Onsite assessment bolsters wastewater technician training

Posted: Wednesday 3rd July 2019

British Water’s enhanced qualification includes live observation.

An overhaul of British Water’s wastewater treatment technicians’ training means plant operatives will now undertake onsite assessment to complete the course. The requirement has been made more rigorous to raise standards and incorporate larger plant sizes, up to 1,000 population equivalent (PE).

Trainees for the British Water Wastewater Treatment Plant Accredited Service Technicians qualification will now be visited at the workplace by an assessor. Candidates need to show competence carrying out maintenance on septic tanks, biological filtration plants, rotating biological contactors, activated sludge plants, submerged aerated filters, biological aerated flooded filters and pumping stations, with one of these assessed by direct observation.

Pre-requisites for certification are recognised qualifications in Electrical Safety and Working in Confined Spaces along with completion of EU Skills’ Safety Health & Environmental Awareness (SHEA) Water programme.

Dr Mar Batista, technical manager, British Water says, “There are a large number of small sewage treatment plants of differing designs, sizes and ages across the country. The UK’s environmental regulators are showing increasing concern about the potential pollution these plants could cause. The primary way of preventing pollution is to ensure plants are properly maintained and serviced.

“British Water’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Focus Group has been working on updates for 10 years and we are delighted to have agreement from all stakeholders. Technicians completing the course will have a thorough knowledge of the types, theory and operation of small sewage treatment plants.”

Craig Finbow, chief executive of Owls Hall Environmental, is vice-convenor of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Focus Group and chaired the technicians training working group. He said, “A lot of hard work has gone into developing the new training for wastewater treatment technicians. This is an important milestone in raising the bar on service and maintenance across the UK.”

Daryll Garavan, training manager - confined spaces, water and environmental at Develop Training said, “Expanding the training requirement for wastewater treatment plant operatives will reduce the risk of health & safety and pollution incidents. We are looking forward to putting our first trainees through the new course.”

An estimated 400 people will need to retrain when their current accreditation expires and new recruits will do the course straight away. Mar Batista says that even for those working in the industry but not undertaking daily maintenance, taking the taught course will help them better understand the issues faced by the industry.

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November 2019

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