The MJ Quinn Apprentice Blog Weeks 1-4


Onward & Upward – The MJ Quinn Apprentice Blog Weeks 1-4

Written by Barnie Simpson, Cameron Murphy, Kevin Miller, Jack Delaney and Jack Ouwejan.

Week One

On Monday morning all of the apprentices had a meeting with the Data Protection Officer regarding MJ Quinn’s policies on data protection laws, ethics, information management, HR security and cyber security and the necessity of keeping and having strong passwords to protect not only your data but the rest of the company’s information.

On Tuesday, we met with Paul one of the Trainers at the MJ Quinn Training Academy, where we participated in some ‘hands on’ learning. We were taught how to secure a dropwire into a metal clamp. We learnt that when the wires are suspended over roads they must be a certain height to allow sufficient vehicle clearance. This is important as if the wire is lower, over time it will bow and sag, meaning it will become an obstacle.

We met with Scott on Wednesday who showed us a few examples of ‘cabs’ that we might encounter when working in the field. He also taught us how to run a dropwire into a fastened connection, transferring a signal to a down lead.

On Thursday we ran a jumper cable from the primary connection point to an internal cable, which ran through multiple secured fastenings on the wall, ending at the Network Termination point. We then used a tone generator to send a pulse through the connection and a tone probe to test it on the other side, confirming that the wire has been attached correctly. We also practised the Self Installation side of the job, running jumpers from the exchange side to the distribution side of the cab, ensuring a tone goes through.

Friday was a classroom based day, where we met with our Apprenticeship Tutor and completed various forms and paperwork.  

All in all in our first week we were a bit nervous but excited to get started and settled in. By the end of the week we all felt more relaxed and eager for weeks ahead.

Week Two

This week we starting to learn about pole climbing. To begin with we were taught about safety hazards, how to use and check our lanyards, safety belts and harness. Checking your equipment before you start is a main aspect of working at heights as you need to be safe and secure whilst climbing. We each checked our lanyards for any defects such as frayed stitching, meaning the lanyard would not meet the HASAWA standards. We were also taught about the environment and how to protect it by disposing of materials in a better way. This induction taught us of all the MJ Quinn requirements and the risks to ensure that we do the job correctly.

Once we had conducted all of our checks it was time to climb. We began on the smallest pole, which is 2.5 meters high. Once we were securely at the top of the pole we learnt how to turn. The reason for turning is that you may have Distribution Points either side of the pole that you need to work on.

The following day we climbed the 5.5 meter, medium pole. Whilst we were at the top of the pole we secured the drop wire to a clamp. This meant we had to let go of the pole, lean back and use both of our hands relying on our equipment to keep us safe. This is what would happen at the telegraph pole and the customers home out in the engineering field.

Finally, we all climbed the 8 meter pole, to give us a better insight into the heights we would be expected the climb in the field.    

We all felt a bit apprehensive about climbing the poles, even the smaller one but we found we all relaxed and gained confidence once we had completed our first climb. As the week went on we became more aware of the environmental responsibilities and the need keep ourselves and others safe whilst working.

Having to climb and learn to trust your equipment was nerve-wracking at first but we were all so pleased we have achieved this mile-stone and it brought the group together.

Week Three

This week we practised climbing on the poles. Beginning on the 2.5 metre pole, we practised turning at the top of the pole. This needs to be practised because in some cases there may be 2 DP’s on the top of the pole or in other cases there may be objects blocking you from climbing the side of the pole where the DP is placed so you are needed to turn to access it.

Once we were confident turning on the smallest pole, we went to the 5.5 metre pole and began climbing and turning on this, this allows us to gain more confidence at a higher height. We also learnt the technique of extending a ladder to taller heights and the technique of bringing them back down from height. We also climbed the ladders to get used to the technique for climbing bigger poles. Whilst using the ladders we were taught the technique of carrying ladders safely to prevent injuries.

As well as climbing we practised the technique of wrapping a clamp around a drop wire at height, we worked in teams of twos to provide a drop wire from the DP to the customer pole. In our teams we created a sash line to attach the drop wire to both ends and then one of the two in our pairs climbed the 2.5 metre pole and secured the drop wire to a clamp. Once that had been secured and our partner was safely down from the pole, the other person climbed the 5.5 metre pole and secured the other end of the drop wire to another clamp so now the drop wire is secured at both ends.

Finally, we watched a presentation on the drop wiring techniques. This made us aware of all the rules on attaching drop wires to customer’s houses, including the suitable heights and towards the end of this slideshow we took a test on all of this.

After this week we all felt much more confident working at heights. We all understood the actions we must take before, during and after working to make sure we are safe and those around us are too. It was a challenging but very enjoyable week.

Week Four

This week we started our first full week of shadowing with Paul as he completed jobs in the field, working on the Primary Connection Points (PCP’s) or ‘Cabs’ and occasionally checking the DSLAM’s. Once Paul had demonstrated how to safely complete the job on a cab, we were separated into groups of 2’s to work on different cabs.

We also learnt how to use the Fast Track service, to test the initial line condition before working on it and how to send a remote CPI tone through to find the wire with a toner. Once we had found the start of the wire, we had to follow it to its end, making sure it was a consistent wire with no breaks or crimps. From there we ran the copper E side wire to the Fibre D side wire. We then used Fast Track again to make sure the line was efficient enough meaning any problems with wire is most likely to be at the customer’s end. After that test came back, we had to connect the wires and run the connection through.

After lots of observation and practice we were all assigned individual jobs and separate cabs. Some of the cabs were cast-iron ones, meaning that the hinges on the doors must be visually inspected before opening to prevent further damage. Cast iron doors are spring loaded, meaning that it is beneficial to apply light pressure to the doors whilst opening, preventing them from springing outwards and injuring you. We were also taught about other cabs such as the midland shelf cabs. One thing that everyone noticed on Thursday is that it is much easier to work on cabs when there is only one person working on them, as more people just get in the way, use the tool you need, etc.

With the help of Paul along the way we all completed the steps we had been taught ensuring we completed our individual jobs safely. Each of us made sure we were always wearing our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and had our gate guards in position, which always must have 1 metre clearance for mobility scooters and other pedestrians, around the cab before we began our work.

We all really enjoyed working in the field and putting all we had learned into practice. It was great to see how much we have learnt in a relatively short time.

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