The Preparation Group awarded Hire Industry Trusted Supplier status

THE Preparation Group, specialists in surface preparation, removal and finishing, has achieved ‘Hire Industry Trusted Supplier’ status or HITS, the hallmark of quality, competence and safety across the UK hire industry.

It is currently one of only two companies to be both HITS accredited for supply to the Plant Hire Sector and be SafeHire certified, for customers hiring equipment direct.

The Hire Association Europe’s Supply Chain Board created HITS as an extra layer of reassurance for businesses purchasing services, that their chosen supply chain partner is fully committed to maintaining the very best practices and that its suitability as a supplier is recognised.

Kate Walshaw, The Preparation Group’s Hire Group Manager, said: "In gaining HITS, we have demonstrated our commitment to a high standard of hire operations and that we deliver across key areas of training, safety, environmental policy, R&D, production processes and data security.

"Hire customers can be assured that we run a professional service when supplying our grinders, planers, shotblasters, STG’s, hand tools and vacuums, with an emphasis on delivering full customer satisfaction.

"Having both HITS and the SafeHire Certification means that we are in a unique position and customers can be doubly assured that we are a reliable partner for hire of surface preparation, removal and finishing equipment and tools."

Two in one: Hand Grinder also becomes a Hand Chaser

THE Preparation Group offers a single phase 110 volt 9’’ Hand Grinder and 5’’ Hand Grinder that with the addition of its steel cutting shield and cutting blades, turns them into heavy duty, portable and compact Hand Chasers.

For small shallow cutting or chasing projects The Preparation Group, a leading expert in preparing, removing and finishing surfaces, provides tools ideal for projects such as chasing into walls and creating expansion joints in concrete and flooring systems to allow for substrate movement.

Additionally, the Hand Chaser’s shield ensures both a safe, efficient cutting action and attaches via ducting to an industrial vacuum, such as the company’s 202DS and M450 range, to prevent airborne dust particles.

The Group offers a range of 4’’, 4.5’’, 5’’ 7’’ and 9’’ long-life, general purpose diamond blades suitable for most standard hand or trolley mounted saws, with the laser welded segments producing optimum cutting results on concrete, asphalt, stone, plaster, masonry, brick and tiles. There are also premium blades for tough projects.

Kate Walshaw, Hire Group Manager, said: "We have 25 years’ experience in the surface preparation industry, providing the highest quality machines, tools and accessories.

"They are built to last with little or no maintenance and minimal operating costs, to maximise hire rental opportunities."

The Preparation Group manufactures and supplies high performance Surface Preparation Equipment and Tools for Hire/Cross Hire, along with complete fleet management; repairs, servicing, PAT testing, technical support and training.

Tips for setting up as a tradesperson

LIFE as a tradesperson grants a good amount of freedom, varied and enjoyable work, and the ability to hone important and sought-after practical skills.

It is truly a job for life, and that is why so many people take on apprenticeships after their time at school, which fast-tracks individuals towards a fulfilling career working a trade.

If you have just emerged from your apprenticeship and are eager to set up your self-employed career as a tradesman, you will find the following tips invaluable to get you off your feet.


You will have accumulated a lot of the gear you need as a tradesperson from your apprenticeship, but you will still need an adequate mode of transport for yourself and your tools if you are to be a mobile businessman ready to leap up in the morning and hit a job.

Take a look at your options where transport is concerned. Vans tend to be extremely expensive; it may instead be worth searching for trailer spares UK to look at cheaper options that mean you will not have to sell your day-to-day vehicle.

A small trailer full of tools is also easier to safely store in a garage away from thieves.

Name or Brand

How you proceed with the set-up of your personal brand, business name and initial publicity drive will be up to you. Plenty of tradespeople find jobs quickly and as such never pay much heed to getting their name out there; they are just a tradesperson who is in demand.

Other times, during sustained lulls, it’s useful to print and post some flyers, put up some posters, or otherwise get advertising on the internet as a registered and reliable tradesperson. Getting noticed is all you will need to get on your feet quickly.

