For the past 60 years Walton Park Sand has provided specialist sand products for foundries, industrial flooring, construction and water filtration systems across Otago and New Zealand. Over time Walton Park Sand has adapted and revolutionised their processes for bagging and palletising dried sand products with staff safety and wellbeing being a catalyst for change.
Risks and fatigue:
In the early days, bagging sand into 25kg sacks was labour intensive and involved an operator manually placing bags on a machine to fill, whilst stacking pallets with filled bags. The old process created a number of risks including the operator being next to pouring sand, repetitive process complacency, manual lifting, twisting, sprains and strains and fatigue. To mitigate these risks Walton Park Sand investigated safer bagging options and commence the process of automating the bagging and palletising of dried sand products.
After partnering with Aurora Processing Solutions, they inspected the bagging operation and worked closely with the bagging operator and Walton Park Sand to ensure all aspects of the bagging process could be incorporated into the automation. After discussing with Aurora Processing Solutions and determining the correct machinery for the bagging and palletising work, a case study was put forward to the Blackhead Quarries Board of Directors who approved the purchase and installation of the new equipment. At the same time, the Board approved a business case to upgrade the ventilation system to improve the air quality in the bagging plant reducing the risk of operators contracting silicosis in the work environment. To provide consistency across the operation, engineered and process systematic upgrades were completed in the drying plant area.
Throughout the tendering, selection and installation aspects of the upgrades across the operation continued consultation with the operators was undertaken to ensure their risks and concerns were heard and addressed by the upgrades. In addition this consultation empowered staff to take ownership of the machinery and their new duties in operating the machinery.
To empower worker participation, Samsung tablets have been purchased to enable staff to complete their daily iAuditor responsibilities and were selected to ensure staff of all ages could utilise the technology. The iAuditor system, has now been adopted across the Blackhead Quarries business and has the added advantage of being functional in low and no cellphone reception.
Utilising app-based technology enables push notifications to be sent directly to managers to complete their tasks and to remind them about outstanding actions.
These recent additions to the safety systems at Walton Park Sand and Blackhead Quarries has increased the communication between staff and managers outside of formal tailgates and monthly H&S meetings. It has strengthened a health and safety system that continues to celebrate achievements such as 1,236 injury free days at Walton Park Sand (at the time of lodging the application for this award).
(Runners up for the 2021 Winstone Aggregates Safety Award were Flat Top Quarry).