What a year!
Where do you start with 2016? The year of Brexit. The year of Trump. The year we lost David Bowie, Muhammad Ali and Prince.
Someone said to me recently that if you are at a quiz in a few years’ time and the question begins ‘which year’ you might as well as answer ‘2016’ because it will probably be correct!
Of course, the full fall-out of what Brexit and the Trump presidency will mean to industry hasn’t been felt yet. Brexit, for all the talk about it, hasn’t technically been triggered in the UK yet and Donald Trump doesn’t take over as President of the USA for a few weeks.
What it means is we go into 2017 with a good deal of uncertainty. We’ve all lived with uncertainty before and while we cannot bury our heads in the sand we cannot let these events dictate the way we run our business.
The way D-Drill came through the last recession was through investing in apprentices, in diversifying and making sure we were ready for the upturn when it came.
In many ways, the upturn in construction in the UK still hasn’t quite happened and we once again keep our fingers crossed that the recent promise of investment in infrastructure will begin to bear fruit.
In the USA, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) released its final rule on Respirable Crystalline Silica in March, much to the disappointment of the industry.
The new rule will be extremely difficult for many sawers and drillers to implement and adhere to, which may lead to hefty fines and contractors going out of business. More importantly, there is no equivocal evidence to suggest this new rule will decrease numbers related to health issues and deaths from silica exposure – the numbers are already much lower than OSHA suggest.
It is another development that we will all keep a close eye on to see how it affects companies across the States.
That said, as I prepared to put this column together, I spoke to one or two people in the industry across the world and it made me much more upbeat about the New Year and what it has to hold than I would have been if I’d just picked up a newspaper or switched on a TV.
Training in the industry is reaching strong levels – the CSDA (USA) graduated 115 people from its four training classes at World of Concrete 2016 in February which was an 83 per cent increase on 2015.
The DSA apprenticeship scheme has now reached an intake of 55, which is great news for the future of the sector and we will look to build on that.