Words from the IACDS President

Published 29/12, 2016 at 13:13

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.

The full fall-out of what Brexit and the Trump presidency will mean to industry has not been felt yet. What it means is we go into 2017 with a good deal of uncertainty. We have 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.

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 US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 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 US.

That said I have spoken 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 had just picked up a newspaper or switched on a TV.

Training in the industry is reaching strong levels, the Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association in the US  graduated 115 people from its four training classes at World of Concrete 2016, which was an 83% 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.

I understand the forthcoming World of Concrete, will be the biggest and best attended, so it is all very positive as we approach the New Year.

That is just one of the events that is in our calendars for 2017 and is a great way to get the year started in January.

We also have the 45th CSDA Annual Convention and Tech Fair in Puerto Rico in March, followed by the International Association of Concrete Sawers and Drillers 2017 Annual Convention in Vienna, Austria, in May.

As I look back on 2016 from an industry point of view, it has proved again, what I have always believed  that networking, that being part of associations and groups with people from the same sector is good for business. The knowledge we can share and the things we can achieve together make the industry much stronger than if we all work in isolation.

The key point for the IACDS is that we are moving from being behind the industry - the IACDS was an organisation to talk about the issues - to become the think-tank for the future, moving ourselves to the front-line of what will drive the industry forward.

To do this, we are working on several strategic lines, which include visibility (website, social networks and communications), recognition of professionalism (Diamond Award), standardisation (anchoring and tolerances) an active network (video conferences, supporting meetings/events of the National Associations) and representative (we’ve made moves to regain the Austrian and Italian associations).

We want 2017, therefore, to be the year in which we start to grow membership of contractors. As this was approved at the General Assembly, we will be making a concerted effort to attract the top three or top five of each country and get them involved in the IACDS as members.

This is very relevant, as it will allow IACDS to be more representative, to have more resources and also to get past the image that this is a club for associations and suppliers.

In the UK, Build UK has seen the biggest companies and the smallest supply chain contractors come together in a way never dreamed of before and, while you can never expect it to be perfect, it means the whole of construction can work in tandem and find solutions rather than problems.

I hope that 2017 will see these ties strengthened and that we can all continue to work together in a way that benefits everyone within our wonderful industry.

I look forward to seeing you all again over the course of 2017 and as ever, please feel free to contact me if you need any help with any issues you may face, no matter how large or small.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year.

Julie White, President of IACDS

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