In this exclusive interview with Industry Update Magazine Geoff Holden, Chief Executive, Lifting Equipment Engineers Association explains why more Australian companies involved in the lifting industry should join LEEA and how they can benefit
1. Why should eligible Australian lifting companies join LEEA?
LEEA is a global trade Association representing over 520 member companies operating from 800 locations in 46 countries. Our experience of the industry has shown us that problems and issues are common across the world and membership of the Association allows members to access our knowledge base, join in our various technical activities and use the skills of our technical and training staff to enhance their business.
In addition, LEEA acts as an independent voice for the industry to government and other legislative bodies as well as playing a key role with standards authorities and other industry stakeholders around the world.
2. How can companies benefit from being a LEEA member?
By being part of LEEA companies can access the full range of services available from the Association as well as taking part in local meetings and seminars where they can network with other members working in the industry. Working together companies can help to continually raise standards using the resources available from LEEA, resources which as individual companies they might not be able to afford.
3. How can members benefit by taking part in practical and distance learning training courses?
LEEA has been involved in training lifting inspectors since the mid 1950s the training is linked to an examination and qualification process which is recognised by governments and major companies across the world.
Over 11,000 inspectors have successfully gained LEEA qualifications. Starting as correspondence courses the process has evolved to be either on line distance learning or intensive practical training covering the inspection of a wide range of lifting equipment.
Members benefit by accessing world class training at costs significantly below commercial levels and which lead to qualifications recognised across the industry and unavailable from other sources.
During 2012 LEEA is going forward for accreditation to ISO 17024 - General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons, this will provide independent verification of our qualification process.
4. LEEA can take much credit in raising health and safety standards in workplaces throughout the world. Are you satisfied with current industry standards in most countries?
LEEA continues to work within the industry and with government bodies in many countries to raise health and safety standards. There are obviously differences from country to country depending upon the level of development of their economies. What we aim to do is to provide information and training which represents world best practice and then work with interested parties to continually raise standards.
5. How do you rate lifting standards in Australia compared with other advanced nations?
The focus of our members is on the supply, testing and examination of equipment rather than the lifting process itself. The manufacturing and inspection standards in Australia are comparable with those in all advanced economies, we would seek through our activities and those of the LEEA members to work with all other stakeholders to ensure that those standards are maintained at the highest possible level.
6. LEEA reached another major milestone in signing its 500th member. Do you have any long range membership targets globally?
Membership growth has been significant during the last three years as a result of companies in the industry around the world becoming aware of our activity, of our members already operating in the industry and seeing the benefits to be gained by joining. The growth has been organic and we have not actively campaigned for members, we only wish to grow at a rate where we can continue to offer a high level of service to all members. Over the past two years we have added around 100 new members per year and I think this is a rate at which we can grow and maintain service levels.
7. What are the future challenges facing the lifting industry throughout the world?
As more manufacturing moves to the low cost economies it is essential that quality standards are enforced and that those countries producing the goods are encouraged and helped to raise their standards to the levels already achieved by the developed economies.
Inspecting poor quality product out of the supply chain is essential but not the answer to the problem, only improving quality at source will ensure that health and safety standards are maintained.
There are also moves in some developed countries to reduce regulations by removing or combining regulations to reduce the perceived cost to industry. LEEA has a role to play in both of these processes to ensure that the voice of the lifting industry is heard and that the current low levels of lifting related accidents are not compromised by either of these activities.
8. How do you see the future of the lifting industry in these tough economic times?
A large quantity of lifting equipment is used in the energy and mining sectors, with the current demand for raw materials and the need for continual oil and gas exploration we can expect a high level of activity for the foreseeable future particularly in Australia. Elsewhere in the world the picture is less clear and will depend to an extent upon a satisfactory solution being found to the problems in the Euro zone, a failure to solve those problems could affect the whole world economy.
However in the longer term there will always be a need for overhead lifting and the future remains promising for those companies offering high quality products and services.
About Geoff Holden
After completing a degree in Metallurgy in Sheffield UK Geoff joined Bridon Wire in 1976 as a development metallurgist developing a range of wire products.
After a time with Liftex a subsidiary company carrying out the statutory inspection of lifting gear he returned to Bridon Ropes as a development engineer involved in the development of the Dyform range of crane rope products.
Following a spell managing a number of Bridon sales and distribution businesses across the UK during the 1980s in the 1990s he was part of the senior management team involved in the creation and development of the Bridon distribution business which became the international wire rope and lifting equipment distributor Certex.
Leaving Bridon in 2002 to join Spanset he was responsible for sales of their range of lifting and lashing products eventually also becoming the UK sales manager for the Spanset range of height safety products.
Joining the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association in 2008 he is now responsible for the international development of the association and for the provision of the association’s services to 520 member companies worldwide.
As part of this he is involved in liaison with a number of international trade associations, governments and other stakeholders in the lifting industry.
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