What do we look like

Today more than ever we like to be seen to be doing the right thing, but all too often do not ‘walk the talk’. We see this in all manner of industries, particularly construction and in major industrial plants. Or in the UK, utilities such as water supply companies.

It also applies to politicians. Wishing to appeal to certain voters they often claim they will ‘cut the red tape’ and regulations that hold companies
back, although they can seldom, if ever, cite the rules they are talking about and rarely follow through.

On the odd occasion when they try - such as the UK government’s plan to repeal all EU regulations that “held the country back” - they discover that ‘red tape’ such as the Work at Height regulations or CE marking are actually sensible and even necessary… and quietly drop their plans.

These days any company of size produces pages and pages of policies covering everything from Human Trafficking and the Environment to Privacy,
Health & Safety and Waste Management etc… with a myriad of detail on how they embed them in their organisation and measure themselves against them.

The aim is to show the world that they really care about health & safety, employees and the environment. Such policies are also a requirement to obtain a quality accreditation, but how many companies actually practice what they have written or properly train staff in these areas and more importantly, encourage a culture that makesthem a reality i.e. ‘walk the talk’. All too often they are just a box ticking exercise.

To be fair, many contractors and equipment suppliers have made huge improvements in recent years and really do care about these things. Training all over the world is at an all-time high and yet still ‘shit happens’. Training is not competence as the saying goes... Why does an experienced and fully IPAF trained delivery driver refuse to wear a harness when unloading boom lifts on site, until forced to do so? And even after having had a reported incident he continues to leave his harness in the cab.

Vertikal.net featured a story a couple of weeks ago about a man riding in a bulk material bag on a tower crane hook to the top of a building - all of which was caught on camera. The bag was probably more than sufficient for his weight - ‘probably’ being the operative word - however numerous people on site including the ‘highly trained’ tower crane operator must have been ‘in on it’, knowing that it was not only stupid and dangerous but that it broke all the rules. Yet no one stopped him, and one even put it on social media. But go to the contactor’s web site and you’ll find dozens of
policies and measures on how it prevents such things from happening.

Perhaps we should worry less about presenting a particular image to the general public, investors and lobby groups and concentrate instead on
getting the basics right rather than ‘ticking boxes’.
If that happened the industry’s image would improve immeasurably.
Mark Darwin