What is your work experience in the scaffolding industry?
After I finished my education, i went to work as a scaffold labourer for a small company in Chatham, Kent. Were were a team of three people, showing up to the yard every day at 6 am to load the materials and to set off for the day. The work was exhausting, dirty and dangerous. It took several years for me to find an opportunity to move up on the career ladder. Eventually, I became an Advanced Scaffold Inspector with TRAD, and after that a SHEQ Officer with the same company using mobile aluminium tower scaffolds. Today, I am the Group Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality Manager. This is my dream job and I try to do it the best way I can.
How has the scaffolding trade evolved since you first started?
In my early years as a scaffolder, the safety culture among smaller companies was rudimentary. We didn’t get too much training. Also, many scaffolders preferred to ignore safety rules. Accidents were nothing but occupational hazards, so we just hoped they won’t happen to us. Since then, the industry has tremendously evolved. Now, scaffolders receive high-quality training and major players in the industry enforce safety standards. This safe behaviour has resulted in a significant decrease of the number of work accidents and human injuries.
What about the injury at work evolution and statistics?
The NASC Safety Guidance for safe working at height was introduced in 2000. Since then, the industry has seen a 80% decrease of such work accidents. For instance, the 2018 NASC Safety Report pinpoints an additional 46% reduction in Falls from Height compared to the previous year.
Before the introduction of SG4, fall from height accidents were rather frequent. We all know of people who have died or have suffered severe injuries. However, over the past five years, none of the NASC members reported any fatal accidents. This is great news, but we need to keep developing new standards for enhancing work safety among scaffolders.
What are the benefits of joining the NASC?
NASC members enjoy some great benefits such as getting their SSIP accreditation, access to a wide knowledge database and to professional advice, as well as funding for training. There are also benefits for the end customers. By choosing TRAD, or any other NASC member for that matter, you can have the peace of mind that scaffolders are skilled, well-trained and up-to-date with the latest safety practices.
What are, in your opinion, some of the most important challenges the scaffolding sector has to overcome?
In my opinion, scaffolding will soon evolve into a highly specialised area of activity. In order to cope with the increasing safety demands, contractors will need to attract young people and to train them to become professional scaffolders. The potential is huge, but the construction industry needs to raise the safety standards and to ask for highly-trained workers. TRAD has already a history in hiring apprentices to train them on the job. Our mentoring scheme allows us to recruit the best individuals to train the next generation of scaffolders.
Have your previous jobs helped you in your today’s role of safety professional?
Yes, that’s for sure. Thanks to my experience in the scaffolding industry, I gained a better understanding of the safety-related challenges and of the bets solutions to keep workers safe and to prevent severe injuries. My career is the sum total of the experience I’ve acquired in all my previous jobs. I remember the time when I was a Scaffold Inspector; in this role, I had the opportunity to see some examples of excellent work, but also errors and bad workmanship. All these helped me to understand the needs to provide high-quality training to scaffolders. Also, my experience allowed me to make the difference between good safety practices and hazardous work environments.