The components that make the wheels turn

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Graham Bow, committee member of the Scottish Plant Owners Association, takes a look at some of the changes within the plant industry in recent years and tells Project Plant why everyone needs to work together to ensure a thriving future for the sector.

HAVING witnessed the most noticeable growth in the Scottish construction industry since the 2008 crash over the last few months, it is refreshing to see that the light they said was at the end of the tunnel is not, as suspected by many, a train or someone with a torch but in fact hope to all!

We have been so used to holding onto plant equipment and doing “the least possible” in training to remain compliant over the past few years that we now face an uphill struggle into what was once common ground to new-found uncharted territory.

Over the years changes in legislation have been brought to the industry. Whether they are good or bad remains to be seen. Whatever your view, it’s a route we are forced to follow.

Transport operators will be aware of driver CPC and CLOCS legislation that involves training and adaptions to vehicles and drivers. Euro 6 engines have become the norm for all new vehicles purchased. Work at height systems have been more frequently sought after by contractors on truck bodies and construction equipment alike.

The loader securer and plant movers categories for loader/Brimec drivers are yet further additions to the CPCS training scheme.

Plant owners will be aware of operator training requirements with more calls by major contractors for workers on their sites to have quick hitch training, lifting training and the latest CPCS qualification of the lifting category. Machines with quick hitches are now fitted with twin locking quick hitches that became a requirement in 2010 if you were working with a major contractor.  Quick hitch warning devices are now fitted with audible alarms.

New machines are beginning to roll out with AdBlue requirements and are fitted with the boxing ring-style of work at height protection. Dumpers are now fitted with VCAS sensors that warn the operator of pedestrians or people around them.

Looking at the above everyone will have an opinion and the debate will carry on for the foreseeable future.

I, like many others, see good and bad in the changes. We need to change the mentality of the people more than anything.

At 33 I am young and have a great deal to learn. However, like most I feel I know a fair bit of what is required of me.

No doubt you, like me, will have suffered the “What am I needing that for?” questions, but having recently completed not only CPCS but also DSA and IOSH courses for training, I’ve learned new things and also discovered what can be difficult circumstances our operatives find themselves in.

I recently sat my CPCS health and safety and qualification renewal touch screen tests, and although I’d say I was a confident person I found myself wracked with nerves and leaving the sitting of my tests to the week before my expiry date.

I was as nervous as I have ever been!

And this was me having studied at length the H&S book and the information fact sheet pack that CPCS provide to assist. Thankfully I passed and my card was renewed.  I can take my experience forward and have used it to work with our guys to help them feel more at ease.

I’m of the opinion that I believe operatives should sit a practical test as the main part of their renewal and that they also need a theory side for them to be competent. And whilst the test was not simple from reading the fact sheets, I refreshed my knowledge on the tasks I was undertaking, which in turn I hope will make operatives more understanding of the tasks managers are required to undertake in the day to day duties.

We are short of operatives, with more and more leaving the industry daily. Whilst we are busy it doesn’t take much time to encourage and assist the operatives we have to understand the levels of investment we have all made on equipment and them to make working life safer and easier for all.

We have all in some way invested in the future – whether it be on training, equipment or safety related procedures. They all come at a price.

If there are no operatives then we have no one to operate plant or transport in firms. We need to work with them to help hone and develop the key skills so that together we enjoy a continual growing industry for many years to come.