Is your workplace safety up to standard?

‘Safety starts with you’ – NSW’s workplace safety challenge

One of the factors that binds all industries in Australia together is workplace safety. It doesn't matter if your business operates in the mining sector or the structural engineering industry, it's vital for businesses to protect their most important assets – employees.

'Safety starts with you'

Workplace safety should always be a hot topic for employers.Workplace safety should always be a hot topic for employers.

With this in mind, NSW has launched 'Safety starts with you', a campaign that aims to make the state the safest across the nation.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy explained that there has been a 39 per cent drop in serious injuries and illnesses since 2005, but improvements can still be made.

"The current figures are still unacceptably high. Anyone with a job in this state has the right to a safe and healthy workplace, and whether you are an employer or a worker, and regardless of your industry, occupation or background, workplace safety is everyone's responsibility," he said.

Although this campaign is focused on NSW, lowering the number of workplace fatalities and injuries is a priority across all states and territories. This is especially true given April 28 marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work, and Workers' Memorial Day.

"The current figures are still unacceptably high."

So, if your business wants to improve safety outcomes on site, what are the various ways this can be achieved? Here's three examples from the Locker Group range.

1) Gridwalk

Steps and trips are among the most common injuries, so it makes sense to address what your employees are walking on. Gridwalk is expanded metal flooring that can be used in both quarry and mining applications. Its benefits include a reliable underfoot grip and robust strength – perfect for areas with high foot traffic.

Gridwalk can also be customised to fit your workplace, attached with removable clips or welded to the structure itself.

2) Handrails

If the handrails on your premises are starting to look a little tired, it might be time to learn more about our options. Ideal for both commercial and industrial applications, our handrails can be used in car parks, stairways and even fire escapes.

Our handrails are strong, cost-effective and easy to install – everything you need when it comes to workplace safety.

3) Safe-T-Perf

With its anti-slip properties and tough design, Safe-T-Perf is a good option in industrial environments. The 360 degree skid resistant surface is easy to install and offers fantastic load bearing characteristics in more heavy-duty applications.

If you would like to learn more about the different ways you can improve the safety of your workplace, feel free to get in touch with the team at Locker Group today – we look forward to hearing from you.

How do Locker Group's conveyor belts help the food industry?

How Locker Group is helping support Australian food production

We've previously looked at the role conveyor belts play in food production, but we thought it was worth taking a closer look at this industry and Locker Group's involvement supplying metal conveyor belts and assistance. The Australian government has identified food production and agribusiness as an area of competitive strength for the country, and Locker Group is proud to be a part of it.

The food industry's rise to prominence

In terms of the conveyor belt market, the food industry makes up a large part of our customer base. Previously the automotive industry was a big consumer of conveyor belts as part of its manufacturing process, particularly for heat treatment. Michael Willmott, Locker Group's National Product Manager, says that the automotive industry has been decimated in Australia, but this has led to food producers stepping in as the main consumer of conveyor belts.

"We still support the other parts of the industry and there's still sales in that part, but it's certainly nowhere near as large as the food industry," he says.

Locker Group has been making metal conveyor belts for decades, and has cemented its position as a go-to provider in the industry.

According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS), employment figures in the automotive industry dropped by more than 6,000 in the period between 2012 and 2015. Ford, Holden and Toyota will all have ceased manufacturing in Australia by the end of 2017.

Food processing, by contrast, made up almost a third of Australia's manufacturing industry in 2015, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC). Statistics from the DIIS say that in 2015 there were 206,700 Australians employed in food product manufacturing, compared with just 40,642 in automotive manufacturing, and there were more than 14,000 actively trading businesses in the food manufacturing sector.

Locker Group's conveyor belt production

Locker Group has been making metal conveyor belts for decades, and has cemented its position as a go-to provider in the industry. We've built this reputation through several factors: Firstly, Locker's large geographic footprint means that we can supply products to businesses across the country. It also means we can provide a level of customer service – including face to face assistance – that smaller suppliers can't.

