Friday, November 17, 2017
The industry is lucky to have LEEA and this year’s LiftEx gives us an opportunity to celebrate it, says Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd.
I won’t be alone in detecting that there are rumblings of discontent at the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), as it prepares to host its flagship event, LiftEx, at the International Centre, Telford on the last two days of the month (November).
I don’t want to get sidetracked by the gory details but I will take an opportunity to remind people how important LEEA is and suggest that we need to leave Telford in a week or so singing from the same hymn sheet. In fact, we need to head home shouting about it from the rooftops.
LEEA is a light source for members and end users alike. Let’s look at just a few reasons why:
It is established across the globe as the leading representative body for all those involved in the lifting industry worldwide, working in every aspect of the business, from design, manufacture, refurbishment and repair, through to the hire, maintenance and use of lifting equipment.
LEEA has played a key role in this specialised field for over 70 years, from training and standards setting through to health and safety, the provision of technical and legal advice, and the development of examination and licensing systems.
It has been providing specialist training services to its members for over 50 years.
The association has its own dedicated training centre in Huntingdon, whilst providing training at members’ premises and offering e-learning courses for membership worldwide.
Its TEAM card allows industry to check that the person responsible for keeping their lifting equipment in a safe condition is qualified to do the job.
Training courses are accredited by City & Guilds. The TEAM card, meanwhile, is now approved and endorsed by Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).
Every company that wishes to join LEEA is required to undergo a safety and standards audit. To be eligible for full membership, they must meet the required standards.
Members are represented at the highest levels across a range of both public and private bodies, including various government departments, as well as nationally and internationally recognised professional and technical institutions.
LEEA provides a highly cost-effective range of support and back-up services to ensure members can operate both successfully and profitably in today’s complex marketplace.
The annual trade show now co-locates with the LEEA AGM, dinner dance, conference, innovation theatre, and more.
The show floor attracts buying decision makers from industries including rail; construction; renewable energy; civil engineering; entertainment; road and maritime transport; health and safety; utilities; and manufacturing.
I could go on…
Knowledge is power
I’ve been aware of LEEA for 25 years and have a clear understanding of where the industry and I would be without it—somewhere far worse off, put it that way. I’ve taken five exams, including the Runways & Crane Structures Advanced Programme, which is a five-day, intensive course covering hands-on practical training to complement essential theory sessions. The programme is based on runway beams, jib and mobile gantry cranes and structures, including thorough examination procedures and criteria for returning items to service.
These courses are not like a 25m swimming test that leads to presentation of a certificate for the bedroom wall; this is world-class training that creates experts and keeps people safe—alive, even. At LiftEx, there will be many snazzy-looking gadgets and brightly-coloured slings on exhibits, but behind each bit of kit there needs to be a skilled, expert workforce that knows how to apply it safely in a dangerous construction or manufacturing environment. LEEA is a beacon for this message across the world.
We’re proud to put on LEEA accredited courses here at Rope and Sling headquarters, spreading the word about LOLER, PUWER, competency, appointed persons, inspection, rigging, safety and much more. It gives us tremendous satisfaction to know that people leave our facility wiser and better equipped to carry out their duties than when they came through the door that morning. Without LEEA this would be much harder to achieve.
The timing of this year’s LiftEx is good in that it presents an opportunity to address the matters of the day and move forward. It’s worth remembering that LEEA can trace its roots all the way back to wartime Britain in 1943, when a small group of competing companies came together to address what they perceived as a serious threat to their livelihoods.
Founded in adversity, the association has proved itself many times over and I expect it to be flying the flag for its members and this industry for many years to come.
The fulcrum for many people this year will be the much anticipated AGM, where LEEA is expected to name its new chairman and update members on a number of developments, including the search for a new chief executive following the retirement of Geoff Holden earlier this year. Alan Varney, operations director, and I will be in attendance where we’re hoping to learn of the association’s robust, cohesive strategy for 2018 and beyond.
While there has been much speculation in the lifting trade itself about this year’s summit, the LEEA community deserves credit for not allowing it to filter into end user marketplaces, where the brand is held in the highest regard. But the dam can only hold so much water and we should remind ourselves what’s at stake, and consider what our founding fathers stood for, when we sit down in the UK’s midlands to set our next course.
One can’t ‘buy’ LEEA membership. As alluded to above, the association’s board decides if a company meets stringent standards and qualifies for membership or if they need to take any action before full membership is granted. To become a full member, a business must be an organisation that is engaged for profit in the verification of lifting equipment, and which, in the opinion of the directors is competent and can give an adequate service. As membership has grown—exponentially in recent years—across the world, this ethos has remained at its core, and it should be upheld.
We’ll be proud to represent LEEA, our own brand and this industry at LiftEx Stand D12. Everyone associated with these dealings should be too.
See you in Telford!
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd