Prescribe Australia and UGL Unipart, Auburn are celebrating winning the SafeWork NSW 2021 Safety Award for work they have been doing to improve safety for maintenance crews working underneath XPT interstate passenger trains.
Business manager Haydn Tawse said Prescribe Australia works with companies across Australia to help them understand their unique needs when it comes to manual handling.
Mr Tawse said the Wollongong business has had an ongoing relationship with UGL Unipart to help it identify, assess and control their manual task risks.
"We have been working with UGL Unipart now for a couple of years and have been working on a number of tasks at their Auburn maintenance site," he said.
"As a part of this relationship the team at XPT raised a priority task for the XPT Coupler Follower.
"Our role was to do the original assessment of the task and then assist from a subject matter expert point of view with the design and final implementation of the solution."
UGL Unipart's operations manager for heavy maintenance Chris Poole said that solution was related to a long term job that involved two people working beneath the train in the maintenance yard and lifting a 38 kilogram component into a pocket position.
Mr Poole said working on the Coupler Follower, a moving internal part that allows train cars to couple together, was quite an awkward job that involved them lifting the component into place above their shoulders.
"The solution was to introduce something that would eliminate all the risks," he said.
Mr Poole said what UGL Unipart and Prescribe Australia came up with is working really well.
"This comes from a collaboration building on the ideas of the workforce to deliver something that eliminates the manual handling risks," he said.
That collaboration started when UGL Unipart began searching for a better and safer way to do the work. It started when a concern was raised by a member of the maintenance team and the operations manager got them all together to discuss a possible solution.
The task had been done for many years by two people lifting to reduce injury risk. Their fear was possible muscular skeletal injuries from the task or possible injury if they dropped the 38kg Coupler Follower while they were lifting it into place.
"The teams solution is basically a car jack mounted on a trolley that slides along the rails under the train and then we lift and lower the coupler follower into position using the trolley and attached jack," Mr Poole said.
"So there is no manual handling anymore and it self-aligns. We then push it into position and put a nut on the back of it."
Mr Poole said after consultations and discussions with Prescribe the two companies workforce team came up with some prototypes, finding one that was acceptable by the XPT maintenance team.
"It is now used every time we do the coupler follow install," he said.
"Everyone is happy with it and the guys are proud of what they have achieved.
Mr Poole said UGL Unipart had never had a serious injury but the risk was there and their goal was to eliminate that.
"As workforce safety underlines everything we do," he said.
"And when anyone raises a concern we take it seriously. The guys on the floor from their suggestion saw something come to life and they are really proud of what they achieved.
"And we are proud of the team for coming up with an awesome fix to a long standing issue."
Mr Tawse said it was not the first time the Wollongong business that works with clients all over Australia has won recognition.
In 2018 it was a finalist in the SafeWork NSW Safety Awards and in 2019 it was a joint winner of the safety category at the Australasian Railway Association Industry Awards for the work it did with its partners Aurizon and JPC Engineering for the design of a practical knuckle lifting device.
Mr Tawse said eliminating manual handling hazards was for clients all over Australia and was Prescribe Australia's core business.
He said the Wollongong business was already well regarded for that but it was nice for everyone involved in the business to win state and national recognition at safety industry awards.
Mr Tawse said Prescribe Australia has continued to expand the business during COVID-19.
"We have started Exercise Physiology clinics in Wollongong and Warrawong to expand our service offerings. We remain focused on helping businesses and the community stay healthy, safe and injury free," he said.
Mr Tawse said the biggest challenge for the business during lockdowns and border closures was working more remotely with its clients.
"We have become a bit more inventive in terms of mobile learning and using new technology to try and expand our reach when we can't physically be onsite," he said.
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