BALI-NCF, the grounds maintenance industry's National Contractors Forum, and STIHL GB joined forces recently to deliver best in class hedge trimmer training to 30 contractor companies at four land-based colleges across the UK.
Safety is at the top of BALI-NCF's agenda and deems creating a safe working environment for the industry's workforce as critical.
In 2017 BALI-NCF member organisations shared accident statistics for the first time to determine the main causes of the most frequently occurring accidents. This collaboration highlighted incorrect hedge trimmer use as a major risk to safety, galvanising BALI-NCF to develop the necessary training to provide technical advice and safety guidance.
Using the 'train the trainer' approach, the experts from STIHL instructed more than 200 on-site trainers, who left the sessions with the training materials and knowledge to deliver the operator training course to their own teams, potentially enabling thousands of the UK's grounds maintenance workforce to carry out hedge trimming more safely.
The programme provided a combination of classroom teaching and hands-on practical hedge trimmer use. Topics covered included correct PPE, the effect of noise and vibration exposure, refuelling, good work practices, and how to make both horizontal and vertical cuts.
Feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive verifying the initial success of the project.
Phil Jones, Chairman of the National Contractors Forum said "there is a real will amongst the NCF members to work together to reduce workplace injuries across our industry. Our goal is for every one of our employees to return safely home each day. We have made a good start in delivering on this, through the expert training delivered by Stihl GB. The ultimate measure of success, however, will be a significant and sustained reduction in injuries within our industry"
Caroline Wallace, Commercial Learning & Development Manager, Stihl GB said "'STIHL was delighted to be offered the opportunity to help raise the standards of safe use of hedge trimmers in the industry."
The half-day sessions took place at four of the UK's leading land based centres of excellence; Sparsholt College (South), Harper Adams University (Midlands), Oatridge College (Scotland) and Myerscough College (North).