Posted on Friday, 3rd May 2019
This week on our blog we’re talking about women who lift; not weights but those who choose a career in lifting operations. Read on for information about the vocation, a potential career path and the qualification and training you will need for a career in lifting operations.
It isn’t a secret that there is a shortage of skilled and trained individuals in the construction industry. The shortage of skilled employees in certain areas, such as lifting operations can have multiple consequences, from not meeting project deadlines, and quality and safety concerns.
Reasons for the skills shortage are varied and range from an ageing workforce to the perceived ‘unattractiveness’ of the construction industry, particularly by younger people.
Lifting operations (crane operations) are still a popular career choice for many, however, more needs to be done to encourage people into the industry.
One way of encouraging more people into the lifting industry is to promote the occupation to groups of people who may believe that a career in lifting isn’t something they could achieve, or an industry they wouldn’t be welcome in.
It isn’t unusual these days to find women in the construction industry, it is, however, slightly more unusual to find women working specifically within lifting operations.
One woman changing views on female crane drivers is Katie Kelleher, Crawler Crane Operator and Appointed Person at Tideway London. An ambassador for women in the construction industry, Katie joined the construction industry in 2015, choosing a huge career change after more than ten years working in sales. She became the woman on the Lifting Technician Apprenticeship with Select / Laing O’Rourke, enabling her to operate tower cranes, mobile cranes, crawler cranes and pedestrian cranes.
A Construction News ‘person to watch in 2019’, Katie is leading the way for women who may be interested in a construction career, acting as both an example and inspiration.
As shown by Katie, lifting operations can be a great career path for women, even those who have never previously considered the construction industry.
One of our assessors here at Essential Site Skills, Dave Newton, is currently in the middle of an Appointed Person NVQ with a female candidate and strongly believes that there is a place for women in the industry, saying;
“There’s a skills shortage within lifting operations and very few ladies on sites. Where I have met ladies on site they have been welcomed into the lifting teams and are shown the respect their positions warrant”.
Dave is an experienced assessor and trainer in plant, lifting operations and site supervision levels 2 to 6 and recommends following a set career path for anyone interested in a career in lifting operations. Suitable for anyone wanting to work with cranes or other lifting equipment, Dave recommends the following; Slinger Signaller progressing to a Crane or Plant Operator, then onto a Crane Supervisor and finally, becoming an Appointed Person.
A position as a Slinger Signaller would give an operative the knowledge and understanding of lifting operations from the ground. They would gain a perception of the crane’s capabilities and spatial awareness, as well as the benefit of using multiple slinging methods and gaining confidence in a safety critical environment.
Once a person has gained experience within lifting operations, they could then progress onto being a Crane or Plant Operator, operating equipment such as a mobile crane, tower crane, pedestrian operated tower crane, excavator with lifting ops or roto telehandler.
As an operator you would have responsibility for setting the plant up in line with, the safe systems of work (lift plan, rams, etc) – acops – manufacturers specification. This makes great experience for those wanting to progress to a Crane Supervisor or an Appointed Person.
Becoming a Crane Supervisor means you would be responsible for making sure that the lifting operations are undertaken to the safe systems of work, the work area and ground conditions are suitable to set the machinery up on, and that everyone in the lifting operation is competent and suitable to carry out their roles.
An Appointed Person would be your next career goal, with an aim to take responsibility for the lifting operation and planning. This would involve calculating and sourcing the right equipment to undertake the needs of a client, whilst working with the Acop’s, and providing a safe system of work for the lifting team.
Although the above course is our recommended career path, it isn’t necessary to be an Operator before you think about qualifying as a Supervisor or an Appointed Person. You can progress to Crane Supervisor from other managerial positions if you pass the relevant tests. Even if you start off as a Slinger and love working with cranes but don’t have the head for heights to be an Operator, it is possible to progress to Crane Supervisor or Appointed Person. This would mean you could still work with cranes but in a managerial position rather than operational.
The route you take entirely depends on your end goals, and what level of learning is suitable for you and your employer. If you enjoy being an operator and want to carry on, there is no need to become Crane Supervisor – you can however become an Appointed Person.
However, it is important to note that the recommended route (Slinger, Operator, Supervisor, Appointed Person) would give a person well rounded skill and knowledge in the lifting industry.
Passing a qualification is no match for hands on experience when it comes to lifting operations. Progressing from an operator role will give you valuable insight into how cranes work, site conditions and safety.
Crane Supervisors and Appointed Persons new to their role with no lifting industry experience, even if they hold a blue card may find working with complex lifting projects very challenging due to their lack of operational experience.
For more information on a career in lifting operations and how you can get started on your journey, please get in touch. One of our advisors will be happy to help you find the right training to help you progress your career.