Work Ethic

When you are starting out, you want to impress people enough that they will recommend you to friends. Work hard, efficiently and with the right attitude - with friendliness towards your clients and punctuality and humility, which will see you highly-esteemed.

Hand out business cards after completing all jobs in which your clients are happy, and they will be sure to recommend you on. A good work ethic also means you’ll be working at your very peak, which means you will be maximising those profits.

Think Business

It is not particularly in a tradesperson’s apparent remit to be business-savvy, but that is exactly what you are going to have to be when you set up and go searching for projects.

The best tradespeople seem always to have a 'job to be off to', balancing plenty of jobs at the same time, but that kind of work is derived from creating a base.

Think smart when you are just starting out. You want to have enough work in the future that you need to take on an apprentice yourself. A personal website is a smart move, as it will set you apart from other tradespeople who operate without a site.

Starting out as a tradesperson is an incredibly exciting and independent stage in life, and these tips should help you hit the ground running so that you are able to take an apprentice on yourself for some time.


PCDs are the answer for floor adhesive removal

THE Preparation Group has developed a solution for removing old, problematic floor adhesives and other sticky substances in the form of PCDs, polycrystalline diamonds that attach to a hand grinder or walk-behind grinding machine.

The Group is a leading expert in preparing, polishing and cleaning surfaces. So, to move away from traditional grinding methods, which have a tendency to generate surface heat the company's PCDs are designed to scrape rather than grind to efficiently ‘lift’ the material.

They generate less heat so all cutting edges remain clear. This also halts the rendering of the surface residue, which makes it softer and stickier.

Kate Walshaw, Hire Group Manager, said: "An example of PCDs in use is when a customer was presented with 50m2 of thick combed white adhesive that needed to be removed to install a DPM and levelling compound.

"He needed a process that would smooth and clean the surface. We recommended a triple tooth PCD plate attached to his STG450 machine and the material was quickly and effectively removed."

PCDs are available to remove thin or thick adhesives and in disc, shoe or plate format to fit a five-inch or nine-inch hand grinder, the STG450 machine, 180 and 250 grinders and all machines with plates that hold standard grinding shoes.

They are also interchangeable with regular grinding shoes so in this way, a floor can be cleared of adhesives using the PCD’s, and then the cup discs fixed to the plate ready for grinding. To save time, the PCDs can be left attached in the background.

The Preparation Group’s PCD accessories have many additional uses over and above adhesive removal, including the removal of other soft thick materials from latex, screeds and certain asphalts.

Kate added: "For Hire customers, the PCD plate adds yet another dimension to the already versatile STG450 multi-tasking machine."

For further information or a demonstration, call 01522 561460 or email: [email protected]


WATCH: Gas Safe's new video highlights carbon monoxide as the silent killer

THIS week is Gas Safety Week (17-23 September), so the organisation, Gas Safe, are highlighting how to stay gas safe by raisning awareness about the ‘silent killer’, carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas Safe Register has found people are much more likely to own a smoke alarm (76%) than an audible carbon monoxide alarm (47%) despite the fact that carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer as you cannot see, taste or smell it.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if a gas appliance is unsafe. Yet when more than 2,000 UK adults were polled, only one in five (19%) knew you can’t tell if a gas appliance is leaking carbon monoxide compared to one in three (30%) who didn’t know, or thought you could see, taste or smell carbon monoxide.

To mark the eighth annual Gas Safety Week, Gas Safe Register has created a video to demonstrate how carbon monoxide can be missed from the home safety checks.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register said: “Carbon monoxide poisoning is known as the silent killer because you can’t see it, taste it or smell it.

"Our research shows lots of people aren’t aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or how to know if their gas appliance isn’t working safely.

"This Gas Safety Week we’re helping people find out more about how to keep their homes gas safe and reminding everyone to not cut corners when it comes to getting their gas appliances checked on an annual basis.” 

Gas Safe Register recommends people get their gas appliances checked on an annual basis to ensure gas appliances are working safely and efficiently.

However one in four (24%) of the 2,000 UK adults polled don’t follow this guidance and could be using illegal gas fitters as one in ten people (11%) said they don’t get their gas appliances and don’t know if their engineer is Gas Safe registered (8%).

