Global Health, Safety and Environmental Awards

Health & Safety Awards Winner #2:
Traffic Light Concept, Australia

One of the winners in the first Global Health & Safety Awards across Aliaxis, was the Traffic Light Concept. The team at the distribution centre in Perth, Australia came up with the idea after they realised that some of the products that need to be moved around, weigh almost as much as one of their team members.  

This is true for Angevine de la Llana, affectionately known as ‘Angie. “I simply could not allow Angie to lift all the items single-handed. It is not safe”, says John Rowley, Distribution Supervisor.  

Colours as visual triggers 

With this in mind, the distribution team got together to discuss the problem and out of this brainstorm the Traffic Light Concept was born. The idea is to categorise items into 3 risk categories; Red, Yellow and Green, similar to a traffic light.  

Green items are light items, weighing maximum 5 kilograms, with little or no lifting restrictions.  

Yellow items weigh up to15 kilograms. The first question team members must ask themselves, is the Angie test: “Can I lift this by myself or do I need help from a colleague or lifting equipment?” These items are placed in tubs that cannot be reached easily in order to force team members to think when handling them. 

Red items are heavy and high-risk items. The team members need to assess hazards and risks involved and think about how you can avoid them: by using the right lifting equipment and seeking assistance from team members. 

The colours are visual triggers, designed to help change team behaviour by reminding them of the risk involved in performing a task”, said Murali Ramalingam, Operations and HSE Manager. 

Simplicity is key 

To determine which item fell into each category, the team decided on the simple question “Can Angie Do This?”. Murali explains: “That simple question is now the criterion for each process that we create. Simplicity is key!” 

Coloured signs and racks 

The team decided to pilot the concept with heavy ductile iron fittings, which present one of the highest risks for manual handling. Every item in this zone was assigned a risk profile according to its shape and weight using the colours red, yellow or green. A racking location was then selected based on ergonomic principles, and the racking painted in the same colour. Each colour has its own rules about handling the items safely. In-house signage and stickers were also used to label each item. This serves as a reminder to team members performing the lifting task, of the risks involved.  

Team effort 

“The team has been really supportive throughout this process. From its inception, we created, implemented and further tweaked the process together. For it to become habitual behaviour, we provided the team with formal training, followed up with regular reminders and toolbox talks. After 3 months it had become the norm. It was a total team effort. I could not be prouder of my team”, Murali says.

The first winner of the first ever global Health, Safety and Environmental Awards was the Wellness Programme in San Jose (Costa Rica). The third place was for Aliaxis Huntingdon with their Workplace Transport Initiative.