The importance of operator training for site safety

The importance of operator training for site safety

The last 12 months have certainly been a challenge for companies of all shapes and sizes, in a variety of ways. And, now that the world has begun to ‘open up again’, as thoughts turn to getting back to ‘business as usual’, safety of work sites – and those employed there – must also be a priority.

Jonathan Oldfield, MD of Riverside Waste Machinery, recently appeared in Tomorrow’s Health & Safety magazine, urging firms to remember the importance of training staff correctly in the use of waste machinery, as businesses across the UK burst back to life once again. If you missed the article, catch it in full here…

“It’s fair to say, that while the UK suffered extended periods of lockdown during the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic, operator training may have been far from the minds of both those who own – and manage – waste machinery. However, due to the halt in usual practice for many organisations, training – and in particular, refresher sessions – should now be a key consideration, especially if they have previously been overlooked.

And, there are a number of reasons why this is so essential. Serious injury – and even death – can be caused due to improper use, so first and foremost, health and safety is a major factor. Nothing is more crucial than duty of care to employees.

When equipment is first purchased, any member of staff who will be working with it should be taught how to use the machinery safely. But it doesn’t end there. For example, long-serving personnel – or those that have been furloughed due to the pandemic – may quite simply forget any stringent rules they have been taught.

In this case, where an individual becomes more relaxed around the health and safety rules, there is also the danger of them passing on such bad habits to newer members of the team – who may arguably look to more entrenched colleagues and ‘do as they do’, not realising their actions are unsafe.

Machine misuse should be another major consideration for employers, as this could lead to compromises on quality, and customer dissatisfaction, or complete machine failure – resulting in operational downtime or even complete site closure. Either way, a loss of revenue is inevitable for the business, which should be avoided.

New recruits should automatically be shown how to correctly use the machinery, but it is also vital that regular – ideally annual – sessions are carried out, to ensure all staff remain up to date on the correct processes to follow.

Such recap sessions help to make sure people aren’t cutting corners – or overlooking some simple operational protocol.

Recognising the need for regular training sessions for those handling waste equipment, Riverside Waste Machinery launched its own training programme back in 2016, to boost skill-sets and safety within the recycling industry. And many other companies also do the same.

Riverside’s intensive sessions – which last approximately one hour, and cover everything from the dos and don’ts of waste baling, to sequence error troubleshooting, and basic maintenance – are designed to equip operators with the knowledge they require to effectively run any of the machines they handle.

And, in addition to tackling health and safety and potential issues regarding downtime, proper training of personnel allows individuals to get the most out of the technologies they are working with – helping contribute to improving both job satisfaction and productivity for the firm.

Anyone with a workforce that is now back to full capacity – or is gearing up to return to this – should ensure that they are fully prepared, with the right operator training in place, to avoid any of the above issues from making an appearance.