Changing workforce – changing demands, but the solution remains the same

This month Brady’s Expert, Liz Gallagher takes the New Year as a timely opportunity to review visual safety around the workplace with key strategies and some thought-provoking insights about the impact of age at both ends of an employee’s career

Visuals for the Process Industry - a very human angle.

Brady colleagues have recently launched a whitepaper looking at Equipment Visuals in the Process Environment and it highlights a number of very interesting points, notably the need to embrace a changing workforce which encompasses both ends of the age spectrum. For example, did you know that after the age of 60, the eyesight of a worker diminishes and requires eight times more lighting to see clearly? Hearing also declines often due to many years of working in high-noise workplaces. As our older workforce nears retirement, their younger replacements are often fewer in number, are expected to ‘hit the ground running’  and must master the ability to perform critical tasks correctly, the first time, while in a steep learning curve.  The job of mentoring and training the younger workforce typically lands on the shoulders of the more senior, experienced operating and maintenance technicians. In many cases, these senior members of staff may not be “skilled trainers” and employers may not have the luxury of time-based traditional approaches to training and skill-building. The training and learning process must be improved and streamlined and equipment visuals can make a significant contribution.

The theory behind ‘Equipment Visuals’ is to aid the efficiency and effectiveness of the employee with equipment, including a wide variety of equipment-specific and task-specific clues that serve as reminders or warnings, for example, these can:

•             Communicate process settings or procedures

•             Help expose hidden parts making equipment easier to inspect

•             Significantly reduce equipment-specific training time by getting the important information ON the equipment where it’s needed

•             Reduce problem solving time

Examples include:

•             Gauge marking and labelling: Analogue gauges monitor, measure and communicate a wide variety of information including temperature, pressure, vacuum and flow. Colour coding allowable ranges in green and red (danger) communicates conditions very rapidly removing guesswork from the process

•             Equipment Lubrication:  Equipment requires lubrication, specifically the right lube, the right quantity and at proper intervals. Pumps, motors, agitators, fans, valves and bearing blocks are often damaged by under, over or incorrect lubrication

•             Pipe and valve identification, contents and flow. Essential for the safe identification of pipe contents and flow in both emergency and maintenance situations

Applied visuals can also go a long way to making the workplace friendlier and employees’ job tasks easier to perform.

Colour coding floor zones

Apart from the Safety Signs and Signals Regulations (1996) there is no legislation in the UK governing the colour coding of separate flooring areas. However, adopting a universal visual indicator throughout your working environment means that workers are at once advised of the area they are in.  For example, corresponding to the safety sign colour coding floor tape can be colour-coded to reflect the working environment. Thus Red would mean: dangerous behaviour; stop; Prohibited area. Yellow would mean caution, risk of danger:  Blue would mean safety gear needed of some form i.e. personal protection in the form of goggles, ear defenders or hardhats etc. and Green floor marking would indicate a safe area, for example First Aid Station, Emergency Exit etc. An ideal solution for floor marking, particularly in areas of heavy traffic is Brady’s ‘Toughstripe’ which, in addition to providing an extra-strong adhesive and durability, is easily lifted and re-laid should circumstances demand a workplace re-configuration.

Brady

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