Wincanton employee Ryszard Janus was crowned RTITB Operator of the Year 2013 at a sparkling gala dinner to celebrate the competition’s Grand Final.
The Grand Final was the culmination of a year-long search to find the best fork lift truck operator in the UK and Ireland in what has been the third run of RTITB’s increasingly popular competition.
Beginning in November of last year and sponsored by Toyota Material Handling UK, TNT Express Services UK and Ireland, and Calor Gas Ltd., the competition started with an online theory test that was open to some 300,000 RTITB accredited lift truck operators.
The top 40 entrants progressed to live heats held at IMHX 2013 in March at Birmingham's NEC. During a week of hard competition, 40 qualifiers were whittled down to the 10 Grand Finalists who met to compete for the crown at Friday’s prestigious competition conclusion.
During a day of gruelling tests that challenged their theory and knowledge skills, along with their operational abilities, each of the 10 finalists showed extraordinary depth of knowledge and skill, competing in difficult circumstances and under very close public scrutiny.
Attended by guests from across the warehousing and logistics industry, including the RHA, FTA and CILT, the Grand Final proved a resounding success as it celebrated the skills and dedication not only of the operators themselves but also their trainers and employers. The event also provided the perfect forum for individuals to meet, network and discuss the issues of the day.
In an address to those assembled at the dinner, Jane Willis, director of the HSE’s cross-cutting interventions directorate, thanked RTITB and its sponsors for taking the lead with such an impressive event, and congratulated the finalists for their achievements. During her speech, Mrs Willis went on to stress the importance of events like this for highlighting the dangers of materials handling and the vital role of training.
“Last year, 20 men didn’t return home from work because they were killed in accidents involving workplace transport. This year the figure currently stands at six. We owe it to the families of those men to improve standards and safety.”
For Laura Nelson, operations director at RTITB, the Operator of the Year competition is the perfect way to recognise and celebrate the hard work and commitment that accredited organisations put into operating standards and safety. Speaking during the competition, she said: “The tireless dedication of our accredited organisations and their commitment to safety standards are the reasons why this industry has such skilled operatives.”
Laura added: “This is as much their competition as it is ours, because without them there would be no Operator of the Year.”
In an emotional speech, an elated and somewhat bewildered Ryszard Janus said that he was over the moon. “I want to thank RTITB and the sponsors for putting on this competition, for allowing me and the other finalists to show our skills.”
Ryszard was joined on stage by his wife, Dorota, to receive his prize, a brand new Toyota Aygo. As an additional award this year, RTITB also presented the Operator of the Year’s training organisation and employer with trophies, which went to Ceva Logistics Ltd-B&Q and Wincanton respectively.
With the 2013 event such a resounding success, and with the curtain barely down on celebrations, RTITB has already begun planning for 2016 when the Operator of the Year competition will make its return at IMHX.