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GRS Building Products has won a prestigious industry safety award for an engineering innovation that reduces risk and is transferrable to all bulk bagging plants.
The company beat stiff competition to win the MPA Special Award for Engineering for its safe bulk bag splitting system at the Mineral Products Association's annual health and safety awards, held in London in November. The team at GRS devised way to split bulk aggregate bags and re-bag the material in a single safe manoeuvre.
Regional Operations Manager Daran Murray said: "There are times when we have to cut open bulk bags for a number of reasons. This has historically been done by somebody using a craft knife, leaning below the hanging 800kg bag and drawing the knife towards them.
"At one point, we had an incident where the guy managed to injure himself, so as a team we sat down to see how it could be done safer - and we came up with the bulk bag splitter. This is an automatic system that splits the bag. We have an individual that hangs the bag onto the bag hanger. When he retreats to a safe area, this indicates to the forklift driver that it's safe to approach the bag splitter.
"The forklift then lowers the full bag onto a fixed blade system. At that point, it will discharge the material into the fresh bag below, which is where we require it. This system has taken away lots of hazards - interaction with mobile plant, use of sharp objects and the risk of entrapment.
"It also has the advantage of turning a three-person job down to a two-person job. We have more than 20 bagging operations around the country and one of these will be installed at every site. It could also be replicated by other bagged aggregates suppliers."
The MPA Health & Safety Awards, now in their 47th year, exemplify the industry's drive to share good practice and celebrate innovation and creativity in safety improvement. This year there were 140 of entries from 27 companies of all sizes from across the UK.