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technical competence
Proving technical competence is now a must as Grandfather rights don't wash anymore

Will you and your staff be technically competent in time?

You may think you know what you’re doing but the government aren’t convinced. This time next year, if you operate a site in England or Wales and haven’t passed the test to prove your technical competence, then you could risk being closed down. The Environment Agency (EA) are currently drafting up their guidelines for what will happen if you haven’t complied by the end of February 2012. This may sound a fair way off, but this test isn’t as easy as it sounds and you and your managers need to be prepared.

It’s worth taking a quick look at what has happened so far. After all, not so long ago, we could all claim Grandfather rights when it came to this subject. But, with the introduction of environmental permitting regs in 2007, the old waste management licence was replaced by the environmental permit and with it, any grandfather rights were thrown to the wind. It hasn’t all been bad. Luckily the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association (MVDA) has fought your corner hard on this one. Firstly, the requirement to prove technical competence should have been in place by March 2011 but MVDA convinced the Environment agency that this was not enough time for all in the industry to achieve the standard and the deadline was put back to next year. Secondly, they argued that the fact we already run our yards should mean we can sit the test without the compulsion to attend a very expensive and prolonged training course, as under the new regs no value of previous knowledge would be taken into account.

Your technically competent management would have been required to attend a course on which they would be required to pass 4 modules in environmental management, with a further 2 modules to be completed within the following year. Alternatively, you could arrange for nominated trainers to carry out the training at your premises. This would cost at least £2,000 per person. Your trained management would then be deemed technically competent to run your site but two years down the line they would need to prove it all again. MVDA proposed a solution, arrived at between themselves and the Chartered Institute of Waste Management / WAMITAB to demonstrate technical competence and thereby compliance, that would be a computer based multiple choice test. This was accepted and there are approximatley 150 locations around the country where the test can be sat. The cost is currently £105.

There is a third and final achievement from the MVDA on this issue. They recognised that although there was not the need for the £2,000 training course, there was a definite need for training in some aspects of technical competence if dismantlers were going to pass the new test. After discussions with David Wren of Astbury Wren (who operate an insurance scheme for MVDA members), AVIVA about the subject, a one day seminar was developed to solve this issue. You may also be wondering why an insurance company such as AVIVA is interested. After all, this is legislation, not an insurance issue, but this just serves to show how interests can overlap, and from the insurers point of view, a technically competent operator is far less likely to cause an incident that affects their insurance.

Although grandfather rights are no longer legally acceptable to demonstrate technical competence, as we mentioned earlier, they are, thanks to the MVDA accepted as a demonstration that you have the necessary knowledge to sit the test, negating the need for the course and modules mentioned earlier. Be aware that your technically competent management must have sat and passed this test before the end of February, 2012 to maintain continuing competence. Due to the importance of this test, the Seminar has been made available to the whole industry at a cost of £250 per delegate. MVDA members get a discounted price of £150 until September 1st this year. Don’t leave this until the last minute as you may well find the seminars and the test places are booked up, and come next March, you could find yourself in trouble!

James Draper
AVIVA’s risk management consultant, James Draper understands the benefits of operating in a competent manner.
The test can be a little daunting but you will already have the bulk of the knowledge required from operating your business. The need for the seminar is to make you aware of areas you may need to improve and also to guide you towards the form and type of questions you will be required to answer to pass your compliance test. Currently there is a requirement to resit the test every two years and the MVDA is asking for this to be reconsidered as they believe a period of four years is more realistic as changes in legislation and the processes the industry operates are more in line with a longer time frame. At the time of writing there is no agreement for this but MVDA tell us they will continue to inform and educate where possible those in power to ensure a realistic and fair framework for the industry.

I think MVDA deserve a pat on the back for what they have achieved here. They have gained us a year’s grace, they have saved us all a couple of grand and with any luck will get a more sensible time frame for resitting the test. Not bad for a £500 annual subscription. I am giving them this plug because I know they operate on a shoe string and the more of us who are members, the more clout they have, and the better for us all in the future. If you want more details about joining the MVDA then please click the link and forward your contact details.

If you would like details of the seminar, then click here to email your details. Please include name, trading name, address, contact details and the number of places you are interested in. Currently all available places are booked up but further seminars are planned around the country for Autumn. Places are limited so please register your interest early to avoid disappointment.


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