Features, Repair and maintenance, Work health and safety

Twists and turns

kal tire

Kal Tire’s new tailored pre-task stretching program shows that the company puts just as much care into its own team as it does its customers.  

The rapid development of technology is making workplace safety better than ever. But with machines shouldering much of the heavy lifting when it comes to safety, it can be easy to overlook what workers can do. That’s why Kal Tire, a tyre management and supply partner to the mining industry, is rolling out a physiotherapist-designed stretching program to keep its workers safe. 

The Kal Tire team supports the Australian mining industry with the changing out of tyres and wheels as required. Tyre management is also a big part of the business, with Kal Tire helping its customers achieve their tyre goals, whether that be optimising vehicle performance or maximising tyre life. 

With permanent boots on the ground at over 150 mine sites around the world, as well people conducting mobile drive-in, drive-out support as required to many more, Kal Tire understands how rigorous tyre maintenance can be.   

“As a tyre service provider to customers all across Australia, our technicians are required to change tyres on many different types and sizes of vehicles. That means we use a lot of heavy equipment,” Kal Tire managing director for Australia Miles Rigney told Safe to Work. “In some cases, our teams are squatting for a length of time. As some of these tyres we work on can be 4m in diameter, you can imagine that there’s a lot of reaching involved in the job.

“Injuries can occur when a team member is not properly prepared for these manual handling tasks.”

kal tire
Tyre maintenance is rigorous work, making physical preparation so important. Image: Kal Tire

With the risks of the job in mind, Kal Tire engaged a physiotherapist to help develop its dedicated stretching program based on the kind of movements required of a tyre technician during maintenance. 

“While there have been other stretching programs that some of our customers have implemented for their employees – which our team members have joined in on – we now have our own customised program,” Kal Tire health and safety manager Paul Coverdale told Safe to Work. 

“It comes from the experience of a trained physiotherapist and was developed by looking at the all the lifts, twists and turns our technicians perform during typical tyre maintenance activity. 

“This way, if a task requires a certain type of lift, a technician can use the program to see the best type of exercise or stretch to prepare their body.”

The program comprises of over 50 exercises, some of which can be done in a worker’s room while others can be done on the workshop floor. The range gives workers the ability to vary the program to match their work for the day, while also keeping things interesting. 

Rigney and Coverdale, both of whom have past experience on the workshop floor, said they were excited to start rolling out the program across Kal Tire’s Australian operations. 

“I think what ‘good’ looks like is a reduction in the risk of sprains and strains for our team,” Rigney said.

“They can put in a little bit of time before the task to get their muscles properly warmed up so that they don’t feel sore afterwards. 

“That would be a great outcome.”

Easing some of the physical challenges associated with tyre maintenance will also help make the role more accessible. 

“With the labour shortage in the Australian market at the moment, a typical tyre service technician today might look very different to how they looked 20 years ago,” Rigney said.

“They could also be relatively new to the mining industry, and we’ve got more female representation in our organisation than ever before.

“So we’re doing everything that we can – not just to strive for best practice in safety, but also to help ensure that as new people enter our industry we’re doing everything we possibly can to keep them free from harm.”

In addition to the new stretching program, Kal Tire employs a safety management system to report incident and close-call data to all parts of its operations, right up the chain to the leadership of the company. This data comes from employees, resources regulators, and even incidents that occur at unaffiliated mine sites. 

In other words, Kal Tire has its finger on the pulse when it comes to best practice in safety. 

“There would be nothing worse than having to learn the same lesson twice.” Rigney said. 

This feature also appears in the March-April issue of Safe to Work.

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