Gas Safe Register recommends six simple steps to keep our families safe and warm in our homes:

1.       Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer.
2.       Double check both sides of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card to know that they’re registered and qualified to work on your gas appliances.
3.       Have all gas appliances serviced and safety checked every year.
4.       Familiarise yourself with the six signs of CO poisoning; headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
5.       Check appliances for warning signs they are not working properly, e.g. black marks or stains on or around the appliance, lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones and  condensation around the room.
   Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm for a second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Show your support for Gas Safety Week 2018:
•       Follow @GasSafetyWeek and #GSW18
•       Pledge your support here.
To find out more about the dangers, preventable measures and to find a Gas Safe registered engineer call 0800 408 5500. Also find more information from Gas Safe Register on social media @GasSafeRegister, #dontcutcornerswithgas.

Snickers' comfort fabrics provide maximum mobility in new stretch clothing

SNICKERS Workwear is well known for its uncompromising approach to quality and functionality, comfort and durability.

Hi-tech fabrics and body-mapping designs ensure maximum working mobility wherever you are.

With a range of new Trousers, Jackets, Rainwear and Accessories on their way, there’s plenty of scope for every professional craftsman and craftswoman to stretch their performance on site comfortably.

The brand new comfort fabrics woven into Snickers’ latest designs deliver enhanced freedom of movement as well as improved ventilation and close quarter mobility.

Protection against snagging This also means that the clothes have a slim-tailored fit for better all-round look and protection against snagging.

So check out these newest designs – the optimal choice for craftsmen and women who need to get the job done comfortably on site.

Safety practise: A ten-step guide to avoiding falls from height by Katharina Busch

Falling from a height is THE single most common cause of occupational fatalities in the UK. Almost a third of all annual deaths in the workplace result from poor health and safety practices involving falls, slips and trips, writes Katharina Busch.

In order to reduce the number of fatalities over the coming years, companies – as well as employees – need to work closely together to create a safer, more productive and enjoyable working environment.

While regular safety training and thorough risk assessments by a professional health and safety consultancy are crucial to ensure every potential hazard is identified and taken care of, following these 10 steps can minimise the risk of accidents.

The golden rule when working at heights is to maintain three points of contact to a safety point, such as a handhold, or a ladder.

This means two feet and one hand should be holding on firmly. If both hands are needed to be free for a brief time, two feet and the body must be in touch with the safety point.

Wet, muddy, or greasy shoe soles commonly lead to slips during work. Checking soles and gloves for any residue before going to work should be a daily ritual.

Open drawers, left equipment and lunch break spills - or scrap material - can cause unforeseen risks.

Tidying up is often left until the last minute but should be taken care of immediately to avoid trips and other safety risks.

Even soft or small materials, like empty cartons, can be deadly when the person tripping is carrying the wrong tool.

Even the newest and most expensive equipment will not protect a worker from an accident if he does not know how to use it.

Ladders, elevating platforms, or rope systems require an element of training before a worker is able to use equipment safely.

Sometimes, working in bad weather conditions cannot be avoided. Especially in the rain or frost, workers need to pay special attention as to how the weather is affecting the site and equipment.

Parking lots and pavements should be clean and in good condition, whereas slippery areas need to be suspended and marked with warning signs.

Upon entering a dark space – even if you are familiar with the surroundings – turning on lights first is important to avoid running into dangerous objects.

A co-worker might have left boxes in your usual path when leaving in a hurry, which could also cause a fall.

When working at heights, taking one precaution is not enough – if it fails, death is almost certain when falling off a roof or scaffold.

Put up shielding or warning tape to secure off any dangerous edges. Secondly, make sure everyone is protected by a roof anchor system.

Using a safety net on top cannot hurt either.

If you do not feel well that day – do not push it. Working at a height is a challenging task, and should only be done when feeling well prepared, healthy and secure.

Although time is money, an occupational injury, or fatality resulting from a fall, will end up costing the business much more than just a few lost hours.