In addition to the wide range of products that we manufacture in-house, Locker is also an agent for several major overseas manufacturers, so we can help when customers need specific products that are not made here in Australia.

Locker has a long history of serving the food production industry.Locker has a long history of serving the food production industry.

Our long-standing relationship with the food industry

A significant reason we've been able to build this customer base is that we've been making quality conveyor belts for a long time. Quite simply it's been a case of doing the same thing, and doing it well.

Metal conveyor belts are by their nature labour-intensive products to make, but Michael points out that Locker has been able to automate the process to a certain extent. Most of the conveyor belts Locker sells are made specifically to order. Michael says this is due to the huge variety of different configurations a customer could possibly need.

"We don't keep belts in stock because there's such a variety of materials, dimensions and other factors within the Australian market," he says. "So typically everything that we do is manufactured to order."

Most of Locker Group's conveyor belts are made to order so they fit the customer's exact specifications.Most of Locker Group's conveyor belts are made to order so they fit the customer's exact specifications.

Who are the customers that come to Locker Group for support?

The businesses that come to Locker for conveyor belts generally fall into three categories. Our primary market is repeat customers that are already using Locker's conveyor belts, and either need replacement parts or want to upgrade or expand their set-up. 

"The majority of our sales is repeat business," Michael says. "We're supplying within the industry, and we've been within that industry for a long time. Because of this long history we've managed to build up ongoing relationships with many local food manufacturers."

Because of our long history Locker has ongoing relationships with many local food manufacturers.

The next group we supply to is businesses with installed conveyor belts from other providers. In this case we would look at and advise on what's needed, and either provide our own products or, if necessary, import the required parts from our overseas suppliers.

Thirdly, we supply conveyor belts for brand new applications. "We're probably dealing with original equipment manufacturers who are designing a conveyor," Michael says, "So, once again we'd assist them with what is correct for that application."

If you're already a customer then you know you can rely on Locker Group for quality conveyor belts and attentive, expert service. For businesses who need support for their existing food production machinery, or who are in the process of setting up a new facility, Locker Group can offer a varied range of conveyor belts and parts to suit all applications. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help.

How can architects help improve Australian housing affordability?

How can Locker Group contribute to affordable housing?

The price of living and owning property in Australia's urban centres has become increasingly challenging for the average home buyer. As Business Insider reports, the most recent International Housing Affordability Survey rates Sydney second on its list of least-affordable cities to buy a house this year, with Melbourne coming in at number six. 

Affordable housing is a complex issue with many contributing factors. But one of the industries that can have an impact on the situation is architecture. By addressing some of the challenges of housing our growing urban population at the design stage, we can make things easier and more affordable for consumers further down the line. But how can architects go about this, and what part can Locker Group play?

Architects have an opportunity to make living in Australia's cities more affordable and more environmentally friendly.

An opportunity for architects

National president of the Australian Institute of Architects, Ken Maher, recently spoke at Parliament House in Canberra about housing affordability. As part of his address he argued for medium-density housing, including multiresidential buildings, as a way to address the issue of housing affordability in our main centres. He believes that architects have an opportunity to help make living in Australia's cities more affordable, as well as more environmentally friendly.

"As a key player in the development of the built environment, the architecture profession has the skills to deliver housing that addresses crucial issues, such as affordable living, sustainable design and flexible housing, providing savings in both upfront costs and the ongoing cost of occupation," he said.

We believe that Locker Group's architectural products can be part of this affordable, sustainable design. Our metal facade products, in particular, are ideally suited to be incorporated into buildings that are cheaper to make and cheaper to maintain, while still providing a comfortable environment for their tenants.

By reducing construction costs you can make residential apartments more affordable.By reducing construction costs you can make residential apartments more affordable.

