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£780k investment in safety technology at Wavin factory

Wavin, has invested over three quarters of a million pounds as part of its ongoing commitment to help protect its staff and visitors that work with and around forklifts at its manufacturing site at Hazlehead near Sheffield.

Wavin, UK manufacturer of clay and plastic pipes, will invest over £780,000 during a five-year project that has taken delivery of 16 new forklifts and 6 Bradshaw picking vehicles to its Hazlehead site. The factory manufactures clay pipes supporting the Hepworth Clay brand, which has been based near the Pennine village of the same name for over a hundred and fifty years.

 The new fleet of forklifts have been successfully integrated onto its Hazlehead site which employs over 120 staff, the forklifts are brimming with new technology to keep its drivers and site team safe.

The new forklifts are fitted with speed limiting systems to manage the transition from outdoor to indoor driving speeds more effectively. The seats have a raised driving position that improves forward visibility enabling drivers to locate their co-workers better when carrying the taller pipe packs around site. LED road lights increase the ability of pedestrians to sense and identify an approaching truck.

Dave Wilson, warehouse and distribution manager at the Hazlehead site, said: “As part of Wavin’s regular safety checks, we canvassed our forklift team to understand the issues and pressures they’re facing day-to-day.

“Because of the size of the packs of pipes we move, it was previously not possible to see over the product looking forwards, so reversing to manoeuvre these packs was common place. We found that this was causing undue stress to drivers’ lower body as they needed to twist around to see behind them as they manoeuvred.”

Using forklifts with raised driving positions enables significantly improved forward vision, with reversing being reduced by 60-70 per cent in most areas of the site, and up to 90 per cent in others.

Wilson said: “We can’t eliminate reversing completely, so the swivelling seats are much more ergonomically friendly for our drivers when they do need to look behind them as they move product around site.”

The forklifts are also fitted with reversing cameras and protection sensors – similar to those found in modern cars – to ensure the drivers operate safely in their environment. This compliments Wavin’s existing fleet, already fitted with Bluespot technology, which provides visual warnings to any nearby pedestrians reducing the risk of contact.   

Wilson continued: “Another concern raised by our team during our canvassing was that the speed of the forklifts should be kept to walking pace when indoors. Our new forklifts are fitted with sensors that immediately slows any forklifts coming indoors to four mph and keeps forklifts to the site limit when outdoors. This has taken the pressure off our drivers who can be more vigilant regarding their surroundings and colleagues which makes for a safer working environment.”

In addition to this, each forklift has a system to ensure that the driver is currently licenced to drive that specification of vehicle. The drivers also undertake a comprehensive safety check on the vehicle before starting shift.

Andrew Crosby at Wavin UK, who managed the introduction of the investment, said: “It has been great to find a solution that has helped us to make sure our team are cared for and our onsite traffic is controlled. We have raised the standard with this specification of forklift, to be rolled out across our UK Operations under a planned introduction programme. The benefits are designed to ensure our staff across the country are safe and secure while at work.”

 

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