The Break Fast Show #472

In today’s show: Bobcat showcases its latest company wheel loader; we are going all electric with Volvo Construction Equipment; and we are staying electric as Husqvarna unveils its first battery-driven plate compactor.

PLUS ConExpo 2023 is now less than two weeks away, which means that it will be less than 100 days to PlantworX when we get back from Las Vegas. So, as it appears on the industry horizon, we have a sneak preview of the UK event.

Comment – Workers die while charities jostle

If you were in charge of health and safety within the sport of Formula 1, you would rightly be judged upon the number of accidents and fatalities. If they decreased during your tenure, most would agree you were doing a good job. It is highly unlikely that your success or failure would be judged upon the amount of crash barrier you had purchased.

If you were in charge of safety within an airline, your success would be judged upon a reduction or elimination of plane crashes. It would not be judged upon the amount of money you spent on seat belts.

Here in construction, however, we do things differently. We do not judge our success in the fight against suicide within our ranks based upon a reduction in the number of people taking their own lives (which is just as well because the number is still climbing). No. We apparently judge it based upon the number of mental health first aid courses sold.

During a Mental Health in Construction reception hosted at the Houses of Parliament last week, it was claimed that the industry was winning the fight against the mental health and suicide crisis. And the evidence for this bold but entirely spurious claim was that sales of mental health awareness courses had gone up.

The last set of suicide statistics from the Office for National Statistics proved that industry suicides had actually risen. Even then, the annual figure given – 507 – is thought to be just a fraction of the true number.

All of which raises another question. The old adage says that “if you can measure it, you can manage it”. If we can’t even get a firm handle on the number of industry workers taking their own lives, how can we possibly hope to stem the tide?

As if that weren’t worrying and depressing enough, it now appears that some of the charities that are tackling the mental health crisis are now jostling for position. Surely they should be unifying to fight a common foe, not fighting to be the wannabe suicide’s charity of choice.

While Government pats itself on the back and while charities fight among themselves, construction workers are dying (although the rate at which they’re dying is seemingly anyone’s guess).

And all the while this is going on, the situation facing demolition and construction workers continues to worsen.

A new report last week says that almost two in five UK tradespeople are working extra shifts or doing longer hours because of the cost-of-living crisis, and nearly a quarter say they can’t afford to take any days off. More than nine in ten take less than the required amount of annual leave – On average, they take just 11 days off per year. And 26 percent of those surveyed admit to working while they’re unwell. I can only assume that means both physically AND mentally.

So, just to be clear, selling more mental health first aider courses is NOT winning the fight. It merely proves that the industry is better at selling than it is at listening. The fact that the number of suicides is still rising despite the presence of more mental health first aiders surely calls into question the validity and efficacy of those training courses.

And all the time that Government spins it as a success; all the while the industry pursues its virtue signalling approach; and all the time those charities jostle for the limelight, people are dying. They are dying in their hundreds. For all we know, they might be dying in their thousands.

This column was inspired by episode #471 of The Break Fast Show.

The Break Fast Show #471

In light on the ongoing mental health crisis that is raging and unchecked within the UK demolition and construction industry, we will be focusing exclusively on this topic.

We will be joined by our very special guest, builder, broadcaster and mental health awareness advocate, Andy Stevens who has this week been to parliament to express his concerns to the UK government.

If you have experienced mental health issues at or because of work, or even if you haven’t, please join us if you can.

The Break Fast Show #470

On the day that marks the seventh anniversary of the Didcot Disaster that claimed the lives of four demolition workers, DemolitionNews will begin with a four-minute silence in their memory.

The show that follows will be unscripted and will feature no advertising and no video content.

The entire show is dedicated to the memory of Michael Collings, Ken Cresswell, Christopher Huxtable and John Shaw and to their families.

The Break Fast Show #469

In today’s show: Manitou offers a first glimpse of its latest construction telehandler; Hitachi is all set for ConExpo 2023; and we’re looking at the sustainability of the CASE Reman programme.

PLUS we’re sticking with the sustainability theme as Volvo Construction Equipment pursues its Change Starts Here initiative.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.

The Break Fast Show #468

In today’s show: Turkish demolition contractors face impossible challenge during the post-quake clean-up; we’re rocking with Hyundai; and AMI Attachments speed up loading operations.

PLUS Dynaset is all set for ConExpo 2023.

The Break Fast Show #467

In today’s show: The power of influence; Andorra echoes to the sound of explosive demolition; and Komatsu shows off its pit loaders.

PLUS Gryb Attachments bears its teeth.

Talking Cards | with Ollie Gunns

We recently produced a film on the impending removal of Grandfather Rights under the CSCS Card Scheme. That video prompted groundworker Ollie Gunns to produce his own film for his growing social media audience.

Given that we both had such strong feelings on the subject, I reached out to Ollie with a view to recording a podcast together.

I have picked the highlights of that conversation in the episode that is about to begin.

Comment – Only the good die young

On Thursday last week, I had the sad duty of reporting that CG Comley – better known to the UK demolition fraternity as Comley Demolition – was to pull down the shutters permanently after 63 years of trading.

It is always sad to hear that a demolition company has gone under. It is doubly sad if that demolition company belongs to people you know, like and admire.

The Comley family and those that work with them are good people. Decent people. Ask anyone. They do not deserve to fall victim to the vagaries of the economy or to issues beyond their control further up the supply chain.

The company had already endured enough with the untimely passing of Richard Comley back in 2013. Richard was one of the most instantly likeable people I have met in more than 30 years in and around the demolition business.

The loss of its figurehead could so easily have spelled the end for the company. But the family rallied together and with the support of their staff managed to keep things going with Richard’s son Toby at the helm as managing director. Toby is unquestionably his own man; but he is cut from the same cloth as his father.

Even the tone of the company statement to announce the voluntary liquidation carried echoes of Richard Comley: Straightforward, honest and even taking the time to wish others well even in this darkest of hours.

I sincerely hope that Toby knows just how proud his father would have been to see him rising through the industry ranks; and handling this sorry turn of events with such dignity and honesty. I can only imagine how difficult it was for Toby, his mother Julia and sister Jen to call a halt to three generations of demolition decency.

Comley Demolition are not the first demolition firm to succumb to economic shifts and company failures further up the construction supply chain. They will not be the last. The dark clouds of recession continue to gather and – in all likelihood – we could lose more before the year is out.

But that does not -and should not – detract from the impact of Comley Demolition’s demise.

When I reported on Richard Comley’s passing back in 2013, I said that I would miss him enormously. I will say the same for the company that he honed and that his son and subsequently polished.

They say that only the good die young. That was true of Richard Comley. Sadly, it is now true of the company he bequeathed and that his family have fought so valiantly to safeguard.

The Break Fast Show #466

In today’s show: Liebherr and Thiess – a marriage made in mining heaven; CJ Charlton’s new show reel is ready; and Waitings is in the pink with JCB.

PLUS We have an exclusive sneak preview of our full-length discussion on the subject of Grandfather Rights, competence cards and a whole lot more featuring Ollie Gunns.

You can check out our entire back catalogue of shows right here.