The Floodex and National Drainage Show at the Excel, London, saw the culmination of a project that the National Association of Drainage Contractors (NADC) have been involved in for the last nine months: the launch of DrainSafe, a new assurance scheme developed for the wastewater industry.
DrainSafe is a new quality marque aimed at providing consumers of all types a method of recognising a high standard drainage contractor. It can be likened to WaterSafe and Gas Safe in that it provides a form of assurance to the end user that a drainage contractor is competent and qualified to certain criteria using a third party approval system. In effect, they are safe to use.
The Safe part of DrainSafe also applies to the drainage contractor’s relationship with safe working practice. For DrainSafe approval, the minimum requirement of any operative is safety training alongside approved training in their particular skill sets. Contractors will then be working safely with regard to health and the environment in an entirely sustainable way. We saw this as essential and to that end a safety, health and environmental awareness (SHEA) training scheme was created specifically for drains and sewers. SHEA certification is Energy and Utility Skills registered and is partnered with CSCS to allow drainage and sewerage industry workers access to construction sites for the purposes of utilities work, without the need for a separate CSCS card.
DrainSafe is a project created by the NADC, primarily inspired by Mark Jarvis with the aid of a small project team administered by Thornby Associates. We worked together to establish the requirements of an assurance scheme including: oversight, administration, acceptable qualifications and costs. The scheme is not for profit; the contractor fees are used to cover administration costs, any excess being used for scheme promotion or improvement.
The project team organised roadshows at an early stage to find out what NADC drainage contractors thought of the concept and to find out what they could add or what they thought required revision. Other primary stakeholder engagement included presentations to water companies, the Environment Agency and Local Authority Building Control.
The general feedback was that in an industry that suffers from the occasional rogue contractor, the use of a third party approval scheme with a standard code of practice was a sensible plan. Other points raised included – does the scheme involve third party arbitration in the event of a dispute? It does, the initial arbitration process will be referral to three Independent members of the DrainSafe Committee, and an Ombudsman will be appointed in due course. And, there was also a concern that any scheme of this nature must be rigorously policed to ensure its credibility. This aspect was carefully considered and DrainSafe accreditation is being administered by a third party to ensure the scheme has teeth. As an additional bonus, the administration process will also inform contractors when their training certification requires renewal.
On the day, the presentations were excellent and well attended with the NADC/DrainSafe stand receiving a substantial amount of traction. A number of companies even signing up there and then. Of course they won’t be able to use the DrainSafe logo until we have checked their credentials, but we would anticipate this being a widely recognised scheme within the next few years.