Over 140 UK local authorities have adopted Reactec’s hand-arm vibration technology to protect their maintenance teams.
We met with Chris Whiting, Health and Safety Compliance Officer at Wrexham County Borough Council who shared his experience of using Reactec’s ecosystem of workplace wearables and cloud-based Analytics to protect grounds maintenance teams from exposure to vibration.
Wrexham Council has modernised its approach to managing exposure to hand-arm vibration as Chris explained:
“Previously, Wrexham used paper-based methods of recording and calculating exposure to vibration. Although this approach was compliant with the HSE, we found the process was time-consuming because it involved signing out tools and calculating exposure points manually”.
“We originally colour-coded tools so that operatives were using them based on a traffic-light system. This meant, operatives knew that their time was limited when using red-tagged tools, because they had a high vibration magnitude”.
Chris continued: “however, we wanted to be absolutely certain that our process for recording exposure to vibration was accurate. Especially because tools are exposed to wear and tear over the course of their lifetime, and manual data entry calculations can be prone to human error”.
"Operatives realised why we introduced R-Link and were on board fairly quickly. The training materials and onsite support provided from Reactec has really helped. It’s been brilliant”.
“Once I started my role as the Health and Safety Compliance Officer, I wasn’t happy with the paper-based system and approached companies to see what technology was on offer” said Chris.
“It was very important to raise awareness among our operatives about wearing R-Link to protect themselves from hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)” explained Chris.
“During rollout, I was a bit hesitant that creating tool tags would take a long time, but I was able to use our internal asset register system to obtain all the tooling information, which included vibration magnitudes, and this turned out to be a very fast operation”.
Chris continued: “I held toolbox talks, firstly with the supervisors and line managers. Once they were happy with the system, I then held toolbox talks each morning with around ten operatives at a time. After the meeting, I would issue them with R-Link, an operator card, and would go out later during the day to see how they we’re getting on”.
Chris mentioned: “Most operatives realised why we introduced R-Link and were on board fairly quickly. The training materials and onsite support provided from Reactec has really helped. It’s been brilliant”.
“We also use the Reactec RASOR device so we can go out and collect live GPS tracked exposure data and make timely interventions. RASOR gives me the capability to train and improve an operative’s techniques on site. Again, this improves our safety culture, because the operatives know you are there to help them”.
“We now have around 120 operatives using R-Link across six sites, from the grounds maintenance teams in the city centre, to highways teams and Rangers working remotely” said Chris.
“Our operatives find R-Link much easier to use than HAVWEAR. R-Link displays more tooling information and is less bulky than the HAVWEAR device”.
“We use the R-Link exposure based on the vibration programmed in tool tags (TEP) to inform workers in real time. We also find the real use exposure based on R-Link’s sensed vibration beneficial for a deeper insight to ageing tools or poorly used tools”.
“R-Link has definitely given us the controls we need and our operatives can now self-monitor, which is gaining their trust”.
“I manage the Reactec Analytics software and regularly check the watches which are signed out, and review the dashboard to see if any operatives have gone over their exposure limit. The daily e-mail alerts are a massive help. I review them first thing in the morning, so that I can action anything before an operative even leaves the yard”.
Chris mentioned: “Using tool usage reports have also given us insight to manage our equipment inventory and budgets better. I can track certain tools, or operatives, to ensure they are tagging onto the tools correctly and this lets me see which tools are being used, and how often”.
Chris mentioned: “We also use the Reactec RASOR device so we can go out and collect live GPS tracked exposure data and make timely interventions, such as rotating staff or investigate how they are holding the tool. RASOR gives me the capability to train and improve an operative’s technique on site. Again, this improves our safety culture because the operatives know you are there to help them”
“Together, we’re taking control of hand-arm vibration instead of it taking control of us”