The Health & Safety benefits arising from the low-vibration characteristics of Dennis mowers have led to a massive order from Leeds City Council for nearly 70 of the company's precision mowers.
The forward-thinking council has bought 68 Dennis FT510 pedestrian mowers, supplied by local dealer GGM Groundscare in three batches. The purchasing decision was made following stringent independent testing of numerous manufacturers' machines.
The FT510s are being used on fine turf and amenity areas within the city. They have the additional benefit of accepting dedicated cassettes enabling other essential turf care tasks to be undertaken, enhancing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Leeds City Council believes it was one of the first authorities to fully recognise obligations arising from the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations, which came into effect on 6 July 2005. These introduced a legal requirement to recognise and control workers' exposure to hand-arm vibration (HAV). Vibration can damage blood vessels and nerves in the fingers, leading to a loss of feeling in the fingers and hands. It can cause the industrial disease 'vibration white finger' which, in extreme cases, can make it too painful for workers to hold equipment. Employers may be liable to substantial compensation claims if they are considered not to have implemented proper controls and precautions.
The Regulations lay down strict limits regarding the maximum vibration 'dose' that workers can be exposed to during an eight-hour working day. In most cases, employers must monitor employees' exposure, keep records and implement health screening. Choice of equipment is also key, since hand-held products with lower HAV levels can be used for longer until the maximum dosage level has been reached.
"We are very much aware of our responsibilities to employees, and HAV is a major concern," says Chris Simpson, the Council's Operations Services Manager, Parks and Countryside. "Some time ago, when our existing hand-guide mower fleet was reaching its deadline for planned replacement, we decided to independently test machines from several companies for HAV. We also asked them to demonstrate their equipment and explain what they were doing to address the issue."
Dennis came out very favourably for low HAV. Significantly, this low level has been achieved by the company's technicians without compromising performance or productivity. This gives the best of both worlds - Health & Safety benefits plus a high work-rate.
Leeds City Council has bought a wide range of cassette attachments for their 68 FT510s, including nine- and five-bladed mowing cylinders, scarifiers and sorrel rollers. They will therefore be able to tackle a wide range of duties on facilities such as bowling greens, ornamental lawns, cricket wickets and turf areas in public parks.
The 51cm (20in) wide FT510 is designed for optimum balance and is belt driven, making it smoother and quieter than chain driven machines. Cutting height can be altered quickly. The machine is from a family of Dennis FT precision mowers, plus larger 'G' Series derivatives, with cutting widths from 20-34in (51-86cm). Available attachments include several cutting cylinders, scarifiers, verti-cutters, a turf brush, a slitter and a roller. Some models can also be fitted with a trailed seat.
Leeds City Council takes great pride in its amenity land. Indeed, it has more acres of green space per head of population than any city in Western Europe. So as well as ensuring employee safety, improving the natural environment is high on its agenda - an aim that will be furthered by its fleet of Dennis FT510 machines.