Towards the end of the day, tasks tend to be carried out in a hurry - which leads to sloppy work and potential hazards.

No matter how much time is left or how urgent something needs to be finished, never take shortcuts.

Safety should be an ongoing procedure that is part of each worker’s daily performance.

Whether it is checking all equipment for visual damage, planning the day’s schedule, assigning responsibilities, or conducting daily inspections, a good housekeeping practice can prevent many unnecessary accidents.Following a safety plan can not only save lives - the returns from a healthy working environment for a business are quite immense.

Increased productivity, a happier and more sustainable working space, and a lower turnover-rate will profit the employer just as much as the worker.

Katharina Busch is a content contributor for Arinite, a London-based health and safety consultancy which focuses on appropriate safety training, risk assessments and risk management in many different industries.

Bahco’s new tool storage system saves valuable time for aerospace engineers

GLOBAL hand-tool manufacturer Bahco worked with aerospace engineers to develop their latest ergonomic tool storage and management system to help professional users to save valuable time.

Displaying groups of tools logically in the smooth-sliding drawers of Bahco’s tough storage trolleys enables engineers and technicians to find whatever they need without delay. A ‘push’ device enables easy removal from stain-resisting foam inlays.

Utilising Bahco’s ‘configurator’ software, engineers can choose the size and colour of trolley they prefer, as well as the number of drawers and inlay format.

Colour coding in each drawer shows where a tool has been removed, helping to combat the risk of foreign object damage.

For professionals on the move Bahco offers a range of heavy-duty portable tool boxes, all with colour-coded foam inlay drawers - which are lockable for security when travelling.

Specialised Bahco ergonomic tools, ideal for working on engines or avionics, are designed to protect even the toughest hands from painful muscular and skeletal disorders.

Virtually indestructible

Bahco’s ‘toolbox’ is virtually indestructible and is designed to enable airport security staff to approve it for travel without undue delay.

It is a popular product across various sectors such as aerospace, automotive and oil/gas industries.

Precision torque tools include electronic torque angle wrenches and mechanical torque wrenches with adjustable head.

Also available are electronic torque wrenches with a fixed or reversible ratchet head torque screwdrivers with pre-set torque values, electronic torques, and angle measuring adaptors.

Draper 20V Storm Force - one battery system and three tools

SOME readers might already be familiar with the Draper 10.8v Storm Force Range reviewed in these pages a while back, writes PETER BRETT.

The launch of three 20v tools to add to these will be welcomed by those users who need a bit more power and capability – think enthusiastic amateurs and light trades.

There are lots of features to note in the range, but dealers and end users alike will appreciate the keen pricing and multiple battery options that are flexible enough to satisfy most users, and also allow options to upgrade and change as conditions change.

The tools reviewed below are a combi drill, an impact driver, and an SDS drill/hammer. Other tools available in the range are a palm sander, angle grinder, oscillating multi tool, jigsaw, circular saw and reciprocating saw.

All have the now familiar and unmistakeable Dark Blue and Black Draper livery with the up-to-date features that most users need these days. Time to look at these tools in more detail.

Combi Drill

This is the only tool in the range that comes in a custom-fitted plastic case, and it comes with everything you need to get started – drill, two 2Ah battery packs, a charger, auxiliary handle, belt hook and driver bit.

The tool is well made and has an abundance of grippy rubber around the handle and trigger area to allow for easy handling, as well as rubber protection ‘bumpers’ on the back of the casing and behind the chuck.

The 20 torque settings, along with hammer and drilling modes are selected via the usual collar behind the 13mm capacity keyless chuck. These are easy to select with a positive click stop on each.

The auxiliary handle screws are under the chuck collar in either left or righthanded positions, and the handle itself has grippy rubber too. A steel belt hook can also be mounted on left or right to suit user preferences, and the LED light on the handle base is aimed straight at the work area.

The 2Ah Li-Ion batteries take an hour each to charge. Drills don’t usually use a lot of power in drilling and screwdriving modes, so a couple of 2Ah batteries will be enough for most users - there is always the option to purchase a 4Ah battery if needed (one of the advantages of the Storm Force 20v system).