Reduced construction and maintenance costs

Designing and building with locally-sourced materials saves the costs of importing and expensive long-distance shipping. Locker Group's extensive footprint and ability to produce on a large scale means we're able to provide quality products for competitive prices.

Once construction is finished, there are other ways to save with Locker Group. Many of our products, particularly our perforated and expanded metal facades, can be treated as individual components – if there is a piece that needs repairing or replacing, this can be done without having to pull down the entire facade. By incorporating more of a modular attitude to design, architects reduce the ongoing maintenance costs of their buildings, which means there are fewer costs to be passed on down the line to tenants.

Incorporating sustainability into a building's design benefits its occupants the environment.Incorporating sustainability into a building's design benefits its occupants the environment.

Sustainable apartment buildings have lower running costs

Beyond the cost of buying and maintaining a home, ongoing living costs in a city are high. Making buildings that are sustainable and designed for low energy use are not only good for the environment, but they cost less to live in.

Australia's climate poses a challenge for architects who want to make buildings that don't rely too heavily on artificial air-conditioning. Using shading facades reduces the impact of sun and cools the interior of a building naturally, without interfering with views or airflow, meaning electricity bills come down.

The ecological benefits shouldn't be disregarded, though, as long-term design needs to be sustainable in every sense. As Maher puts it:

"Good design can't be seen as a luxury or an optional extra; rather, it is essential to delivering a built environment that can sustain Australia's diverse communities into the future."

Affordable and green urban housing comes down to consciously designed architecture. This, in part, comes down to using quality products that are made to be low-maintenance and promote sustainability. Get in touch with Locker Group today to find out how our architectural products can be used in innovative urban design.

The sun's heat is a challenge and an opportunity for architects.

Australian sunlight: The gift and the curse for sustainable architecture

One of the primary challenges we face here in Australia is the sun. According to SunSmart Victoria, Australia's UV levels are some of the highest in the world. This is such an issue that some Australian wine makers even have to put sunblock on their grapes to prevent them from being charred by the sun, CNN Money reports.

For architects, the sun presents both a problem and an opportunity. Harsh light and heat can ruin the comfort of a building's occupants, but this intense sunlight offers potential benefits for buildings that aim to be more sustainable and energy-conscious.

Taking advantage of the sun as a power source doesn't mean you can ignore the problems it causes.

The powerful benefits of Australia's sunlight

A good example of this is the proposed Sol Invictus Tower in Melbourne, which was announced last year by Peddle Thorp Architects. The 60-storey apartment building will wear a skin of more than 35,000 solar panels that, along with roof-mounted wind turbines, will provide more than half of the tower's energy needs, Architectural Digest reports. The building's shape is designed to make the most of the sun throughout the day.

Buildings like Sol Invictus are part of a growing movement in architecture that recognises what the Australian climate has to offer, and runs with it rather than fights against it. But taking advantage of the sun as a power source doesn't mean you can ignore the problems it causes.

The sun is great for solar panels, but can be harsh on a building's occupants.The sun is great for solar panels, but can be harsh on a building's occupants.

Balancing sustainability with comfort

The flip side to this natural heat source is that it doesn't discriminate – the strong sunlight that hits solar panels and powers a building also heats the interior and casts glare. For a building to be comfortably liveable it needs to moderate the effect of the sun's heat and glare while still making the most of it as an energy and light source. Solar panels are a great way to take on that second challenge, but what about the first?

Locker Group has a range of products that can be used to minimise the unpleasant effects of the sun on a building's occupants. Woven wire, perforated and expanded metal facades can all be used to provide shade without limiting view or air flow. Check out our case studies for some examples of how LG's architectural products have been used to moderate the effects of the sun.

Harnessing the sun's power while protecting ourselves from its heat are not mutually exclusive goals. Locker Group's products provide ways to design buildings that make the most of what the sun has to offer without subjecting the interior to its harsh effects. Get in touch today to discuss how we can be involved in your next sustainable design project.

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