Have you worked as a scaffolder for your whole career?
I completed my studies when I was 17 years old and started working as a scaffolder right away. My employer was a small company based in Chatham, Kent, in a three-man team. The work was dirty and often time dangerous. Our team would get to the yard by 6 am, load our lorry, and leave for the day.
I held my position as a scaffolder for many years until I got the opportunity to advance my career to an Advanced Scaffold Inspector and, later, a SHEQ officer. Currently, I’m the Group Safety, Environment, Health, and Quality Manager. As such, I’m part of the SHEQ team led by the Group Safety Director.
How much has the industry changed over the years you’ve been active?
In my early years in the industry, the safety culture was poor, with workers receiving little training, and some scaffolders preferred the unsafety culture. This was especially prevalent in the small scaffolding companies. Scaffolder considered accidents as an occupational hazard.
However, the industry has experienced significant safety improvements over the years, driven by the NASC, reputable clients, and companies like ours. Today’s scaffolders are highly trained specialists. And with the rise of trustworthy mobile scaffold hire, including APL Kwikform, I’m incredibly proud of the professionalism of scaffolders in the industry today. They operate with safety as a priority, which significantly reduces injury risks.
What are your thoughts on the Injury-at-Work statistics?
Since the introduction of the NASC Safety Guidance in 2000 regarding safe working at height – SG4, there’s been a significant decline of falls from height. The NASC reports that over the past 18 years, there has been an 80% reduction in falls. Furthermore, the 2018 NASC Safety Reports indicated a 46% decline in Falls From Height in the previous years.
Before the introduction of the regulations, FFH accidents were unfortunately common. Every scaffolder knows of someone that was seriously injured or died while working as a scaffolder. The good thing is, in 5 consecutive years, no NASC member has suffered fatal injuries. The goal now is to deter complacency from creeping in and always improve the conditions even further.
What are the main benefits of being an NASC member?
Being an NASC is valuable for scaffolders while also being beneficial for clients who contract NASC companies. Some of the benefits you accrue from NASC membership range from accessing professional advice (including tax and employment issues), receiving SSIP accreditation, some funding for training, and much more.
Clients who choose an NASC member such as are assured that their scaffolders are well-trained, competent, safe, and stringently audited. More than 50% of members are gold or blue carded and with 75% minimum PAYE.
What are the biggest challenges that the scaffolding industry is facing?
The scaffolding industry will likely develop into a specialised trading field. The challenge moving into the future the industry needs to attract and retain dedicated young individuals with the drive and determination to learn to scaffold and become excellent scaffolders in the future.
While there is great potential out there, industry players need to seek out such individuals actively. We recruit and employ many apprentices. Additionally, we have created a tremendous mentoring scheme, and we work with several ambassadors to recruit future scaffolders.
Have your previous jobs helped you become a better safety professional?
Yes. I’ve worked my way up the chain in the scaffolding industry. My working years have given me first-hand experience and an in-depth understanding of the scaffolding industry. Every job I’ve had has contributed to where I am today—working as a Scaffold Inspector gave me insights into shoddy work and bad craftmanship. This experience moulded my understanding of what is needed to ensure high-quality safety training. Importantly, it has given me an intricate appreciation of why safety is of utmost importance.