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A political approach

25 October 2023

Ross Moloney explains why it is important to engage with legislators to help them understand the role of lifting in key sectors like logistics and how to improve safe practice.

LIFTING IS ubiquitous. It’s in every sector you can name and takes place in all corners of the world, involving every kind of project – large or small. In logistics operations within supply chains, the smooth flow of goods depends on being able to lift.  Maritime and port cranes lift cargo on ships and bring it to shore at docks. Further into multimodal operations, cranes will be used at railheads. Inside the warehouse, companies commonly use a broad variety of cranes, hoists, platforms, cradles and their associated chains, ropes, slings and other tackle to lift goods lift goods. Then there are the stacker cranes, running up and down the aisles of automated storage and retrieval systems to fetch or put away goods. They are becoming more common as labour costs rise and the need for fast order fulfilment increases.

Efficient logistics operations depend on being able to lift reliably, with minimised downtime. However, in any lifting operation safety is paramount and this is what underpins everything LEEA has been doing throughout its almost 80 year history – and will continue to do going forward. Zero accidents and injuries is our prime goal, with members around the world, working in all sectors, united in the desire to make lifting safe.

The impact of accidents and injuries is potentially devastating for the people involved, and to the businesses they work in. Safe practice is also an economic issue because it builds resilience in the supply chain. Part of achieving the goal of zero accidents and injuries is through encouraging industry to invest in efficient material handling equipment for safe operations. Our forward looking industry is always innovating, with constantly developing technologies such as automation, autonomous cranes, anti-collision technology artificial intelligence, machine learning, remote operation, all contribute from a technological standpoint to safe operation and separating people from risk.

Adopting a safety culture

Equally important, however, is the adoption of a safety culture. This applies not only to those who actually use, or are in proximity to, lifting equipment but also to senior management because they, ultimately, will be the ones with the legal obligations and culpability for any unsafe practice. 

A safety culture will be aided by a better trained workforce at all levels. There are few excuses today for not improving knowledge and learning techniques that will lead to safer practice, with more courses available that are more accessible than ever through online learning. In addition, we now have the opportunity to start recruits with the solid foundation of a lifting apprenticeship, available in England, that ensures they carry best practice throughout their career, rather than picking up unsafe habits from older colleagues.  

Engaging with legislators

Another important part of building a safety culture is raising lifting related issues with legislators, so that they can gain a better understanding of this incredibly important sector and what constitutes best practice. 

This was the background to LEEA leading a group of member companies to the House of Commons in Westminster in July 2023. We welcomed an impressive roster of MPs including Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North; James Morris, MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis; Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire; Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley; Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon; David Duguid, MP for Banff and Buchan; Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde; Gary Sambrook, MP for Birmingham Northfield; Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire; Mark Fletcher, MP for Bolsover; and Kim Leadbeater, MP for Batley and Spen. They all spent time talking with member companies and organisations, and I would like to thank James Morris MP, who hosted the event, and all those who supported and attended.

Helping regulators and legislators to understand challenges faced by industry can carry of lot of weight. For example, the recent changes to policy on UKCA and CE marking addresses the concerns of LEEA members that were expressed when the Association met with government ministers.

Winning the argument for high quality practices and equipment in all supply chains is a core aim for the Association and aligns strongly with our role as a global safety organisation. We aim to continue to engage with legislators and regulators and have a positive influence on developing safety and best practice through becoming their ‘technical advisor’. 

Best practice guidance

As part of our growing momentum behind a global approach, we hope to be meeting many more regulators around the world, whether directly or through our Regional Councils. While regulations are continually introduced around the world to improve safety, they are not always aligned on a global basis and there will be gaps. 

This is where a globally recognised and respected association such as LEEA comes to the fore, by providing benchmark standards that can be applied around the world, giving international workers and business the assurance of safety. 

For example, 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. The Association is planning to develop the COPSULE to make it even easier to use. Currently available to download at leeaint.com, it can also be accessed via the LEEA Connect App 2.0, which is also available to download at leeaint.com not only to LEEA members but also to non-members free of charge. 

LEEA and its members and will not relent in striving to achieve the goal of zero accidents and injuries. Industry should collaborate wherever it can to promote this goal and Global Lifting Awareness Day, which this year took place on 13 July, was a great example of how, through industry wide co-operation, the message of safety can be broadcast across the broadest possible spectrum through social media posts, videos, articles, and in-person activity bound together globally by the hashtag: #GLAD2023. 

Finally, we will be encouraging more lifting equipment providers, service companies and individuals to become members and earn the audited excellence of the LEEA badge. A bigger membership will normalise best practice among more people, companies and organisations, and will further substantiate LEEA’s growing influence when making the argument for safe practice with legislators around the world.

Ross Moloney, CEO, Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA)