Worktop Fabricators Federation looks forward with confidence
Members of the Worktop Fabricators Federation (WFF) are planning to work even more closely with showrooms, suppliers and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in the year ahead as the Federation moves into the next stage of maturity.
Members and sponsors attended the WFF’s Annual General Meeting at the Hard Surfaces exhibition on 7 June. The formalities included the re-election of two founding directors – Mark Mills (Stone System of London) and Andy Phillips (Affordable Granite) – and a heartfelt vote of thanks to a third: Simon Souter of LBS Stone, who stepped down from the board at the AGM for health reasons.
A lively question-and-answer session immediately after the AGM saw members reflect on a year in which membership has grown, positive engagement with the Health & Safety Executive has reached new highs and fit-for-purpose training and accreditation for fitting teams has taken some major steps towards reality.
In the course of an hour of around-the-table discussion, members agreed on the value of sharing one anothers’ experiences of HSE inspections: the industry has seen renewed activity in the last six months as the HSE has focused especially on respirable dust issues and machine guarding.
Different inspectors inevitably have slightly different priorities, and Members felt pooling experiences would bring benefits both to the fabricator community and to the HSE itself by helping benchmark what is and is not seen as acceptable in different inspections.
There was broad agreement in principle on the value of a fabricator code of practice. Though the detailed discussions suggested this might need to be in three parts:
- What is ‘good practice’ for relationships with Health & Safety inspectors,
- What is ‘good practice’ for relationships with kitchen showrooms,
- What is ‘good practice’ for relationships with suppliers.
The WFF website is being developed as more of a ‘go to’ resource, with plans to host all suppliers’ design and installation manuals in one place.
It also also intends to draw best practice from the WFF’s member discussions into permanent on-line forum resources, where members can access expertise and lessons learned without needing to scroll through endless overlapping conversations.
The other big trend under discussion was the increased blurring of the distinction between bespoke machine-cut interior surfaces and large-format ceramic tiles.
Several members already supply clients with elements intended for decorative interior walling, and it was agreed some work needs to be done to ensure whoever installs the material is fully aware of the different technical considerations needed.