Since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold NADC has been focused on meeting the needs of members and indeed the wider industry in these difficult times. When the lockdown was first announced the first thing that we did was to establish the status of sewer and drainage contractors as essential workers which, apart from the recognition of the importance of our industry, had practical implications such as contractors’ children being able to continue going to school. We then quickly moved on to issuing information on the all the various support schemes that had been made available from Central Government and other sources as well as guidance on operating as safely as possible for those contractors continuing to work during the lockdown. In the interests of the common good for our industry, these were not limited to members and were widely shared, particularly across social media. The next step was to lobby Government on a variety of issues, and one of those has been in respect of the treatment of small business people that operate through company structures that provide income through a combination of wages and dividends. It seemed unfair that people taking advantage of tax efficient structures, often on the advice of accountants and banks, and in the full knowledge and acceptance of Government, should not be properly supported by the various schemes for businesses. Joining up with many other lobbying parties we were successful in getting the Government to put in place the 100% Government backed Bounce Back Loan scheme which has provided a vital and quick source of funds for businesses to help manage through these difficult times. This was a key feature of an updated bulletin on the support schemes that are available to businesses, that also included other changes and new schemes. Once again this update was made available across the industry not just to NADC members. To look at the support bulletins or the safety guidelines please go to the NADC website – www.nadc.org.uk In addition we have been able to help some members with locating PPE sources which has at times been very difficult for some contractors.
Our latest lobby to Government (once again alongside other industries) is to change the furlough arrangements such that people can be moved in and out of the scheme one week at a time rather than at a minimum of three weekly intervals.
Throughout all of this we have been able to sustain a full secretariat resource for members to contact us with questions, problems and any other issues - and as ever we do all we can to help and support our membership.
But it doesn’t stop there.
We have also spent productive time on moving forward with the NADC training and qualification capability and we report elsewhere in this edition of Drain Trader on the forthcoming launch of a new SHEA Sewer and Drainage qualification which delivers a CSCS card to successful candidates. We are also accelerating the development of other courses and qualifications. We have set in train the potential creation of a new app that would provide nationwide information on hydrants (including over time those that are not working!) as well as treatment centres. Obviously the app would help greatly in identifying the location of the nearest available hydrant or treatment plant for members. in addition NADC is creating a safety and incident log (with contributions being held anonymously) that will help over time in working with industry suppliers to improve safety features to vehicles and equipment.
So what about DrainSafe?
Well this is where the pandemic has been a source of great frustration for NADC. As you will read elsewhere in this edition, we have had no choice but to delay the launch for a number of reasons. It does not mean that we have stopped work on the scheme and the positive aspect is that the delay will allow for even more extensive engagement and consultation with member (and non-member) contractors and stakeholders across the board.
Finally we are delighted that membership of the Association has continued to grow despite the concerns so many must have due to the pandemic. But perhaps the value of industry representation comes to the fore in such circumstances. If you are interested in joining us please e-mail email@example.com or call 0800 0933507
NADC training and qualifications
Covid-19 has of course had a huge impact on NADC training and qualifications as all classroom based courses have had to be cancelled. This is particularly frustrating for all those candidates that had booked or were planning to book on the courses that had been advertised across the country. Whilst it has been possible to arrange essential training on-site for some larger organisations (please call Jayne on 0800 0933507 if you are interested) – always observing Government and Public Health guidance on social distancing and washing and sanitisation (and the use of PPE as appropriate), this does not meet the needs of the great majority of contractors.
The NADC Training Committee has spent much time looking at the options for providing on-line training, but with an industry that is so hands on it has been deemed inappropriate to in any way dilute the practical content of the different taring courses. NADC is engaging with the Government on whether the easing of restrictions that are now being implemented might enable training to resume subject to controls that are clearly articulated in approved guidance.
The suspension of training has also been a contributing factor in having to postpone the launch of DrainSafe due to the competence requirements laid down by the scheme. Clearly if contractors are not able to train and achieve the relevant qualifications they will not be able to meet the competency requirements in a timely fashion.
In the meanwhile we have not been standing still, and the announcement of a new SHEA Sewer and Drainage qualification that provides a CSCS card for successful candidates is covered elsewhere in this edition of Drain Trader. This is a really exciting initiative and the first time that an industry specific and relevant CSCS qualification will be available.
We are also moving forward with the development of an Excavation & Repair course, a Vacuuming and Tankering Course, a Sweeping Course and a Patching and Lining course. We anticipate all of these being available as EU Skills registered qualifications in the summer.
In addition we are working on a Certified Drainage Assessor course to build awareness about our industry with a range of professions and industries such as surveyors, architects, building engineers and loss adjusters, as well as local authorities. This in turn should generate demand for contractor services, particularly CCTV surveying.
The highest priority however is to get training up and running as soon as possible to serve the needs of the industry. Watch this space!
SHEA Sewer and Drainage
The new industry specific course that offers a CSCS card to successful candidates
For a long time NADC has had the ambition of offering members and the wider industry the opportunity to undertake specific Safety, Health and Environmental Awareness (SHEA) training in association with EU Skills that also offers Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) recognition. We are delighted that work on the delivery of this qualification is now well advanced and it is intended that the course will become available within six weeks. All being well it will be possible to plan courses across the country as soon the lifting of lockdown restrictions allows.
We are very grateful to EU Skills who have been working hard to deliver this course in trying circumstances with input from our specialist resources within NADC.
Over time we expect achievement of this qualification to become standard with all contractors as evidence of the importance that the industry places on health and safety and the environment.
The Covid-19 outbreak has caused NADC to postpone the launch of DrainSafe to February 2021 which is hugely frustrating for all involved in this vitally important scheme for the industry.
There are a number of reasons, and all of them practical and not of NADC’s making.
First of all, DrainSafe requires that all approved contractors will be competent to provide the services that they offer with recognised qualifications as evidence of this. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a complete hiatus in the delivery of training and qualifications which means that those wishing to be amongst the first registrants of the scheme may not be able to access the training that enables them to apply.
The second reason is that NADC had scheduled a series of regional meetings for member (and non-member) contractors to consult with the industry and gather first hand feedback on the detail and how the scheme could be further enhanced. These events have had to be postponed indefinitely and we will only reschedule these as Covid-19 restrictions allow. NADC believes that undertaking this vital consultation on-line is sub-optimal and we will only do this in absolute need.
The event at which DrainSafe was to be launched (No-Dig Live in September) has been postponed until March 2021.
A number of face to face meetings with important stakeholders had to be cancelled due to the crisis, and whilst these meetings are now being held on-line there have been inevitable delays.
Ultimately getting DrainSafe right at the outset, and that includes the most effective launch across both the industry and with all customers of drainage contractor services, has to be the absolute priority.
We will release further information on revised plans as soon as we can.