Eliminating the dangers

With a major emphasis on safety and a new initiative aimed at improving reducing risks for employees, Stabilime Distributors has won a top industry award for the second year running.In 2015, Australian pavement stabilisation specialists Stabilime took home the prestigious Work Health and Safety Award at the annual AustStab Awards of Excellence.

The company was recognised for its active blind spot detection initiative, which saw it install reverse cameras and pulsed radar object detection sensors on all its mobile plant equipment, including mixers, stabilisers, spreaders, graders, water trucks, pad foot rollers, smooth drum rollers and even the supervisor’s ute.

Stabilime’s work culture is built around safety, and continual development of safety procedures and gap analyses for the betterment of its staff and the industry as a whole have been at its core for the past 40 years.

This dedication to improving its safety processes was once again recognised by AustStab with the firm receiving the Work Health and Safety Award for the second year running.

This past July, Stabilime received the award for its initiative to install automated pneumatic loading hatches on its tankers and trailers at the 2016 AustStab Awards of Excellence.

This safety push was born from Stabilime’s Integrated Management System (IMS). The purpose of the IMS as a risk management process is to manage all aspects of quality, occupational health and safety and environmental controls for the Stabil-Lime Group of companies, of which Stabilime is a part.

“The initiative probably started when it became a requirement for us to start putting rails on the top of all tanks, and that got us thinking about what else we can do to make it safer,” says Heath Curnow, the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Their operators were typically forced to manually open a hatch on top of the vehicle by climbing to heights via a ladder, so product could be loaded.

The company undertook a gap analysis of this process, and found that the associated risks could be eliminated from Stabilime’s operations, therefore increasing the safety of its onsite personnel.

“We regularly review what we’re doing in this space to make sure it’s safe and the processes are efficient,” says Mr. Curnow.

Adding automated pneumatic loading hatches to its fleet was a simple concept, one with added benefits across safety and project productivity.

The process eliminates the need for personnel to climb out of the cab during product loading thanks to a switch located in the cabin. Mr. Curnow says it has also alleviated a lot of pressure on its workforce.

“A major benefit of the hatches is for our ageing workforce – a lot of the older guys don’t want to climb up to open the compartment,” he says. “It was really driven by them and it basically originated from one of their ideas.”

The company engaged with a few specialists in developing the hatches themselves, but Mr. Curnow says the end product was predominantly created in-house, which has been a recurring theme for the well-established stabilisation firm.

“When we started the business the best the machinery that was available had a lot of room for improvement in design, so we’ve always made improvements on quality and safety on our own gear for 40 years,” he says. “For many years we’ve designed and built our own spreaders. There are now some good ones on the market but we still do our own.”

The company began installing the hatches on its fleet just over six months ago, with the majority of its tanks now fitted with the device.

Mr. Curnow says the company is aiming to have its entire fleet fitted with the hatches going forward.

Stabilime found that the automated hatches resulted in faster turnaround and pumping times, quicker cleaning of the manhole and low maintenance costs.

The “air knife” function of the hatch ensures that the manhole lip is cleaned on sealing, meaning low wear on the seal and improving its sealing reliability.

Most of all, the hatches have helped eliminate the height and manual handling risks associated with loading product.

Mr. Curnow says Stabilime doesn’t take its approaches to safety lightly, and ensures that it takes into account both quality and efficiency in the process.

“You can’t produce a good quality product or service by shortcutting safety – quality, efficiency and safety are all interconnected,” he says.

“Our hope is that customers take some of these things into consideration. That’s part of what we’re building our reputation on.”

As an AustStab member company, Mr. Curnow says the more the industry can recognised quality work and achievements in stabilisation, the more this sector will advance.

“Stabilisation can often be overlooked. People pick up on efficiency, safety and quality. If we focus on those aspects, we can then educate people that are managing those assets on the opportunities stabilisation presents,” he says.

“The more we can produce top quality work and advertise that as an industry, the more stabilisation will grow.”

Interesting? Share this article