New Federation of Piling Specialists chairman Philip Hines talks to GE about the vital role of the organisation and his safety aims for his two-year tenure.
Safety initiatives and new guidance have helped to significantly improve safety in the piling sector in recent years but new Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) chairman Philip Hines is looking to drive further advances. In addition to his day job as Soletanche Bachy UK group managing director, Hines hopes to use his two year term as chairman to push harm reduction as well as maintain the federation’s momentum on other technical issues.
“The FPS is very important in our industry,” he says. “It is a strong organisation that gives us a strong voice. Together we can make a difference.”
Soletanche Bachy UK managing director Philip Hines
Hines has been on the executive committee for four years before taking up the role of chairman earlier this month from Bam Nuttall people and culture director Alasdair Henderson.
During his time on the committee, Hines has been impressed by the input of the industry to drive it forward and mobilise both companies and individuals to make a difference.
“I am proud to become chairman but it is definitely a challenge,” he says. “There are a number of key issues that we need to deal with and take forward.”
One of the areas that Hines hopes to tackle during his two-year tenure is harm reduction.
“Manual handling of segmental augers and drill rods are high risk activities,” he says. “Such work means that injuries to hands and finger make up a large proportion of lost time incidents.
Safety is a real passion for Hines and he has been involved with the FPS’s safety committee for a number of years.
“Development of the standard for pump blow outs has been a major success as was the development of machinery guarding with the cooperation of the Health and Safety Executive to become an industry requirement,” he says.
Nonetheless, Hines believes that the industry now needs to get similar requirements in place for manual handling.
“Occupational health is another area that we are working on. There is a growing awareness of the importance of wellbeing and the need for common standards and the FPS has a role to play in helping to develop and set these standards for the piling industry.”
Hines says that the FPS will also be continuing to work on improving technical standards.
“The FPS has been working closely with the European Federation of Foundation Contractors on the tremie guide for concrete over the last few years and is expected to be published soon,” explains Hines. “We worked closely on the development to ensure the guidance was appropriate to UK practice.”
Learning and development is another area where Hines intends to continue the work of his predecessors.
“We have always had training standards and guides but with the advent of major projects such as HS2 there is a need to have a more common approach and a wider focus,” he says.
“We also need to make sure our industry is attractive to new recruits, as well as maintaining and improving the skills of our existing workforce. Tough conditions on site and competition with other industries means that piling is less attractive to younger recruits but technology will play a part in improving the attractiveness of the industry. The FPS needs to understand how this can be used to the industry’s advantage.”
The FPS is growing too with associate members bringing rig manufacturers and consultants into the mix.
“The broader membership means that the FPS is more engaged with the wider ground engineering industry,” says Hines. “This makes is easier for the organisation to make effective change.”
Hines hopes that the associate membership will continue to grow from the current membership of 19. One area where he would like to see more involvement is with reinforcement manufacturers.
“Involvement of the reinforcement industry would enable us to create common standards for fixing that would be more effective for suppliers and improve overall operation on site,” explains Hines.
While the FPS is focusing on improving the piling industry, it also looks at how wider issues affect the market. One area of concern for Hines is Brexit. “Brexit has created uncertainty in the market and it is difficult to get job started at the moment,” he says. “The collapse of Carillion has also been unsettling and there are also concerns about other major players and we need to be aware of these challenges and how they affect our members.”
Hines believes he has some broad experience to bring to the role of chairman and give perspective to the wider industry issues from his career that has involved working in the UK and overseas over the last 30 years.
In his current role with Soletanche Bachy, Hines oversees the work of Bachy Soletanche, Roger Bullivant, Soil Engineering Geoservices and Vibro Menard in the UK. According to Hines, this gives him a clear view of the challenges faced in the major infrastructure and commercial project market as well as the issues small to medium sized schemes in the UK. Soletanche Bachy’s UK business also covers a broad spectrum of techniques and skills that provides oversight into ground investigation and ground improvement markets too.
“The role gives me full vision of the industry,” he says. And it is this vision that he hopes to bring to bear on the FPS’ five targets of harm reduction, occupational health, technology and standards, learning and development and commercial good practice.