For how long have you been working in the scaffolding sector?
I graduated from school by the age of 17 and I landed my first job as a scaffold labourer right away. My employer was a small company in Chettenham, Kent. I was working in a team of three people. The work was hard and extremely dangerous. We had to get to the yard at 6 am to load the truck and to set foot for the work day. I did this hard and dirty work for many years, without any hope to advance in my career as a scaffolder. Fortunately, I managed to grab an opportunity to become an tube fitting services apprentice with TRAD. Later on, I became a SHEQ Officer, and then Group Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality Manager. I’ve been holding this position to this day and I’m very happy with my being part of the SHEQ team.
How did the scaffolding sector change since you first started?
Back in the time I started to work for small scaffolding companies, the industry lacked even the basic safety culture. Employers provided little to no training to their workers, and some scaffolders preferred to overlook safety measures. Accidents were considered part of the trade, so nobody made a big thing out of such occurrences. Nevertheless, over the years, the industry improved thanks to businesses like ours, together with the NASC and with some of the clients. All scaffolders receive high-quality training these days. I’m very pleased with the level of professionalism in this industry and with the current best practices that encourage safety and make it the first and foremost priority of workers, companies and customer alike.
What about the injury at work statistics?
I’m happy to see a steep decrease of the number of falls from height since SG4 was introduced by the NASC, back in 2000. Over the past two decades, there has been a noticeable decrease of 80% in falls from height, as mentioned by the NASC Safety Report.
In the past, falls from height were quite common. I have known many workers who died or ended up with sever injuries while working in the scaffolding sector. I’m happy to see that the NASC member didn’t have any fatal injuries over the past five years. This is an awesome improvement by comparison with the time when I started working as a scaffolder. Even though this is awesome, we should always strive to improve safety standards even further.
What are the main advantages of NASC members?
Being an NASC member comes with a wealth of benefits, being therefore a valuable asset. It is also good for clients who hire NASC contractors. As part of the NASC, you receive your SSIP accreditation, you get additional funding for training, and you get professional advice in regard to tax issues and employment laws.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenges the scaffolding sector needs to face these days?
In my opinion, the scaffolding industry will become a highly specialised sector of activity. The industry will need to attract young people and train them to become great scaffolders. There’s huge potential for a successful career. However, the young generation needs to become aware of this, so the major players in this industry will have to use ambassadors to handle the recruitment of young individuals.
Do you think that your previous jobs have contributed to making you a better safety professional?
Yes, there’s no doubt about it. The safety professional I am today owes a great deal to those jobs. In my role as a Scaffold Inspector, for instance, I had the opportunity to see excellent work, but also lousy workmanship. That enabled me to gain a better understanding of what high-quality training should look like. Thanks to my previous experience, I know how to develop and teach safety standards that work.