Making LEEA the industry standard
Three months into the new role of Member Engagement Manager for the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) in Australia and New Zealand, Justin Boehm gives his initial view of the challenges and opportunities facing members and their customers.
With little previous exposure to the lifting industry prior to joining LEEA, after a whirlwind first three months at the association I have been surprised and truly impressed at the size and scope of the lifting industry. My first week was at LiftEx2018 in the UK – an outstanding experience and an opportunity to be introduced to the industry at our peak, global event.
Back home in Australia, the general consensus around the industry is that things are buoyant. There are many major projects progressing across the country and most members are feeling good about their business prospects.
One of the biggest frustrations I’m hearing is that many Australia and New Zealand members are being under-cut by fringe operators who lack serious obligations to safety. This is not only a commercial concern; it has broader implications for the health and wellbeing of workers on-site and the detriment to the industry as a whole.
This sets us our biggest challenge: generating broader awareness of our association and getting users to understand that LEEA members bring the quality of excellence to their project. This needs to permeate right through supply chains, because standards can often dilute further down a contractor’s chain. This was the subject of a recent conversation with a member who revealed that one of the major firms within the Oil & Gas Sector, which specifies LEEA accredited inspections, has not upheld that specification via their subcontractor arrangements. This of course gives cause for concern for safety, and the reputation of the industry.
LEEA enjoys a strong reputation in key Australian and New Zealand industries such as Oil & Gas and Mining & Construction. But, as an association, we can do more to boost knowledge and ensure that LEEA becomes the Industry standard for procuring lifting equipment services.
Having had discussions with Defence firms, for example, it’s been disappointing to hear they haven’t been using LEEA members. We need to generate brand awareness within the top tier of industries such as these. We also need to go beyond relying solely on procurement teams knowing that testing and inspections need to happen. It is crucial that LEEA’s best practice methodologies are actually written is into legislation or become recognised as the ‘Gold Standard’. This is a long-term objective – and I’ll be working continually to ensure it happens.
In the mid-short term, I’m hoping to be able to give LEEA members access to business support programs offered by the Australian Government. I also want to connect with end users who can shift mind-set, and put pressure on government departments to recognise LEEA as the ‘gold standard’.
Changes at federal government level can trigger important consequences for our sector. For example: if industrial manslaughter legislation became federal legislation then using LEEA members will be more important than ever to reduce risk for end users. Our members adopt a robust Quality Management System, which – combined with training and documentation procedures – underwrites the LEEA logo as a sign of quality and safety.
This is why our focus on making LEEA the Industry Standard is vital. It is a big goal, but I am confident we can achieve this due to the caliber of people within the membership. I’ve been impressed by so many of the members. There is a real sense of collectivism for the betterment of the industry. It is not for its own interests but because there is a genuine desire to improve the industry. That gives me confidence to go out and promote how good our members are.