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Market Report: Sawing & Cutting

Expo explores key issues

Health & Safety regulations and digital tachographs were among topics discussed at the PSE’s latest event in Staffordshire. EHN attended.

Held recently at the Alton Towers complex, the Portable Sanitation Europe (PSE) Expo 2006 enabled members to network with other toilet hire operators. Several educational seminars covering operational issues were held, and approximately 30 manufacturers and suppliers participated in an exhibition running alongside the three-day event.

The PSE’s AGM also took place during the Expo. Chairman Keith Bodinnar reported that the association was strengthening contacts with organisations like the British Toilets Authority (BTA), the Portable Sanitation Association International (PSAI), and BDE, the German toilet association. Dialogue was being maintained with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on issues such as the safe handling of portable toilets. PSE is also adding its weight to discussions on the ratio of portable sanitation facilities to the number of workers on a site, or members of the public attending an event.

Raised profile

Keith Bodinnar described how the association’s profile had been raised further in 2005, owing to publicity created by the G8 summit meeting held at Gleneagles last summer. Articles in The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers, as well as reports on BBC radio, showed interest in the preparations to meet the needs of visitors and protestors who gathered for the event.

The seminar sessions included a presentation from Rick Ruffles, Account Manager with Siemens VDO (www.siemensvdo.co.uk), concerning operational efficiencies that vehicle tracking and navigation systems could offer by monitoring a range of parameters related to the operation of a service vehicle fleet. Knowing the precise location of a vehicle facilitates scheduling and could prove useful in the event of a breakdown. Optimum routes can be planned, with the driver’s progress monitored on-line via the Internet.

Rick Ruffles also gave an overview of digital tachographs, which are being introduced following a 2002 European Directive. These will be fitted as standard on in-scope vehicles with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or more. Equipment comprises a processor, a real-time clock, two ‘smart card’ interface slots, a display, a printer and a calibration/download connector. The unit stores information on activities such as driving hours and break times over the previous 365 days. It also records instances of excessive driving times and speeding. There are four types of smart card, for the driver, the fleet operator, calibration centre workshop staff and a control card for enforcement agencies. Operators need to ensure that staff are adequately trained in using the equipment. Drivers need their own personal driver card from the DVLA, which has to be inserted into the vehicle unit before starting to drive.

Another seminar speaker was Ken Richardson, a former HAE Chairman who entered the tool hire industry more than 40 years ago, and who founded the Aliscaff business manufacturing aluminium prefabricated scaffolding and related products. He described financial advantages that hire companies could achieve through special leasing arrangements, and believed that success lay in maintaining a ‘never say no’ attitude, even when an enquirer asked for equipment not available in the standard fleet. “If you say no, the customer will go and never return. But adding equipment can be an obvious drain on resources.”

He established Master Key Finance Services Ltd (020 8801 9856) to offer hirers leasing agreements on equipment costing £2,000 or more, enabling the money to be paid back in regular monthly payments. Schemes gave several options, including the flexibility of abandoning the agreement within a short time without penalties. Ken Richardson said this was attractive to companies that might have bought an unusual piece of equipment that few other customers had subsequently requested. Leases could also be paid back at any time at a predetermined cost.

Sue Parkyn, the HSE’s Principal Inspector of Health & Safety, described legislation that could affect operators in the portable sanitation industry. 160,000 non-fatal accidents are recorded each year, and 2.2m people are made ill by their work. She believed that complying with legislation was normally based on common sense and that applying it generally led to happier, more efficient staff.

Environmental health

Sue Parkyn explained that Health & Safety legislation was enforced by HSE staff and local authority environmental health officers (EHOs). The former usually covered construction sites and other facilities not open to the general public, while EHOs generally had responsibility for events, concerts and other activities where the public would be present.

The HSE has placed considerable emphasis on the avoidance of musculoskeletal disorders, such as those which can be caused by lifting and manual handling. Portable toilets could be craned on and off vehicles, and manufacturers could incorporate lifting points and hooks on the units. Other methods such as using forklifts and telehandlers could be explored, as well as manual handling solutions like ramps, portable conveyors and pedestrian lift trucks.

Managers also had to ensure the safety of lone workers, such as site service personnel spending long days away from base. Maintaining regular communication with them was important, as well as ensuring the availability of adequate first aid equipment.

Following this year’s event, the PSE hopes that its Expo will become an annual feature. It believes that a dedicated event supported by members and suppliers offers an opportunity to learn about new developments and to exchange views.

T 0121 694 8811
W www.pse.org.uk

Executive Hire NewsArchivesMay 2006Market Report › Expo explores key issues

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