Kat Moss, IMS Manager at Catena Inspection & Engineering Services and Chair of LEEA (Lifting Equipment Engineers Association) outlines the importance of the association within the logistics and supply chain sector
Competency is a big topic when it comes to safety, how does being a member of LEEA negate these concerns?
Safety underpins everything LEEA has been doing throughout its history and will continue to do going forward, with zero accidents and injuries from working at height being our prime goal. One of the biggest leaps in achieving this aim is having a recognisable global benchmark of best practice operational excellence and assurance of safe practice. That’s what carrying the LEEA badge represents.
By encouraging more lifting equipment providers, service companies and individuals to become members and earn the audited excellence of the LEEA badge, we can more easily normalise global best practice and substantiate further our growing influence when campaigning for safe practice among legislators around the world.
What does the process for becoming an LEEA member entail?
The Technical Audit forms an integral part of LEEA’s Membership Assessment process. Every new application received has to be posted on the LEEA website for a period of 30 days to allow for any objections from existing members. After this wating period, the Audit is carried out through site visits by LEEA’s Member Engagement Team, with an inspection lasting several hours, even up to a full day in some cases.
Rather than a simple snapshot of compliance and competence at a moment in time, the Audit provides a development mechanism that ensures that each and every LEEA member rapidly achieves, and maintains, the highest international standards. It shows they meet, and often exceed, the requirements of local laws and regulations. Members, their customers, and their regulators can thus be assured that high, verifiable and sustainable safety standards are being adhered to.
What role does LEEA play in the supply chain and logistics space?
Wherever you look at logistics operations within a supply chain, the smooth flow of goods depends on being able to lift. From port cranes loading and unloading cargo at docks, to multimodal operations, such as lifting loads from trains to lorries at railheads. Inside the warehouse there is a bewildering variety of cranes, hoists, platforms, cradles and their associated chains, ropes, slings and other tackle used commonly to lift goods. Then there are the stacker cranes running up and down the aisles of automated storage and retrieval systems.
How important is LEEA for accident and injury prevention?
A globally recognised and respected association, LEEA offers a benchmark standard around the world that gives international workers and business the assurance of safety. For example, where there are gaps in governance, legislation and regulation, the latest version of the ‘COPSULE’ can be downloaded for free at leeaint.com. This is a recommended Code of Practice, providing expert guidance on safe lifting practice. It offers authoritative information written by impartial industry experts, up to date industry practice and globally applicable guidance. LEEA is also nurturing a safety culture through a better trained workforce with courses available at all levels – right up to directors of end user companies.
How has your involvement with LEEA developed since you began working with the association?
I have a full-time role as IMS Manager at Catena Inspection & Engineering Services, which supports me in my ‘passion project’ to work with LEEA. I became more involved with LEEA after joining Catena in 2010 and developing in the business, eventually joining the Association’s Technical Committee.
I commenced my two-year tenure as Chair of the LEEA Board in January 2022. The preceding Covid-influenced year was a period that had brought forward some of the plans I had in mind for LEEA, with online courses becoming more digital as well as broader for international members.
The focus during 2023 is on adding more courses and languages to LEEA’s state-of-the-art Academy 2.0 learning platform. We will also continue establishing Regional Councils, which play a key role in LEEA’s global strategy. So, rather than being a global organisation directed from the UK, this allows individual international areas to take their own direction. The already established Australia and New Zealand Regional Council is being used as a model for rolling out the Middle East Council this year.
As the driver behind Global Lifting Awareness Day, what was the purpose of this inception?
The Lifting Sector is a good example of an essential and commonplace industry that despite existing in plain sight, commands little or no perception among the wider world. By highlighting the importance of high standards, safe practice and technological innovation we can showcase to end users how important lifting is in their own sectors, hence Global Lifting Awareness Day – or GLAD, as it is appropriately known – which is dedicated to celebrating the Lifting Industry. I encourage everybody to join in on 13th July 2023, when the entire global industry will be broadcasting these messages across social media using the #GLAD2023 tag.
The skills gap and recruitment are big concerns for the industry, can you tell us about the Lifting Technician Apprenticeship?
Like many sectors, we face a recruitment challenge. Prior to becoming Chair of the LEEA Board, I was Chair of the trailblazer group for the Lifting Equipment Technicians apprenticeship standard in England, which provides a great pathway for new recruits into our sector. It has been a rewarding project but very hard work. A lot of time was spent refining what we’d expect a Lifting Engineer Apprenticeship to look like with constant, and often changing, requirements to satisfy along the way. Now the apprenticeship is live and available. It can be a day release or it can be block training, which is what Lifting Equipment Technicians are used to.
What benefits does this offer employers?
The Apprenticeship which is rated as a Level 3, which is ‘A’ level equivalent, is firmly based around the needs and expectations of the industry and those going into it. Developed by the industry itself, it embraces not only task-specific skills, but broader knowledge of engineering, business and other fields, and the ‘softer’ employability skills around values, teamwork and communication.
Apprentices will come away with specific skills such as how to inspect and repair lifting equipment or assemble slings, but also broader engineering and IT knowledge, an understanding of Health and Safety, of the commercial implications of their activities, and they will acquire abilities in report writing, customer service and much more. Starting recruits with the solid foundation of a lifting apprenticeship ensures they carry best practice throughout their career, rather than picking up unsafe habits from older colleagues. The apprenticeship also provides a natural gateway for further Continuing Professional Development (CPD) options, such as advanced LEEA training.
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