In use, the drill performs well on a range of basic drilling tasks. It has 50Nm of torque available and has a drilling capacity of 35mm diameter in wood, and 13mm in masonry or steel – enough to cover a range big enough for most users.

With two speeds selected via a sliding switch on top of the body, and a speed sensitive trigger, it is possible to control drilling speeds very accurately.

With a price point of £89.99 inc VAT, it is clear the Storm Force 20v combi is very well priced and designed to appeal – and it does.

Storm Force 20v SDS+ Rotary Hammer Drill

I rarely use hammer mode on any combi drills these days – not since SDS technology has become cheap enough to be widely available. SDS is just so much quicker and easier, that we are into no-brainer territory.

The Storm Force SDS+ rotary hammer drill is available as a kit with the combi drill and a capacious Draper Storage bag for £215.94, or as a bare tool for £59.95. In my view this represents very good value, as well as increasing the versatility of the Storm Force Kit.

The SDS+ drill follows a similar pattern to the combi above. It is light and easy to manage, as well as being comfortable to handle.

There is also ample grippy rubber to help handling and fend off the inevitable knocks that such a tool may sustain. Mounting a drill bit is as easy as sliding back the chuck collar and inserting the bit, and then seating it with a slight twist.

There is a forward/reverse switch above the trigger and a rotary switch to select hammer or drill mode. An LED light directed at the work really helps to illuminate the piece.

I used the SDS drill/hammer mostly on hard face bricks to mount window and door frames, and it performed well. It has a drilling capacity of 10mm, which is enough for most common household and light trade tasks.

Since drilling masonry is much more demanding than drilling wood, I would recommend that users get the 4Ah battery pack if possible.

Storm Force 20v Impact Driver

Like the SDS+ rotary hammer above, the impact driver is available as a bare tool for £46.14, or as part of a kit with the Impact Wrench (not reviewed) and storage case for £209.94. But for the best of all worlds the 3 Machine Fixing Kit (Combi drill, SDS+ and impact driver) is great value at £263.94

In my view, this is indeed the kit that an ambitious homebuilder or home improver would plump for, as it has the range of tools needed, as well as the possibility of adding battery packs for extra capacity.

The impact driver is no slouch – I had no trouble driving 120mm long concrete screws into hard face bricks through wooden frames. Compared to some impact drivers I have used, it is a lot quieter along with its 180Nm of torque.

It is as well-built as the other tools in the range, with a good ergonomic handle and ample rubberised protection on handle and body. An LED worklight on the base is helpful in darker areas and the 6mm chuck has a sprung, milled collar on it, making inserting and removing bits very easy.

Batteries and chargers

As with the tools there is some choice for users regarding batteries and chargers. For more demanding applications, like rotary hammer use, it makes sense to choose the 4Ah battery packs at £53.94 each rather than the cheaper 2Ah ones at £32.94.

For many users, an hour’s charging time is perfectly adequate, but more demanding work, you might want to choose the fast charger at £31.74 – not exactly bank breaking!

By the way, I particularly liked the battery status lights on the base of the battery packs – three striplights in red, orange and green give you all the info needed.

I think the Draper team have done a good job with this collection of tools.

Individually, they are sound basic tools and users will be able to put together many combinations and kits – all at very reasonable prices.

Storm Force is a really good way of getting exactly what you need, without a large price tag or unwanted tools.

Other tools available are palm sander, angle grinder, oscillating multi tool, jigsaw, circular saw reciprocating saw.

The Torque solution?

THE packaging of the Wiha speedE sends out a powerful message that the tool inside is valuable, high tech and modern. It is not just another electricians’ screwdriver, writes PETER BRETT.

In the world where electricians need efficiency and precision even on standard domestic electrical installations, the speedE aims to provide a solution.

The problem

Increasingly, manufacturers have been specifying that electrical installations need to be fixed at certain torques to ensure electrical contact is optimised and safe.

When electricians can be working on anything from a complex RCD installation - where overtorqueing can be an issue on some materials - or simply unscrewing the patress screws on a light switch, the balance between high tech and mundane practical is crucial.

