With 22 trainees enrolled, the 2019 NSW CICA Traineeship program was the most successful yet.
During December’s CICA NSW Awards Night, chairman, Jeff Wilson had this to say about the Trainee of the Year.
“Our winner is gaining the fundamentals and understanding of how a crane operates and how real-life work sites function to ensure he is maintaining the best possible safety for himself and others around him.
“He now visually identifies all rigging components and superstructure components of our cranes. He demonstrates dogging duties including hand signals, whistles and two-way radio communications and has an understanding of procedures in setting up and packing up the cranes on site.
Cranes and Lifting magazine spoke to NSW Trainee of the Year, Fullers Mobile Cranes’ Christopher Hull.
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“I’ve always had an interest in big machines. As a little boy, I’d make my mum pull the car over so I could watch a construction site in action. I loved watching the various types of construction equipment, including the cranes, do their thing.
“When I finished year 12, a friend of the family, was working for a crane company and she thought I’d suit the industry. She introduced me to Larry Fuller, and it all happened from there and I moved straight into the apprenticeship,” Hull said.
“It’s hands on. I’m on site and in the yards learning from experienced colleagues who keep an eye on my work and give me tips all the time. I work on different job sites, on different cranes and with different people. It’s challenging but that’s how you learn. Then once every two months, I go to TAFE to study for a week where I study for my tickets,” he said.
From Hull’s first day, Larry and Kane Fuller have encouraged the hands-on approach.
“They sent me straight to site with a good man called Paul Didovitch who started teaching me ‘right off the bat’. I was very green and new to everything, and it took a while to get used to the various terms, but I’m here today knowing what I know, and I’m grateful for it.
“I’m excited about the cranes and the crazy lifts we do with them. I love getting to site and seeing what has to be lifted and work out how we’re going to lift it to where the client wants. We’re always moving around with work and no two days are the same., which I like. I enjoy learning about the different cranes and what they can do, there’s so much variation in the work and I love it,” Hull said.
In the yard, Hull helps with maintenance, cleaning up, making sure the cranes are clean and tidy and booms greased. All the basic tasks which help an apprentice learn about the business from the bottom up. Safety is the key focus in everything Hull is taught.
“I realise that cranes are massive and expensive pieces of equipment and there are no short cuts in terms of safety. I’ve been in trouble a of couple of times and on both occasions, it was my fault. My colleagues corrected me and there was no harm done but it reinforced the need to do the basics right. Now I always wear a hard hat, high vis long pants and long-sleeved shirt, safety glasses and gloves and I always have a whistle around my neck. They might be little things, but they make all the big difference,” he said.
The traineeship also provides for studying at TAFE for various tickets which isn’t too arduous says Hull.
“With my dogging ticket, I received all the booklets and studied the week before the exam. I then went to TAFE where we studied some more which included practical training and on the last day, we sat the exam. The next exam will be rigging, and I’ll go through the same process and after that, it’s C6 for Cranes and crane operation which will be terrific
“Right now, I’m happy with dogging, I love the variable nature of the work and being outside on site. I do jump in the crane now and again but I’m young and I like to move around, so dogging is perfect for me right now,” he said.
According to Hull, the mentoring from colleagues has been really important and in return he’s prepared to give 100 per cent effort.
“The Fullers team is a lot older than me and they’ve been in most situations many times over. For them to go out of their way to teach and mentor me helps so much and they’re helping to build and mould me which is amazing. They don’t accept laziness; they don’t accept slacking off on the job and they don’t accept a 50 per cent attitude, they expect a 100 per cent all of the time. If I’m tying a sling, they don’t want me to cut corners, they want it tied the way they’ve showed me and of course, I’m going to do that,” he said.
Hull reflects on his generation and explains why the crane industry should work harder to attract youngsters like him.
“In my opinion, the problem with many in my generation is they’ve switched off, they want to do half-hearted stuff like focusing on social media, PlayStation and cutting corners for easy outcomes. My mum was very strict with me and I have the mindset of wanting to achieve and do well. I’m not interested in the drug culture, which is so prevalent, it doesn’t get you anywhere. I’m watching friends go down the hill whilst I’m working hard to get up it; it’s a very different mindset,” he said.
“But there are plenty of motivated people my age who would thrive in the industry and I think it’s a case of crane companies continuing to look and be prepared to give the right person a chance. I’m so grateful to Larry and Kane for this opportunity. They’ve been really hard on me, but I’ve never taken it to heart and I’ve always seen it as them wanting to mould me into an asset for their business, not a liability. On the day I started, they wanted to see me go home safe and sound every day and for that to happen I have to be switched on,” Hull said.