Back care programme stretches Balfour Beatty workers on site

I am the Machine at new campus

Back care programme stretches Balfour Beatty workers on site

I am the Machine – a Forth Valley College developed back care and stretching programme – was introduced to Balfour Beatty employees working on the new campus recently.

A team consisting of lecturers Michelle Hamilton and Louise Banks and students Katarzyna Slapek and Jay Purcell from the College’s Care, Health and Sport Department and backed by FVC’s Clerk of Work from the new build Tony Sweeney and Estates Development Manager Gordon Berry, visited the Middlefield site on Friday 22 June to deliver the 20 minute session to around 15 staff.

The ‘I am the Machine’ back care programme - a team effort between the staff and students of the Departments of Care, Health and Sport and Construction – was recently shortlisted in the Best Teaching and Learning Initiative category of the 2018 TES FE Awards. The initiative aims to change the mind-set of tradesmen and women so they recognise that pre-work warm-up and post-work cool-down - along with back care exercises - are vital to reduce the amount of back or joint injuries to Modern Apprentices (MAs) and young people working in labour intensive industry. 

Developed jointly by Sports and Fitness Lecturer Michelle Hamilton with the help of Construction colleagues Peter Nally, Colin Scott, Graeme Williamson and Kevin Bonner – the scheme has now been successfully rolled out to bricklaying, painting and decorating MAs and full-time students.  In addition to this ‘I am the Machine’ workshops has been delivered to staff throughout the college and to staff at NHS Forth Valley (Bellsdyke).

Katarzyna (31) from Falkirk who has just completed a Pathway to Fitness and Exercise course and is progressing onto and HNC in Fitness, Health and Exercise in August, said: “It has been beneficial to get this experience delivering the programme at the new campus site. Employees in all industries should realise how important it is to do basic stretching to relax the body and relieve stress.”

Jay (20) from Dunnipace, who has just completed his HNC in Fitness, Health and Exercise and is moving on to the HND, said: “It was a great learning experience for us and hopefully it is something the Balfour Beatty employees can continue to use in the future.”

FVC Sports Lecturer, Michelle Hamilton, said: “It was great to take the ‘I am the Machine’ programme to the staff on the Middlefield site. We hope they took a lot out of it and they can incorporate it into their daily work routine. We are confident it will help them maintain a healthy back and improve any existing issues they may have. It was good to get the first session in before the students finished for the summer and we hope we can pick up with more sessions when they come back in August.”

Stewart MacPhail, Project Director at Balfour Beatty, said: “I am the Machine is a great example of innovative thinking from Forth Valley College, which has the potential to make a positive impact on our workforce. At Balfour Beatty, safety is our license to operate and this initiative takes our commitment to Zero Harm a step further, by supporting our workforce to avoid occupational injuries and helping them keep fit.”

The new campus - which is earmarked for completion in November 2019 - will complete FVC’s ambitious estates programme which saw their £21 million Alloa Campus opened in 2011 and their £29 million Stirling Campus opened a year later. The Scottish Government is investing £65 million in the construction of the new campus.

The new Falkirk HQ will focus heavily on training facilities designed for science and technology, engineering, sport and healthcare, and will also have state-of-the-art provision and capabilities to accommodate a wide range of FVC’s courses.


Do what I do
Jay on the case
Katazyna takes over
Well worth it
Reaching out
Stretch it out
Position of authority
Leg up
Hands and knees
Good effort


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email