Of course, the big question for potential users is ‘Did Wiha get the balance right when designing the speedE?’ This is what I examined in depth.

As mentioned before, the presentation box is designed to press home the point that the speedE is a modern precision instrument. Inside the box the impression is reinforced.


On opening the box, the first layer contains a product information booklet and the user manual – rather like opening up the box of your new phone.

Underneath that is the speedE itself – held in its custom-fitted space. A further layer is lifted to reveal a small L-Boxx that contains the batteries, charger, torque adaptor and eight driver bits in a slim plastic container.

All these are individually packed in their foam slots. Apart from the sheer practicality of having your speedE all in one place ready to pick up and go, the message is reinforced that this valuable kit should not simply be flung into a toolcase or toolbox with all the other tools.

With some tradespeople I know, this will still happen anyway and the speedE has been developed to be used like a normal screwdriver. Wiha has done their best to encourage tidiness and efficiency.

Getting going

The compact charger has a USB fitting that means it is possible to charge the speedE in a modern USB mains socket, or in a van. There is also the option to use the mains plug adaptor supplied.

Charging the Li-Ion cells takes around 75 minutes, and the two cells in my experience provide enough 'oomph' for even a demanding day’s work.

The battery is loaded into the speedE by simply unscrewing the cap on the top of the handle. Polarity is important here – the positive (+) needs to be at the bottom of the battery holder in the handle.

Once the screwcap is replaced it looks and feels exactly like the well-established Wiha VDE handle that users have become accustomed to.

Next, the optional easyTorque adaptor can be slotted into the hex socket on the handle. This adaptor is fully compliant to ensure electrical safety insulation standards. Using it extends the length of the screwdriver by about 40mm.

This is very useful when reaching into wiring boxes for example, but bits can also be inserted straight into the handle for a shorter and more controllable feel.

The little case of eight screwdriver bits has a range of tips from PZ, Phillips and SL and SL/PZ included. These are all identified by looking at the white writing in the insulation above the tips.

The writing is quite small, and I needed my glasses – but then I should be wearing them for doing detailed work anyway.

The screwdriver bits all have a hex shank and fit quite snugly onto the torque adaptor or directly into the handle with no play at all, and with no danger that the bits are going to slide out under working loads.

Using the speedE

It pays to experiment with the speedE before using it on a real job, as there are a few things to get used to. For example, there is a very tiny, but very handy LED light in the handle which is directed straight onto the workpoint.

I am very much in favour of worklights now with my ageing eyes, and this is particularly good because often electrical boxes and fittings can be hidden in dark corners and cupboards.

To activate the light, simply give the ring switch a quick turn to left or right and it will come on and stay on during any powered screwdriving activity. Once the driving stops, the light turns itself off after a few seconds.

The light also has the job of indicating when the battery needs replacing. When the battery drops below 20%, the light will be flashing/blinking.

Power screwdriving is still possible with a low battery, but when only the light works the battery has no power left but can still be used as a normal screwdriver.

The ring switch is very easy to use as Wiha have got the ergonomics just right.

Operated between thumb and forefinger, you just have to choose to tighten or loosen the screw by turning the switch to the right or left respectively.

The speedE tightens screws to a maximum of 0.4Nm, which is enough torque to ensure that plastic electrical fittings like plug boxes and junctions don’t crack. The user can then use a sensitive human hand to tighten up screws where necessary.

This is really where the ‘speed’ part of the speedE comes into play. I still come across the need to tighten long patress screws into light switches, and the speedE makes this a painless and mercifully shorter task.

However slick the operator is, he or she cannot remove or tighten screws faster than a speedE. I know, as I did some experiments with an electrician colleague - armed with the speedE, I beat him every time.

There is no doubt that this is a quality piece of kit that needs to be used to its full potential to get full value from it.

It is, at once, a standard interchangeable bit VDE screwdriver as well as a powered VDE driver - which will save time and effort when doing some of the boring jobs such as unscrewing the long screws which are a feature of some electrical components.


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