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Capral Aluminium - Involving workers to develop solutions for hazardous manual tasks

In Queensland, over 60% of serious workers compensation claims are related to sprains and strain injuries, two thirds of which are caused by hazardous manual tasks. Learn how Capral Aluminium have helped reduce their risks of manual handling injuries and take the steps to become the most automated and modern plant in Australia.

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ONSCREEN TEXT: Capral Aluminium - Involving workers to develop solutions for hazardous manual tasks.

SVEN:Capral is Australia's largest aluminium extruder.  We've got five manufacturing sites, six distribution centres, all around Australia. Bremer Park where we are today is the most automated and modern plant in Australia. It's probably been in place now 8 years, but still, even though there's a lot of automation there's still a lot of manual handling so we have to focus on how to minimize risk and how to minimize manual handling tasks.

SUZANNE: The worker is the expert so they've got the ideas and we know the benefits from having the workers come up with the solutions is that they have a lot more engagement with the control.

NATHAN: You've really got to empower your employees to take ownership with doing their risk assessments and looking at what the hazards are in their work area. They're the ones that know best in what they do and how often they do it.

SVEN If you look at the history of injuries in the plant, manual handling would be 80% of the injuries. Back strains, repetitive strains, all those type of things, so reducing the injuries and reducing the risk has been a high priority.

NATHAN: We all know that safety is an expensive business, there's the workers comp cost that are in the hundreds thousands of dollars and not only that there is the cost of replacing that worker.

SUZANNE: At the moment in Queensland over 60% of serious workers comp claims are actually related to sprains and strains injuries.

ONSCREEN TEXT: Involving your workers in identifying risks

NATHAN: How many times do I wrap plastic around the end of a pack, how many times would I reach over and pick up some metal and pull it out of a skip and place it somewhere else? Once they started to understand, number of times they were doing those, they started to realize that "hey there's some risks involved here"

SVEN:And that has made an enormous amount of difference to involve them, to give them the opportunity to have the solutions and the answers and also to get the ownership for them so that they are the ones that drive the improvements and own the improvements

NATHAN: Put it to your workers give them the opportunity to voice what they could see is a better improvement.

SVEN:You go and identify the risks onsite, you go and score them – are they high risk, are they low risk, are they repetitive issues, they're minor but they can cause a very serious injury, and then work together with each work area to find solutions.

ONSCREEN TEXT: Assessing the work Practice

LINDSAY: When I first started here, we had the worst safety record in the department, in the die shop.  Fingers were getting squashed, we were sending guys off to the hospital regularly.

NATHAN: The die handling issue has been an issue that they've been trying to work a solution for for some time, and, until we got to understand more about how often those staff were handling those dies and lifting them particularly, and those dies weigh anywhere up to 15, 18 kilos, so in itself when you look at that it's a serious safety issue.

LINDSAY: We actually made a video of it. And after making the video, we thought "gosh you know we never actually saw this" because you can be right there and you can't see it happening. And then we worked out all the twists and pulls and lifts and carrys and pushes and pulls and, over a year, it's like a million.

NATHAN: If you can just empower your people to come up with some solutions, you'll be very surprised at some of the gains that you can make.

ONSCREEN TEXT: Developing control measures

LINDSAY: The team came up with control ideas. What we thought of, it was all very well just putting the rack down on the hydraulic table that goes up and down, but you don't want the guy to have to walk around it and stretch, cause then we're looking at stretching and exerting ourselves and hurting ourselves, so we thought, you sit at your dining room table and you spin the table, you get your tomato sauce and everything else, so we said stick a lazy suzie on". It's easy cause you just lift the table to whatever height you need to, roll it off, and then go to the next height.

The other changes we've done are electric lift trolleys, cause what we would do is we'd carry our die plate, which weighs between lets say 10 and maybe 20 kgs.  We'd carry it physically out to the machine shop side of the die shop, and, then we find with these electrical trolleys, lifts, and you just put it on and push the up button and it goes up, push the down button it goes down, and it works so much safer, and it works really well.

NATHAN: Everyone culturally has started to take more ownership for safety working at Capral. That is a real achievement to see within a company, because that just shows the true leadership and culture of the company.

NATHAN MITCHELL: We have a meeting everyday at the start of the shift and we just bring up any concerns or any improvements and the guys get a chance to speak up and put their input into it.

SIMON: We got together and all brainstormed and come up with it, and it was good, rather than being told what to do we came up with our own ideas and own solution.

GARY: All of the people here are highly motivated and they are motivated because they can make a difference on the shop floor.

SVEN:Safety is part of the larger picture, the wider strategy for business, to reduce your claims means you become more efficient, your housekeeping is better, your cost is lower because your claims cost is lower.

SUZANNE: Capral look at safety as a fact it's part of their business, it's part of how they're just running their organization and doing business, so the fact that they're not seeing it as a separate exercise or an add-on is critical, and I think that's what's the really special difference here.

LINDSAY: Hey if you can find anything that can take away your manual handling, your bending, lifting, strains, that's the way to go.

ONSCREEN TEXT: Work safe. Home Safe.

CREDIT SCREEN: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland thank the following people and organisations for their participation in this film.

Sven Gade
Nathan Jefferson
Lindsay Bossy
Nathan Mitchell
Simon Jukkola
Gary Kennedy
Capral Aluminium

RUNTIME: 6 mins 28s