contribute to developing controls and processes which can lower that risk.
SEITL have also been using HAVWEAR to run trials on equipment in order to understand the differences measured between left-handed users versus right-handed users, reviewing what tools are being used, the processes they’re following at that time and more.
Gael Hanson added “Without a doubt, the biggest benefit in using HAVWEAR is having the ability to know more realistically what vibration levels our employees are exposed to. It not only gives us the confidence in knowing that we are keeping our workforce safe, but it empowers each individual to know when they’ve reached a level that we’ve deemed unsafe and to give them the confidence to stop that particular task.
“When it comes to HSE compliance, we can confidently provide evidence that we are protecting our teams. With the click of a button, I can show exactly who, where, what, why, when and for how long someone has been exposed to the risk of vibration. We have our own intervention documentation as well, so it’s just instant… it’s all there, documented and controlled”.
"When it comes to HSE compliance, we can confidently evidence that we are protecting our teams"
SEITL initially deployed the system to their most vulnerable personnel, such as those people that already had significant HAVS exposure or certain related medical diagnoses. The company then made the decision to take a more proactive approach and deploy the HAVWEAR system across the entire organisation; any operator who handles a power tool must now wear a HAVWEAR watch – that’s around 125 individual personal users of the system across all three sites, making up around 40% of the business.
The company has also recently rolled out HAVWEAR into their Aberdeen site.