With this in mind, it’s extremely important that we consider the safety of our workers, and the environmental impact on the community around us. Here, we outline the top safety considerations we take into account when carrying out manufacturing and casting activities.
Our employees who are involved in the melting and casting activity regularly have to deal with potentially hazardous activities and substances. As a responsible employer, we effectively manage these hazards to reduce the associated risks to as low a level as possible and in doing so, keep our workforce as safe as possible.
- Being a pro-active employer, we engage with our work force to encourage grass roots initiatives that improve our safety culture.
- We provide ongoing training to all team members, in addition to ensuring that at all times they are supplied with adequate and appropriate resources, information and supervision.
- We value our workforce, as we cannot make castings without them. As such, we provide them with a platform where we can effectively consult and communicate. This ensures that we can be ahead of the game should any issues arise, from the comfort of PPE to welfare arrangements.
- Health and safety audits – whether it is an adhoc workplace inspection, a scheduled inspection or an external audit, we constantly strive to keep our manufacturing floors as safe as we can. On any feedback we receive, we proactively work towards improving upon any recommendations or ideas received.
- The provision of Specialist PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and where necessary, ongoing tests and reviews of its suitability.
- Regular maintenance and servicing of all of our machinery and tools, in addition to our statutory testing and inspection regimes as undertaken by competent external contractors.
Whilst these aspects are specific to the tasks at hand, we also ensure that we have thorough and robust systems of work in place. These also ensure that we meet the demanding criteria set out within our quality systems, as we are fully accredited to BS ISO 9001:2015.
Should anything change, as a team, we address these systems to ensure that we all understand, and work together to ensure the safest workplace possible.
Pouring the Hot Metal
When molten metal is transferred from furnace or ladle, clearly it can be very hot. Temperatures will be in the region of 800°C. During this activity our foundry teams must display the utmost care. We ensure that they have received the necessary training and guidance to achieve this, and at all times we make sure they are suitably protected with modern molten metal splash wear clothing.
The environment that our teams cast in is well ventilated to prevent the build-up of any fumes, additionally aided by local exhaust ventilation. The areas are also off-limits to unprotected personnel during any casting process.
One of the biggest safety hazards in any foundry is the presence of moisture. If there is moisture in the furnace melting crucible, the pouring ladle or the sand mould itself, this can cause highly energetic reactions as the moisture instantly turns to steam due to the heat of the metal.
Therefore, we work hard to ensure that all of these areas are free from moisture. To do this, we first ensure that our sand is stored in a highly dry area, metal ingots are warmed by the furnace prior to being added to the melting crucible, and any tools used are equally dry.
These steps are just a few of our control measures to help minimise the risk of moisture, which in turn keeps our working environment as safe as we can.
Machinery and Tools
We continuously inspect our machinery and tools as part of our preventative maintenance programme. This makes sure that our machinery is running as it should, at optimum and above all, safe levels.
Foundry work, is, by its very nature, a labour intensive process. All of our staff receive comprehensive manual handling training to ensure they carry out their day-to-day tasks as safely as possible. After all, it can be a very demanding job.
Manufacturing processes have evolved in the modern age of course, and this enables us to manufacture larger and larger castings. So large in fact, that they cannot be lifted by man alone.
We have dozens of overhead gantry cranes on site to aid in these processes, and an ongoing training programme to have as many multi skilled operators as possible. Without sufficient training and passing our exam, we do not allow operators to use these cranes.
It’s just another way we keep our foundry as safe as we can.
The Local Environment
We’ve been working in compliance with stringent environmental regulations since 1992, and don’t have any intentions of stopping. Working closely with our local authority and within the operating parameters of our environmental permit, we take our environmental impact seriously.
The production of castings within a sand foundry can create emissions, so it’s important that we manage these responsibly to minimise any impact on our local area. The reason for this is to ensure we do not upset the ecosystem of our surroundings, or upset our neighbours.
On a daily basis, we conduct a visual assessment and recording of stack emission to atmosphere, and inspect our filtration plant, pressure relief valves and high-level alarms, to minimise any impact on the environment in the event of a plant failure.
The other thing we take seriously is wastage: our thermal sand reclamation process means that we are able to recover up to 80% of the sand used in our casting processes, which equates to 6,000 tonnes of sand per year. We also recycle our aluminium off-cuts, and minimise the material waste in our office.
On top of this, making our manufacturing process as lean as possible, we segregate our waste streams to minimise the amount of waste that historically may have gone straight to landfill. From baling our cardboard to separating plastics and metals we have diverted tons of waste from landfill. All of which is responsibly recycled.
These are just a few of the steps in our metal casting process to ensure the safety of our employees and community. As a responsible employer and business we are aware that we can always do more, and continuously look into other ways we can do so.