Have You Been Working in the Scaffolding Sector for Most of Your Career?
When leaving school at the age of 17 I started work as one of the scaffold labourers. The company that I worked for was located out of Chatham, Kent, made up of a 3-man gang. It was very dangerous and dirty work. Our team would arrive at 6 am at the yard each day for loading up the lorry. From here, we would move onto the work that was planned for the day. For many years, I worked in the position of a scaffolder, and only later was I able to advance my position when within TRAD, I was offered the opportunity to progress onto an Advanced Scaffold Inspector and from there a SHEQ Officer. Today, I am the Environment, Groups Safety, Quality, and Health Manager. (I am working as a part of our SHEQ team under the Group Safety Director).
What Has Changed about Scaffolding since the Year That You First Started?
When I first started work with smaller scaffolding businesses, the area of safety was somewhat poor, and not much training or education was provided. In fact, some of the scaffolders even preferred to work unsafely. Accidents during this time were regarded as “occupational hazards”. However, there have been many significant improvements over the years, that were mainly driven by the industries like ours, the NASC, and reputable clients. Today, scaffolders are highly trained. With the growth of trusted and reliable scaffold suppliers like APL Kwikform, I am very proud of how professional scaffolders have become. Their adherence to safety practices has dramatically lowered the risks of injuries.
What Are Your Thoughts about the Injury at Work Statistics?
The “falls from height” statistics have dropped since 2000, since the introduction of the NASC Safety Guidance that included how to work safely at height SG4. Over the last 18 years, the NASC has noticed an 80% reduction. The 2018 NASC Safety Report has shown an additional 46% decrease in Falls From Heights, from last year.
Before this time, FFH (Fall From Height) accidents were very common. I, along with many of the people I used to work with, know of someone that has sustained serious injuries or has died when working for one of the scaffolding companies. However, for the last 5 years, NASC members have received no fatal injuries. This is positive, but it is vital not to become complacent and it is also important to keep forging forward to introduce further improvements.
What Are Your Thoughts on the Main Benefits Offered to NASC Members?
If you are an NASC member, it offers immense value that is also highly beneficial for the clients that work with the NASC contractors. There are many benefits you can enjoy like receiving SSIP accreditation, along with access to professional advice like tax issues and employment, funding made available for training, and so much more. When you choose an NASC member including TRAD you are assured that each scaffolder has extensive training which makes them competent and safe, and stringently audited. These scaffolders are also more than 50% gold or blue-carded, along with a 75% minimum PAYE.
What Are the Largest Challenges Facing the Scaffolding Industry?
I think that it is very likely that scaffolding will progress into a far more specialised trade. For this reason, this sector should be focused on attracting young, dedicated individuals that have the drive and determination to eventually become great scaffolders. There is a lot of potential available, but it must be sought actively by the scaffolding, mobile scaffold and construction industry. TRAD employs lots of apprentices. We offer an excellent mentoring scheme along with many ambassadors that work to recruit the future generation of competent scaffolders.
Do You Feel That Your Previous Jobs Have Assisted You in Becoming a Better Safety Professional?
Yes, absolutely. The experience I gained by working my way up the scaffolding sector gave me experience and first-hand knowledge to reach the position I am in today. Every position contributed to the career I have now. When I was working as a Scaffold Inspector, I noticed great quality work and bad workmanship. This helped me greatly to understand there was a real need to introduce high-quality training.