October 31st, 2020

City business putting a wedge between COVID-19 and workers


By Jensen, Randy on April 15, 2020.

Haul-All’s Kelly Philipp and Brent Cummins have engineered a metal wedge to prop their garbage receptacles lids open to help people avoid touch surfaces. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

Despite facing its own operating challenges in the current COVID-19 crisis, one company has set up a program to help municipalities fulfil their public health obligations in terms of trash disposal.

Lethbridge-based Haul-All is a North American leader in producing hide-a-bag and other trash receptacles for public use and trails. They also manufacture trash collection vehicles and large-scale waste transfer equipment.

Recently, the company’s vice-president of sales and marketing, Brent Cummins, noticed City of Lethbridge Parks staff were having to go to labour-intensive measures to prop open municipally-owned hide-a-bag receptacles using drilling and bolted in prop-mechanisms.

He challenged his company’s engineers, with the approval of his ownership team, to come up with something better. The result was something called a “Haul-All wedge” made of 16-inch gauged solid metal.

“It’s uniquely bent in a way that allows the door to be propped open safely and doesn’t require any drilling and it can easily be added and removed in the field,” explains Cummins. “This isn’t a permanent solution; this would be the temporary solution due to the current situation. It’s a prop that holds the door open approximately seven inches.”

The company quickly provided 400 of the easily installable and removable wedges to the City for its uses, and took time away from its own production schedule to do so. Cummins explains why the device is necessary in the current coronavirus pandemic.

“Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health specifically called out waste receptacles as an area to be cautious as lots of people touch waste receptacles,” he says. “So it is important to limit the exposure to metal surfaces, which the hide-a-bag lid is, in a public setting. That is very important. By propping it open you have eliminated or reduced that risk.”

Haul-All co-owner Kelly Philipp says they were glad to help out in this way as it is something they can do in their own power to provide some community support during a time of crisis.

“We thought it was an outstanding opportunity to step up and reinforce our commitment to the community,” he confirms.

Haul-All still has more than 100 workers employed in its Lethbridge production plant when other industries and organizations across the city have had to temporarily shut down or lay off employees. Philipp is proud of that fact they have kept people working; although COVID-19 has meant making adjustments to existing operations.

“It was March 16 when we implemented a pretty aggressive COVID countermeasure plan to keep our employees safe and keep the plant open,” explains Philipp. “We have got over 100 employees that rely on these jobs to keep food on the table; so we needed to do something to maintain the safety of the work environment.”

Philipp says impending shortages on the supply side of things now represent Haul-All’s greatest challenge to maintaining its current production crew and schedule.

“We are keeping an eye on our supply,” Philipp admits. “That’s really the big thing right now is making sure we can continue to get materials and some of the sub-assemblies we need including bigger items like (vehicle) chassis. That’s probably our biggest challenge right now. They shut all the plants down. All major North American auto-makers shut their plants down; and so with the closure of those plants we are not getting chassis.”

While Haul-All must await further developments on that front, Cummins says the company will continue to do what it can to support Lethbridge and other communities in the area with the Haul-All wedge program.

“Difficult or challenging times is an opportunity to express community spirit, and remind of the intrinsic rewards that come from working together and collaborating toward a common goal,” he says. “That’s why we got into this: It was something we felt which could help guide our community through this crisis, and do our part.”

For more information on the wedge program visit the Haul-All website at haulall.com.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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