In my last column, I outlined a number of the approaches and activities to drive innovation that the industry and IQ have undertaken over the years. Rapid advances in technology, and its application to what we do, means we are now facing unprecedented changes in the way we work.
The start of a new year is traditionally a time for looking forward. A time filled with hope, excitement and positivity. A time when we look for new possibilities and fresh opportunities. This year, as we look forward at what these might mean for our industry, I would like us to reaffirm our primary desire that we as individuals and all of our colleagues are able to arrive home at the end of every shift safely.
It is a great pleasure to be writing my first column as President of the Institute. I would like to thank Miles for his commitment to the Institute over many years and in particular the last two years as President. He has fulfilled the role with great energy and passion for our work which I intend to continue and build on.
We all know that health, safety and well-being are the top priority for our industry and those working within it. What we know also is that 2017 represented the worst year for fatalities in five years.
For all those who joined us at this year’s Centenary Conference at The Belfry, it was an extra-special occasion marking 100 years of the Institute of Quarrying. Conference itself provided much food for thought about the softer issues affecting our industry – from men’s health to sustainability. Later in the day, our Centenary Dinner delivered a fantastic evening of achievement awards, inspirational guest speakers, fine dining and great company.
We are living in changing times. When the country voted to leave the European Union, as a nation and an industry we entered into a period of uncertainty, both in terms of our economy and where the UK sits in the broader European landscape.
We are now halfway through our centenary year. The focus of the celebrations has been to demonstrate and showcase how far both the mineral extractives industry and the Institute of Quarrying have come over that time. As an industry we have progressed in so many different respects, from employee training and development to health and safety standards and environmental awareness. The activities and events we have already held along with the ones yet to come are not just about reflecting on the progress and development of the industry, but also to look ahead and outline our vision and goals for the next 100 years.
The minerals extractives sector plays an instrumental role in our everyday lives, yet quarrying and related value-added activity has an impact on the environment that requires active management. Environmental issues represent a key priority for professionals in our sector and there are many programmes and schemes in place which not only work to reduce the negative impacts, but also add significant natural capital to the industry’s balance sheet.