As an integral part of the manufacturing supply chain, the packaging sector holds a key stake in health and safety across the UK’s industrial workforce. As well as representing a specialist industry which employs 85,000 people in its own right, packaging machinery in various shapes and forms is used across the majority of factories and production facilities.
The safe use of such machinery is therefore a key factor in reducing work-related accidents in manufacturing. Packaging equipment accounts for a significant proportion of workplace injuries – in food and drink production, for example, around a third of all accidents happen around packaging conveyors.
All industrial machinery poses safety risks which must be managed appropriately in order to minimise danger. Companies are required by law to draw up and implement policies for safe use and can be held legally accountable for injuries if breaches can be proven. However, day in day out, policies and training can only go so far in protecting workers. On busy shop floors operating a variety of high powered equipment, effective communication is often the critical factor in avoiding accidents and minimising harm.
That is where two way radio comes in.
Trust in Two Way Radio
Two way radio has a long history of use in industry. Robust and reliable, it provided a convenient form of wireless communication to help coordinate teams on the move decades before mobile phones were invented. And while we all carry a mobile in our pocket these days, employers continue to choose two way radio for the workplace because they can trust it to work when it is needed most.
Unlike mobile phones, two way radios don’t rely on an external network of masts to operate. Each handset contains its own transmission and reception equipment, meaning you can create a two way network wherever users are. In the middle of a crowded production facility surrounded by machinery, the chances of getting a 100% reliable cellular connection for your mobile are slim. Two way radio has no such issues, so you can always trust being able to get a message across when you really need it.
Modern digital two way radios also boast a range of advanced audio features which mean messages come through loud and clear, no matter how much background noise there is. Noise filtering clears interference and intelligent gain control automatically adjusts volume depending on environmental noise.
The latest models also include tracking capabilities such as GPS or Bluetooth (which can be used for tracking using so-called beacons technology). That means that as well as being able to communicate to a large workforce spread over a sizeable facility in real time, supervisors can also identify worker locations, helping to target information and risk warnings to where they are most relevant.
As well as making a considerable contribution to accident prevention, two way radio is also a very useful tool when it comes to accident response. Most handsets nowadays include a number of standard safety features such as Emergency Override, which allows users to bump all other communications off the airways when a critical alert needs to be raised, and also Emergency Button, which will signal an alarm with a single press.
Other common safety features include a fall monitoring function known as Man Down, which can detect unusual movements (including when someone carrying a handset is not moving at all) and issues an alarm automatically. Another is Lone Worker remote monitoring, which requires operatives to check back in with the network at fixed intervals. If they do not, an alert is again sounded.