Geith Safety

At Geith International, our long-term success depends upon ensuring the Safety and Health of our workers, visitors to our operations, and the public.

We believe that a safe and healthy workplace is a fundamental right of every person and also a business imperative. Our Policy requires that we take responsibility for maintaining a productive workplace in every part of our Company. Our aspiration is for an incident free workplace, to reduce our impact on the Environment and produce Quality products for customers; this is evident through the establishment of our Integrated Management System. The Management System conforms to ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001(Environment) and OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety), setting the standard for assessing all relevant risks across the company.

Achieving these ISO standards began in the year 2000 with the development of our Quality Management System through ISO 9001 certification. Accreditation to this system has created a strong focus on customers; identifying their requirements and aiming to enhance their satisfaction. The certification provides for the creation of procedures, records, objectives and policies.
In 2004 the Company received accreditation to ISO 14001 which showed a commitment to minimize any harmful effects caused by our activities on the Global Environment. The accreditation allows us to easily conform to regulatory requirements and continuous improvements are made to manage our environmental performance.

The Company integrated both standards in 2010 along with a Health and Safety Management system through OHSAS 18001, to complete our Integrated Management System. A focus is placed on leading indicators, e.g. consultation, inspections and drills to achieve a more pro-active approach to Occupational Safety and Health. Hazard identification and Risk Management are a key component of the system to reduce injury and ill health and conform to legislation as set out in the 2005 Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act and associated regulations and codes of practice.

TQM Mission Statement “To proudly exceed customer expectations as leaders in innovation in a global attachment market

ISO13031 An Interview with Tony Mc Keown

16 September 2014

Dear Tony, please tell us about who you are?
I joined Geith in 1980 and worked on attachments development for the Construction and Agriculture sectors for over 34 years now. Currently I hold the position of Engineering Manager in a group of committed and dedicated engineers who have over 100 years combined experience in developing attachments for the Construction Industry.

How familiar are you with the upcoming ISO 13031 standard?
When the requirement for a Quick Coupler Standard was recognised and initiated by the HSE, the approach adopted by the Standards Authority was to work in conjunction with a broad spectrum of Industry representatives with the view to developing the best and most appropriate standard possible. Participation from various bodies such as Regional Standards bodies, Construction Industry representative organisations, National Health and Safety Bodies, Construction equipment and Quick Coupler manufacturers, was sought to participate at the Developing Committee level in developing the standard.

Geith was one of the nationally selected manufacturers to contribute at committee level. So since 2009 I have been involved as a member of the Standards Development committee working on the TC-127 (ISO13031).

Why is this new norm being developed?
When we make a purchase of any kind of product, whether from a business perspective or in our private capacity as individuals, as customers we have the right and the expectation that we have purchased a safe working product free from risk to our health and/or damage to our property. This is the simple goal of all standards, and this pending Quick Coupler Standard is no exception to this principle.

In the past there have been many serious injuries and even fatalities in the industry due to attachments becoming detached from certain types of Quick Coupler – predominantly excavator type couplers but also with telehandler and loader couplers. There are such a variety of designs and models available to the industry coupled with varying work practices that make the situation impossible or at best extremely difficult to control and improve the safety record on job sites. When you get the opportunity to discuss these incidents with colleagues around the world you quickly find that all markets where couplers are used are experiencing the same issues. So the HSE in UK decided to take action with the view to eliminating the causes of these accidents and improving the Health and Safety of workers in the Construction industry and the general public alike.

They firstly reached an agreement in 2009 with all coupler manufacturers in the UK to cease supply of the semi-automatic coupler into the UK market. Following from that they initiated the development of a new specific ISO standard for Quick Couplers, which is the pending ISO13031 (currently at public discussion draft stage).

So, ISO 13031 Quick Coupler Standard - Can you demystify it and explain it in simple words what it is?
Sure. - Standards are a measure of quality attainment to particular defined and established performance criteria. In order for a product to be in compliance with a particular ISO Standard they must meet all the requirements laid out in the standard.

