- Case Studies
Written by Barnie Simpson, Cameron Murphy, Kevin Miller, Jack Delaney and Jack Ouwejan
On Monday, we started our Copper Upskill Course in the Training Academy which lasted for two weeks. At the beginning of the course we were led through an in-depth presentation on various aspects of the course and our environmental obligations both as an individuals and as a whole. We also covered multiple sides of HASWA law. We were then split into two small groups Group One focussed on the Exchange side work and what is needed when the E-side doesn’t work in the cab or up the pole and Group Two focussed on the pole and climbing aspects.
Group One were shown a presentation giving specific details about work on the E-side and how to run a new E-side pair from the exchange. We were taught the correct way to work in the exchange. We were also taught about the soldering iron holders, how to attach and use them, and that there are certain types with a grey colour to look out for because they contain asbestos.
Group Two were focusing on the pole side of the course, where they were educated on various aspects of pole safety, pole climbing and how to inspect the pole before use (Pre climb check).
Throughout the rest of the first week, Group One completed a test about the Exchange and E-side, along with security and safety questions about the exchange and the correct way to work in one. It also asked questions on how to handle soldering irons and holders.
Group Two worked out on the pole field and in the workshop on internal cabling. Paul presented a slideshow on all aspects of pole safety, detailing numerous points of importance when inspecting the poles. Before climbing you must check the height of the dropwire and perform a ‘pre-climb check’ to ensure the integrity and safety of the pole. If the dropwire height is below 5.2 metres then we must not climb the pole as the wires are a safety hazard will droop and potentially cause problems for traffic such as buses, trucks etc.
In the workshop, we learned how to correctly and adequately run dropwire from the pole, into the customer’s house and through various fixings to an extension. We also learned what wires must go to what fixings, and how to work with various wires. These is also an aesthetical part to the job, because if the wires are working, but are not neat and tidy, then the customer may lodge a complaint as it looks unsightly in their home.
Following this we were taught how to perform a cut and draw at low level, then to climb and do it at pole height. A cut and draw is a type of procedure where you use an existing dropwire to pull new dropwire through to renew the line. This is done typically when the previous wire is in need of replacement. We also performed ladder checks, set ladders up against the poles and learned the correct techniques to climb them.
At the end of the two weeks all groups were joined and taught how to turn at height and how to climb safely over an obstacle on the poles. It is imperative that all engineers know how to safely climb and manoeuvre around obstacles as to ensure they are safe to operate on the DP’s.
We found this fortnight challenging but also enjoyable. It was great to learn about all aspects of the Copper Installation and understand how complicationed the tasks can be.
On Monday each apprentice was buddied with an Engineer, this benefited both parties because the engineers have more knowledge and experience, whereas the apprentices have seen various aspects of the cooper course and knew more about things like the cut and draw technique.
On Tuesday, we participated in ground level Dropwiring, where we assisted the engineers in performing a successful sash line provide and a cut and draw at low level. It is important to understand these techniques before you climb the pole because it prevents you from causing problems for yourself whilst your up there, or forgetting things, causing you to climb up and down the ladder more times than you need to. In the field, this may mean moving your ladder back and forth between the pole and the customer end more times than you need to.
On Wednesday, we started the internal wiring and cabling, which consists of running the internal cable through the home to the exit fixing, then running downlead from the outside of the exit fixing and up towards the dropwire bracket, then connecting the dropwire to the downlead in the Above Ground Closure (AGC). From there, it is attached to the metal fixing via clamp and ran to the pole to be fixed into the DP. Once that is complete, a tone is sent through the line with an oscillator to ensure that it is a continuous line, and that there are no faults in any of the connections. We completed this exercise in a training room with different “bays”, wooden boarded sections used for practicing.
On Thursday, we were working on the internal again, but worked in different bays as they are set up differently. This is helpful as it allows us to work around different problems that we may face in the field, such as having to run the wires around or through different obstacles such as other sockets, outlets, boarding or damaged walls. When connecting the wires it is imperative that the correct wires are joined together.
We also had to run the internal wire to an NTE, and from there into an extension socket. This is used in a customer’s house to get a wired connection for suitable devices in other rooms to the one with the router.
On Friday we met with out Tutor to discuss our progress for the week. It’s great to look back on how much we have learnt and how far we have come in this short time.
On Monday, we were practicing for our Dropwiring assessment, which meant we must be able to practically perform multiple methods of providing a dropwire to a house, including a sash line provide and a cut and draw. For the sash line method, you attach pulleys to the top of the pole and house side fixing and pull the sash line through. Once the sash line is pulled through and secured, measure your height. If you have achieved an acceptable height then, using a double sheet bend, attach the sash line to the dropwire and pull it through. The other method is used when there is an existing dropwire that needs to be replaced, the new dropwire is attached to the old one, and the existing dropwire is used as a temporary sash line to pull it through. Both methods are used to maintain the height to prevent the dropwire from hanging low into traffic, becoming an obstacle and a hazard. If a car hits the dropwire, it could pull the pole down, potentially damaging all the houses attached.
On Tuesday, we completed our assessment under the watch of Paul, our assessor who ensured we were competent and confident enough to complete these tasks. Various parts of this assessment can trip you up, safety hazards such as not checking the height of your line or not locking your dropwire dispenser to secure it. If you are pulled up for any of these various reasons then you can be failed immediately.
On Wednesday, we completed various tests and assessments, testing our knowledge and confirming our understanding of the course and the job. It is important to pass the tests as they allow the trainers to see that you are following the course and the training they provide.
On Thursday, we went through a presentation explaining all the Dropwiring techniques for the engineers to use in the field. This slideshow also outlined numerous safety precautions and various methods of reducing hazards in your work environment. We were taught how to read the markings on the poles and how to differentiate between them.
On Friday we had another catch up with our apprenticeship tutor and completed our learning journals.
At MJ Quinn we believe new projects should be undertaken with great amount of consideration, planning and research.