Friday, June 19, 2020
This might be the last time I blog before the inaugural Global Lifting Awareness Day (GLAD) on 9 July. The initiative, powered by the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) and partners, is designed to spread the word about raising standards throughout the global lifting industry and to end user markets. It’s also about emphasising the importance of lifting equipment, which is largely overlooked in many sectors.
The easiest way to get behind the campaign is to post content to social media platforms and use the #GLAD2020 hashtag.
As Ross Moloney, CEO at LEEA, says, “All too often our industry is hidden, ignored or unrecognised by end users and certainly by some of the supply chains that we serve.”
I’ve heard it said that the first ever GLAD may be diminished somewhat by the COVID-19 situation and, inevitably, with some marketing professionals furloughed and companies side-tracked by their very survival, that opinion has merit. However, I think the coronavirus pandemic provides great perspective of the importance of our industry. The timing could be perfect.
Think about the deepest trough of lockdown, when most people were confined to their houses and only a handful were permitted to work. Where human activity did take place, lifting equipment and the professionals that provide, manufacture, inspect and maintain it weren’t far away. The obvious example is supermarkets; we had to endure long queues to stock our cupboards with groceries and any luxury we could get our hands on. Stripped of everything else, we were left with a base level instinct to eat.
Most things in a supermarket—a tin of beans, loaf of bread, case of beer, etc.—have been lifted and moved at some point in the supply chain. The manufacturing process would have involved material handling and rigging gear, and possibly an overhead lifting device or two. Then goods need to be packaged. Then stored. Then transported. Then delivered. And restored. Transported again. And stacked on shelves. Try completing that process without lifting anything off the ground. It would be impossible.
The last industries to close down and the first to open (construction, for example) also have lifting equipment at their heart. Infrastructure and highways projects are nothing without cranes and rigging gear. You can’t dig underground without lifting something up. The act of lifting and the products that enable it to be completed safely were as key to our lockdown survival as they are our recovery. As we take small steps back towards normality, lifting equipment is holding up our safety, livelihoods, economies, and more.
We should all be GLAD of it and thankful for it.
The mid-COVID timing of #GLAD2020 could also help the cause in that it’s a necessary distraction. With the news dominated by one subject, having something else to focus on could be cathartic for us all.
If the numbers we all so anxiously await every teatime continue in a downward trend, in another few weeks momentum towards a full recovery will really be building. What better way is there to celebrate than to recognise the importance of high standards in lifting, champion the significance of quality, and bang the drum for continued improvement of lifting best practices? This is a great opportunity that we’ve got to grab with both hands.
I know there will be people who say there’s a national day for everything; we can’t support them all. And, true enough, our social media platforms were just full of National Forklift Safety Day (9 June) content. But I think that’s precisely the point. There are national days for everything and awareness campaigns for things we hardly knew existed. There are movements behind animals, baking, climbing and driving (probably diving too), but lifting is widely overlooked.
Sorry if there’s another national day to add to your calendar, but this one is just as important as the others—more so.
If we don’t back it as providers and users of lifting equipment, it’ll fall at the first hurdle. Everyone who manufacturers, distributes, inspects, uses or interacts with cranes, hoists and rigging gear in any way, should throw their weight behind the initiative. We’ve communicated the campaign to all staff and contacts, and have encouraged them to use the #GLAD2020 hashtag when posting about their work and experiences. Others are sharing videos and generally driving home the vital role lifting plays in so many supply chains and reminding people that best practice is critical to avoiding risk of injury.
As the big day approaches, now is the time to intensify these efforts.
Lifting’s new dawn
The best awareness days aren’t days at all, they’re movements. They might have a day each year where campaigning comes to a crescendo, but it’s a 12-month effort that keeps something relevant and constant in people’s minds. At the moment—let’s be honest—lifting equipment is not thought of even nearly enough and in many industries, even if #GLAD2020 does gain traction, it’ll be largely forgotten again as 10 July dawns. That’s got to change. And we’ve all got to make it our business to change it.
A great legacy for this year’s GLAD, and all those that follow, will be to successfully promote the industry to young people. The campaign is perfect to raise awareness in our apprenticeship programmes and the opportunities the sector can deliver to a young person. (Think Lifting, another LEEA initiative, is supporting this from a different angle as well.)
Think about where students completing secondary school education and those taking engineering degrees spend a lot of their time: social media. If #GLAD2020 can find its way onto their feeds, we can start to erode some of the misconceptions about our beloved industry.
I’d like to see GLAD (and Think Lifting) in front of audiences, especially young people, on a daily basis. We should be mindful of that when we are collating content to post before, during and after 9 July. It’s got to be positive and uplifting, in more ways than one. Think about each tweet, LinkedIn post, Instagram photo, YouTube video, etc. as the one opportunity you’ve got to persuade a young person to choose lifting over a perceived more glamorous marketplace. Now isn’t the time to post photos of a welder in the darkest corner of your facility. Be honest—authenticity is crucial to longevity—but be positive and persuasive.
Start planning your posts:
What has lifting given to your career and life?
Has it introduced you to fabulous people?
Has it been a ticket to travel the world?
Have you made a positive difference to people’s lives?
Has the equipment you’ve made kept people safe—alive, even?
What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
Why should a young engineer Google their local lifting firms?
What makes you GLAD to be in this industry?
Remember the hashtag: #GLAD2020
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd