The first NFDC/NDTG High Reach training course was recently held in the UK, with nine individuals attending from eight separate contractors. Held over a three-day period - the first two at the National Demolition Training Group's Hemel Hempstead headquarters and the third at Komatsu UK's manufacturing plant near Newcastle - the course covered all the key basic operating practices included in the NFDC's High Reach Guidance. Course content includes machine design, machine guarding, visibility, stability and ground pressure, drop and exclusion zones, start-up and shut-down procedures, and machine maintenance. Particular attention is paid to structural awareness, site suitability, and ground conditions.
"Thankfully, the UK has an exceptional safety record with the use of high reach demolition excavators. But the incidents that have occurred have generally been the result of failing to identify underground voids when tracking a machine across a site or operating the machine wrongly for the type of building," said NFDC chief executive Howard Button. "To avoid these problems in the future, a large part of the new course content has been developed to ensure that operators are fully aware of their surroundings and the specific challenges presented by each new site."
The inaugural course was attended by nine experienced operators from eight of the UK's leading demolition companies, and the course content was well received by them all. "The course was very informative," said AR Demolition's Tom Poole. "All the trainers involved have a great first-hand knowledge of the business." Poole's comments are echoed by those of Paul Best from Erith Contractors. "The NDTG trainers have done it all before and they clearly know what they're talking about. The course provides a great foundation."
NDTG training group manager Sophie Francis, who attended the first course herself, says that the delivery of the world's first dedicated high reach excavator training course was a real team effort. "The course was written by Duncan Ruddal with input from Howard Button. The practical part of the course was held at Komatsu UK's Birtley factory. And the cost of each trainee's participation was covered by a grant from CITB-ConstructionSkills," said Howard. "Without their input and enthusiasm, this course could not have taken place and the NFDC and NDTG owe all of them a huge debt of gratitude."