GB Access Director, Nigel Bland, Reflects on 30 Years in Business
The celebrations are underway for hoist hire specialists, GB Access, who reached 30 years in business this summer!
To mark the milestone, GB Access Director, Nigel Bland - who has been with the company for over two decades and worked in the industry since 1973 - reflects on some of his experiences, highlights and the changes he has witnessed over the past 46 years…
1. You have worked in the hoist hire industry for almost five decades. What have been some of the highlights?
I have worked on so many interesting and diverse projects over the years, from 200m high chimneys to 100m deep shafts; it is really hard to choose just one highlight.
During my time with GB Access I have worked on The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Wembley Stadium build, which presented a mammoth task due to the volume of equipment required. There are so many stories; I think I will need to write an autobiography when I retire!
2. Most interesting part of the job?
Managing to get our hoists into places that others have said would not be possible, plus, overseeing a successful project from quotation to installation. There’s nothing more rewarding than a happy customer!
3. How did you get into the industry and why did you choose hoist hire?
My career began working on a local building site and as I fancied driving the tower crane, the driver agreed to use me as his banksman and taught me how to operate the machinery myself.
Keen to progress, I took a job with another company where I was hired to erect tower cranes. The company also had hoists and I was eventually taught how to erect them by a team of very experienced erectors. The rest is history!
4. You must have witnessed quite a few changes to the industry over the years?
I have witnessed many changes to the industry during my career, especially with regards to health and safety.
Today, there is much more emphasis placed on safe working practices. Nowadays all mechanical engineering workers are required to sign up to the industry recognised Skills Card Scheme (CSCS) to provide proof of their skills and to access project sites in line with health and safety legislation.
Here at GB Access we also expect all of our Hoist Installers to undergo extra A-Plant training for working at height, NPORS wearing and use of safety harnesses, Manual Handling, plus general health and safety.
There was no legislation like this when I first joined the industry.
Another change I have witnessed is the introduction of new innovative technology into the industry.
Offering variable speed hoists, pre-select floor levels, bigger and bigger cage sizes, plus safe working loads in excess of 5000kgs, new equipment is taking the hoist industry to a whole new level.
5. You have been a steering committee member on all of the CHIG (Construction Hoist Interest Group)/CPA Best Practice Guides since 2003. Tell us a little bit about your role?
CHIG was founded to provide a dedicated and committed platform for companies to discuss issues and improvements for the Hoist industry, involving HSE, Tier 1 Contractors and National Training Bodies.
The group has published a number of Best Practice Guides covering the essential health, safety and legal requirements for maintenance, inspection and thorough examination of construction hoists and I have been on the steering committee that write the guides since 2003.
I was also on the committee that wrote the BS 7212 (versions 2006 & 2016) Code of Practice For Safe Use Of Construction Hoists and more recently on the Technical Standards Committee for Construction Hoists MHE/6.