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Conducts health and safety improvements

With its long corridors, signs on doors warning about contaminating 'clean' areas, and staff uniforms that consist of white coats, masks and surgical gloves, the UK headquarters of Dynex Semiconductor looks more like a hospital than a factory.

However, when you stop to examine the state of the art and extremely delicate semiconductors that the company produces, it soon becomes apparent why such precautions have to be taken. From its purpose built 14,000 square metre factory in Lincoln, the company’s products are exported throughout the world.

They have been used in international space projects for more than 20 years and also feature in everything from planes and trains through to everyday electrical appliances that you have in the home.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the potential number of uses for the company’s products, but with so many of them in industries where you really can’t afford for any faults to occur, it’s also easy to see why every possible precaution is taken to maintain the highest standards of production.

The technology is so sensitive that even the tiniest dust or atmospheric particles could cause defects if they find their way inside the circuits. This means a lot of the assembly work has to be carried out in ‘cleanrooms’ that are completely sterile to prevent any environmental contamination.

The air entering these areas from outside is filtered to exclude dust, and the air inside is constantly recirculated through more filters to remove internally generated contaminants. Staff come and go through airlocks wearing fully protective clothing, and all equipment inside the ‘cleanrooms’ is specifically designed to generate minimal air contamination.

The factory houses a fully integrated silicon fabrication unit, assembly and test areas, sales teams, and design and development operations. It also has an extensive stores department that is kept busy supplying all types of equipment and components to every department in the building.

Keeping pace with the fast growing business, as well as advances in technology was proving challenging for the stores department, so in the summer of 2010, Colin Jackson was appointed as Group Leader to head up the team, and strengthen weaknesses in the systems by updating existing and instituting new systems within the stores.

What does your job entail and why were you appointed?

My overall responsibility is to make sure that the stores department runs smoothly and efficiently and to manage the team. At the beginning, a big part of the job was to update the range of risk and COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessments and ensure there was a full paper trail relating to all aspects of health and safety to which members of the team could refer.

Does that mean you were buried in paperwork for the first few months then?

Yes, I was. During the first two months in the job I worked on more than 35 risk assessments and a lot of these then led to the COSHH assessments because we are also responsible for moving all types of chemicals around the building.

What types of chemicals do you deal with?

Although we don’t directly come into contact with the chemicals, we are responsible for moving all types of acids and solvents around the building in containers and if there was an accident it could have disastrous consequences.

How can you help to protect against these kinds of accidents? We use specialist equipment such as Slingsby’s work positioners and powered Go-Far trolleys which means that these substances can be moved almost anywhere without having to be manually handled. As well as reducing the chances of them being dropped, this in turn reduces the risk of injury from lifting the containers which can often be very heavy.

Do you take other precautions to protect against manual handling injuries?

Every member of the stores team regularly attends specific manual handling training courses as well as training for completing lifting operations and following lifting equipment regulations. Previously we also had lots of boxes weighing up to 25kg stored on pallets on the floor which had to be moved manually. However, we’ve recently invested in one of Slingsby’s racking solutions which keeps things off the floor and greatly reduces the distance things have to be lifted.

How else does the racking benefit the stores department?

It’s also made it much easier to keep things organised and ensure that everything has a home because we can easily divide it into locations and log where things are. We’ve also seen significant efficiency improvements because people are able to locate things immediately.

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