News & Views

New Chair at the FPS Helm

The Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) is pleased to announce John Chick as its new Chair.

John, Business Unit Leader of Expanded Geotechnical, a Laing O’Rourke company, takes over from outgoing Chair, Steve Hadley, who steps down from the post in April 2022, having completed his two-year tenure.

John, speaking about his position as new FPS Chair, said: “I am honoured to be appointed as Chair of the FPS, an enduring specialist trade organisation which carries enormous status and respect within the geotechnical and wider construction industry.”

In addition to supporting and helping to advance the Federation’s core aims, John will be focusing on sector-issues reflecting his own interests commenting: “There is a real need for the ground engineering industry to consider how we promote ourselves as a career choice. We can offer exciting and rewarding careers, delivering projects that make a real difference to society. We don’t present ourselves enough like that. We must lead the way in developing career paths for all of our teams, including our core site operatives, who are not simply in a pipeline somewhere waiting to be turned on and off.

John added: “I would like to see the FPS members establish career pathways for people through the industry and better support them as their careers progress.

“I am also keen to promote ‘sustainability by design’ – massive advances are being made in the carbon impact of the plant and materials we use to construct what we construct. The ‘What’ we construct is lagging in places. We design to codes which often (not always) dictate overdesign. I am not advocating abandonment of factors of safety, just rational use of them. If we can use low carbon concrete in a 25-metre-long pile, let’s look at the codes again and use low carbon concrete in a 22-metre-long pile. What is designed dictates the ultimate carbon cost, not necessarily just the ‘ingredients’.

“I also think there is a need for commonality over what foundation performance data is gathered and how it’s handled from all the different sources on site, and in particular rig instrumentation and testing equipment. Why do we gather it? Where is it stored and how can it be used in the future to help re-use or repurposing?

“To keep advancing the safety agenda, I would like to do what I can to demonstrate or prove a viable alternative to some methodologies, which inherently put site workers hands, fingers and wrists at severe risk.” Again, the safety lead has been taken in many cases by suppliers, whilst contractors have simply tried to procure the safest way of complying with a flawed specification. Let’s open up and understand those specifications to see what they mean”.

John’s knowledge of the piling and foundation / specialist contractor sector is vast, having amassed more than 35-years’ experience working across the construction industry.