Standards are generally the result of a consultation process between concerned and interested parties under the direction of the National Authorities responsible for Standards development who recognise a need to safeguard individuals and property from harm and damage and/or to define a minimum acceptable level of quality for a product.

ISO is the acronym for the “International Standards Organisation” and therefore the standards produced by it are globally based and are on publication a best practice guide for those products covered in that standard and in cases of dispute resolution are used as the minimum level of quality expected in relation to the product they cover. They become law in each country or region only when they are adopted and Harmonised in each of those countries or regions. This process can generally take some time within each region following the publication of the ISO standard.

In relation to the current draft ISO 13031 Standard for Quick Couplers and without quoting the complete text of the draft, the basic requirements outlined in the standard are related to guaranteeing safety of the coupler and attachment connection by having a backup lock feature that prevents disengagement of the attachment in the event of loss or reduction of primary engagement forces (e.g. due to pressure loss or reduction). As such the lock needs to be always in place during engagement status (ruling out gravity operated systems that are repeatedly alternate between locked and unlocked state throughout the working cycle and transportation stages of the excavator.  Further detailing of component definitions, purpose and minimum performance requirements are contained in the standard appropriate to the type of couplers being considered. The Standard will cover manually operated couplers, powered coupler and mixed couplers, for Excavators, Loaders and Telehandlers and extends its area of specification to the control system for the operation of the quick coupler.

In fact Geith exceed the Standard requirement in that we pioneered the first front pin lock system over 14 years ago that prevents attachment release in the event of a missed pick up connection of the attachment (which was one of the main causes of accidents over the years on other coupler types).

Are today Geith couplers compliant ?
Yes indeed, Geith Couplers are compliant with the current published Industry Directives and Standards (EN474-1) and, as far as it goes at this stage of the Standards Development process also with the currently available draft ISO13031 Quick Coupler Standard.

What is Geith doing to keep up with the norm?
We don’t want to simply `keep up’ but also lead the Industry and be ahead of safety and compliancy requirements. We want to enhance our products to the greatest benefit of our customers. But taking this approach has to bring real added value to the customer while maintaining value for money and minimise running costs. There is a current trend out there where all kinds of bells and whistles are being pushed at customers as must have additions, under the guise of major safety enhancements and product improvements. In reality they offer little added value while complicating systems, increasing user cost and increasing maintenance costs. Geith will continue to lead the development of real value solutions for our customer needs into the future. We see no future in being a “me too” copycat player in the Construction Attachments Sector.

What else have you developed?
To enhance the Quick Coupler offering and continue to add value, we have just launched a new Quick Coupler control system that is a major improvement over previous control systems. More modern attractive design, increased durability, build quality, reduced size, additional safety feature for difficult to curl type of attachments or in tight or difficult work space situations. This really enhances the user experience by simplifying his operational process in certain situations. All with an improvement wiring harness and presentation kit. (And it is compliant with current and draft standards for Quick Coupler operation).

When do you think the new Standard will be released officially?
The next round of ISO13031 development discussions will take place in Mid June. Following from that there may be a further draft circulated for discussion and ratification. At this stage it is difficult to be certain but end of 2014 or beyond is a likely schedule.

Will there be a “grace period” for compliancy, or the day it is launched it will be imposed to all manufacturers?
On publication of the Standard it has a status of best practice guidelines until ratified/Harmonised in individual member states. This can take 12 months or longer take place so there is already an inbuilt period before compliance becomes mandatory. The reality is however that market concerns and forces have already acted to drive the implementation of the improved generation couplers into the markets and in most cases the manufacturers and users are ahead of the game in this regard at least in Europe. In NA and the lesser developed regions they are slower to react and adopt, but it will happen over the next 12 to 24 months.

Why is this norm important to you?
The standard strengthens the relationship between Geith and our customers. Customers know they can continue to depend and rely on Geith to look to their interests and success. Working to a Standard tends to remove sub-standard producers from the market thereby strengthening the relationships. It helps improves the user experience of our products as users can have confidence that they have invested in the best product they can buy.

Thank you for your time!  We hope it is now clearer to our viewers.