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Manual handling injuries reduced by 42%

07 October 2010

By investing in SmartMover electric tugs for moving roll cages from delivery vehicles to convenience stores, Appleby Westward Group has reduced manual handling injuries to its delivery drivers by 42% within six months.

Manual handling injuries reduced by 42%
Manual handling injuries reduced by 42%

Appleby Westward Group is the wholesaler for SPAR in the South and South West of England. The Group has two main distribution centres, one in Saltash in Cornwall, the other in Cullompton in Devon.

Dave Taylor, Health & Safety Manager at the Saltash distribution centre, comments: "Since 2007, when I first took up the Health & Safety Manager’s role here, manual handling injuries have been on the increase. This has led to corresponding increases in litigation claims. Part of my responsibility is to minimise these types of claims by ensuring that staff are working to the appropriate safety procedures and are provided with the correct equipment to reduce manual handling injuries."

According to Taylor, three recent personal injury claims against the Group stemmed from delivery drivers who were involved in roll cage accidents, whilst delivering goods to convenience stores. "Our drivers have to move roll cages from their delivery vehicle to the convenience store on their own often across difficult terrain such as steep inclines or rough, uneven ground. Of the 312 stores we deliver to, only two have proper loading bays. This meant that manual handling injuries were commonplace," said Taylor.

After seeing a demonstration of MasterMover’s SmartMover SM60 electric-operated tug at a SPAR Group safety meeting in 2009, Taylor contacted MasterMover to order some SM60s for the Saltash distribution centre.

The SM60 is a versatile machine designed for moving wheeled loads such as roll cages from vehicle tail lifts and across uneven surfaces and slopes and can turn through 90 degrees. By clamping to the base of the roll cage, the tug ensures that the cage cannot be tipped onto the operator. This reduces serious injury to employees and makes unloading a single-person procedure. Efficiency and safety are further improved by allowing the movement of multiple roll cages using the towing links. Sealed batteries, variable speed and auto braking are also standard.

Where the load is relatively light and where manoeuvrability, safety and control are critical, the SM60 ensures the timely delivery of components to a supermarket warehouse or convenience store and can eliminate the need for time-consuming, manual handling. The SM60 connects to the base of the roll cage via an innovative clamping mechanism, which is operated by using a simple lever located on the neck of the device. Once connected, the machine is secured to the load and the operator can use the ‘forward’ and ‘reverse’ controls.

The machine is also easy-to-use. A simple throttle paddle on the headset enables the user to constantly vary the speed according to the conditions. There is also a twin speed button that enables the operator to place a limit on the speed, which is useful for busy retail environments. Amongst other built-in safety features is an anti-crush button that ensures that the user cannot become trapped between the machine and an immoveable object. The device has an electro-magnetic brake, which is constantly engaged until the operator applies power via the throttle. The unit can be steered on either side, enabling easy turning in tight spaces. When off load, the device travels on the support wheels for maximum operator comfort.

"In March 2010, we purchased the SM60s for our delivery drivers. Since using the tugs, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of roll cage-related handling injuries to delivery drivers of 42%," enthuses Taylor. "As a business, this reduction directly affects the number of personal injury claims that we receive and so the SM60s have paid for themselves already. In the near future, we hope to equip our entire vehicle fleet with the SmartMover."

All 40 of our delivery drivers at Saltash are now trained to use the SM60. As Taylor states: "Myself and one of our team leaders were the first to be trained by MasterMover in how to use the SM60. Now all of our drivers are fully trained, as it only takes us around half an hour to teach a person to use one. Our drivers love the SmartMover so much that they often argue with one another over who gets one on their lorry that day."

The SmartMover SM60s are charged overnight ready for loading onto delivery vehicles the next morning. The unit is also compact enough to fit easily onto each lorry.

One of the SM60s is used for delivery runs to a SPAR store based on the Isle of Wight. The driver has to move roll cages across a steep incline to reach the store. This was causing a lot of stress to the driver and increased the risk of accident or injury. "After using the SM60, the driver’s morale and motivation have improved significantly," said Taylor.

In another regular delivery run to a store based in Bognor Regis, Taylor says that the driver had to negotiate more than 100 yards of difficult terrain from the delivery vehicle to the store. Now, by using the SM60, the driver is able to couple together up to six roll cages at a time and safely move these to the store, improving productivity significantly.

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