BURGON's BLOG: Watersafe is an exciting opportunity

Published:  06 March, 2012

Robert Burgon, CEO of SNIPEF and a past chairman of the World Plumbing Council, shares some thoughts on plumbing in the second in his series of regular blogs with HVPmag.

'Enthusiasm', 'optimism' and 'excitement' are all words which can be associated with an initiative currently being pursued by a range of organisations associated with the plumbing industry.

'Approved Plumber' under the Water Fitting Regulations (Bylaws in Scotland) is a status which many plumbing businesses have achieved in recent years under one of a number of separate schemes approved by government ministers. In reality, however, not a lot of people know what that means.

Over the last few months, a group of the existing scheme providers, which includes industry organisations SNIPEF, APHC and CIPHE, along with several water companies, have been working together to create a new, overarching approach to these separate approval schemes.

Using the working title 'WaterSafe Installers Scheme', the plan is that qualified plumbing businesses which meet the scheme criteria can be part of a national scheme which gives customers assurances that plumbing work will be done in compliance with the Regulations/Bylaws.

I am well aware that many installers are fed up with the sheer number of approval schemes they are expected to join but I believe that WaterSafe is different and has the potential to make a huge difference to our industry.

Good progress has been made in establishing the scheme criteria and consideration is being given to issues such as branding and marketing (absolutely critical to the success of such a scheme). With support from the UK water industry and the plumbing installation industry, it is believed this scheme will greatly reduce the amount of non-compliant and unsafe plumbing work which is presently being carried out.

It has been said that WaterSafe has the potential to do for water safety what CORGI (and now GasSafe) have done for gas safety. There is no doubt that competence levels and awareness of the need for safe working have risen dramatically in relation to gas work.

Non-compliant plumbing work does not, perhaps, get the media coverage which is given to non-compliant gas work. However, the dangers to the public of poorly installed or maintained plumbing systems are significant and improvements to the industry are greatly overdue.

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