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Contractor (March 2012) Membership Has Its Benefits

01 Mar 2012

Rob Gaimster
Cement & Concrete Association (CCANZ)

By recently securing a variation to the NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) driver rest-break requirements, and also developing a standardised set of safety hand signals for communicating with concrete truck drivers on site, the NZ Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NZRMCA) has demonstrated the value of proactive trade associations.

NZRMCA BACKGROUND

Established in 1963 the NZRMCA strives to research, develop, promote and protect the interests of the ready mixed concrete industry by implementing a range of targeted initiatives. Areas of activity include ensuring members achieve and maintain a high standard of quality control, representing the industry before Government and its agencies, procuring and disseminating technical information, as well as participating in Standards development.

The NZRMCA also played a key role in establishing the New Zealand Concrete Plant Audit Scheme, an independent quality assurance programme certified to ISO 9001 and audited by Bureau Veritas Quality International that determines mix design and plant operation compliance with the requirements of NZS 3104 Specification for Concrete Production.

WORK TIME VARIATION

Working in consultation with the NZRMCA, the NZTA has developed a generic work time variation for drivers of ready mix concrete trucks (agitator trucks), undertaking time critical delivery of ready mixed concrete. The variation allows drivers who are approved by the NZTA to take more frequent but shorter rest breaks during a working day. It does not extend the number of hours available for work during a working day.

The variation applies to the drivers of agitator trucks used in a ready mixed concrete operation only. It does not apply to drivers of other vehicles that support the production or placement of ready mix concrete, such as concrete pump trucks and trucks involved in the delivery of bulk cement or aggregate.

To summarise, under the variation, within any ‘cumulative work day’ a driver must be given the following rest breaks:

  • After a maximum of 4 hours work – 15 minutes: and
  • After a maximum 7 hours work and no more than 4 hours after the previous rest break – a further 15 minutes; and
  • After a maximum of 10 hours work and no more than 4 hours after the previous rest break - a further 15 minutes; and
  • After a maximum of 13 hours work – 10 hours

Rest breaks are not to be taken in a moving vehicle associated with work, and during a rest break the driver must not be involved in any loading/cleaning/unloading process or other activity related to the task.

The variation is based on research completed by TERNZ which suggests that the current work time requirement for drivers to have a 30 minute rest break after 5½ hours work is impeding the economic productivity of the industry. The ready mixed concrete industry has put a conservative annual cost on this of $6 million. In addition, the research shows that short breaks, of 10 to 15 minutes, can be more beneficial for fatigue prevention than longer ones.

The variation is not available as of right; a written application has to be made to the NZTA. The NZTA will consider the application based on the information provided and other information it deems necessary to consider. This may include but is not limited to the safety performance of the operator employing the drivers.

SAFETY HAND SIGNALS 

Another key NZRMCA accomplishment in recent months has been the development and distribution of a set of standardised hand signals to assist clear communication with concrete truck drivers while on-site.  It is anticipated that a universally recognised set of hand signals will contribute greatly to lessening the potential for incidents involving ready mixed concrete delivery.

The NZRMCA maintains a vigilant attitude in matters of health and safety, and is committed to advancing the nationwide adoption of the new hand signals as a means to ensure the welfare of those who work alongside concrete truck operators.

With close to 50 member companies, and nearly 180 plants across the country, it is more than likely that the majority of construction jobs involving ready mixed concrete delivery will be serviced by an NZRMCA member. For this reason, the NZRMCA recommends that along with its members, all those who work in the wider building industry adopt the standard set of hand signals.

NZRMCA – THE FUTURE

As we emerge from the recession and prepare for an intense period of construction around Christchurch and Auckland, the NZRMCA will continue to engage with all stakeholders to identify and address issues of concern, and assist in facilitating outcomes that benefit its members and the wider building and construction industry.

For further information on the NZTA’s work time variation, including applications forms, as well as the safety hand signals, visit the NZRMCA website – www.nzrmca.org.nz

Article appeared in Contractor magazine.