Many businesses large and small get caught out regarding the expiry dates on competence certificates.
As awards are generally five-year renewable, it is imperative that firms are vigilant in ensuring that engineers are not working out of scope of their competence certification.
I’m sure, like me, you find that five years speeds past at a rate that often seems like just two or three. Dealing with expired or close-to-expired awards is something my administration team deals with daily.
As we start to build up to the increase in demand for gas assessment, availability is quickly used up. Engineers often have to cancel work or even holiday to accommodate a last minute booking.
When planning your next assessment activity, it is important to remember that the verification process can delay certification for up to six weeks.
After being assessed, the centre then performs a check in order to ensure the assessment was carried out to an appropriate standard and that a particular assessor is not being more or less strict than his colleagues.
This process is then completed at certification body level before the certificate is issued. It is important to remember that an individual is not deemed competent until this process is complete.
Certification bodies have generally tightened up processes and these days this delay is seldom six weeks but, as workload increases, the verification time is likely to increase. Some bodies offer a fast-track service but this is often at a premium rate.
The best way I believe to aid the planning of assessment requirements is through a service known as MOT style. As with the MOT on your car or van, you can bring forward your assessment but the expiry date does not change.
Assessments can be undertaken up to six months before the expiry date, giving you up to a five-and-a-half year life to the new certificate.
This enables assessments to be booked at a time to suit the engineer or possibly to take advantage of a reduced class size. Booking during the summer months will often mean that class sizes are half what they would be at other times of the year.
A less confident engineer would benefit from this, giving them a greater opportunity to ask questions. To take advantage of this facility, an individual must bring in their current certificate which is processed with the application.
Steve Wright is chief executive of Piper Assessment