For how long have you been working in the scaffolding industry?
I got my first job as scaffold labourer by the age of 17, just as I left school. We were a team of three and our company was located in Chatham, Kent. The work was messy and risky. We started our work days at 6am. We loaded the lorry and off we went for the day. I worked as scaffolder for so many years, but my career didn’t budge until I came across the opportunity to become an Advanced Scaffold Inspector. Then I became a SHEQ Officer, and then a Group Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality Manager, position which I hold to this day.
Is scaffolding different now than when you first started to work in this industry?
When I first started, small scaffolding companies like the one I worked for had a very poor safety culture. They provided little to no training to new employees. Almost everyone considered accidents as being nothing but occupational hazards. Slowly but surely, companies like ours, together with the NASC and some of the clients, implemented significant improvements. Today scaffolders receive high-quality training, and therefore the risk of injuries is much smaller than in the past. Professional scaffold suppliers take their job seriously, so there’s no longer room for unreliable companies in this business.
What is your opinion on the injury at work statistics?
The incidence of falls from height has significantly decreased since the NASC Safety Guidance for safe working at height was implemented, back in 2000. The figures over the past two decades show about 80% decrease of this type of accidents. According to statistics published by the NASC, the number of falls from height in 2018 was 46% lower than the number of falls from height in the previous year. This is a great result and it proves the SG4 system is indeed effective in keeping scaffolding workers safe.
In the past, FFH was among the most frequent accidents in this industry. All of us, scaffolding workers, know at least one person who dies or suffered severe injuries as consequence of a fall from height accident. It’s worth mentioning here that none of the NASC members has had fatal injuries over the past five years. This is awesome, but it doesn’t mean we can relax. We need to keep improving safety standards in our industry, for the benefit of all parties involved in constructions or renovation projects that involve the use of scaffolding.
In your opinion, what are the main benefits NASC provides their members?
Being a member of this association has great value. Also, clients who choose to work with NASC contractors can benefit from the rather strict safety standards. You can receive SSIP accreditation, you can benefit from additional funding for training, and you can take advantage of employment and tax issues advice from some of the best experts in this industry. By hiring either TRAD or any other NASC member, you can rest assured you’re going to get safe, experienced and well-trained scaffolders. More than 50% of them are either gold or blue carded, and score a whooping 75% minimum PAYE.
What do you consider to be the most important challenges the scaffolding industry has to face today?
It is very likely that scaffolding will sooner or later become a highly specialised trading. It comes without saying that the industry needs to do everything to attract young people who are motivated to become professional scaffolders. The potential is huge. Nevertheless, the constructions industry must create the market demand for this type of highly specialised services and high quality standards. We, at TRAD, hire a big number of apprentices and we carefully train and mentor them to create the next generation of expert scaffolders.
Do you think your previous jobs contributed to make you a better safety professional?
Yes, I’m very sure of that. Each job I had led me to my current status. Throughout the years, I had the chance to see bad workmanship, as well as excellent quality work. All these helped me acknowledge the need for high-quality training.