A change of legislation in recent years has meant that waste management is now subject to different guidelines, which firms operating in a variety of sectors - from scrap metal to hazardous materials - are advised to familiarise themselves with.
Previously, businesses and organisations involved in the process were required to hold a waste management licence. The change over the past two years towards the new environmental permit system has brought with it a host of new competencies for recyclers to consider, points out Aviva Risk Management Solutions' (ARMS's) environmental expert James Draper.What are the new regulations?
Under the new approach formulated by the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board, firms are split into three categories which are linked to the risks attached to the sector they operate in. For instance, low-risk areas include the storage of inert waste, transfer and treatment operations and the composting of green waste.
Any biological treatment other than composting of green matter, contaminated land operations and civic amenity sites can all potentially be included in the medium-risk category.
High-risk waste treatment areas, meanwhile, can include any waste operations which were previously subject to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Pollution Prevention and Control regulation. Other matters falling into this category are the most hazardous forms of waste transfer, disposal and treatment activities.
Dividing different measures into these three groups has meant an end to the previous system, which required people with waste management responsibilities to hold a single 'one size fits all' NVQ.
Instead, each category will have its own unique qualifications. In a further advance, the learning habits and preferences of those required to hold a permit have been taken into account. This means that people now have the option to either study for an Environmental Permit Operators Certificate or complete the relevant units of the NVQ programme. Four units must be completed for those involved in low-risk activities, while medium and high-risk areas require the completion of six and twelve sections respectively.
A further route to gaining the required level of competence - the VRQ - does not require candidates to be viewed on site in order to gain the qualification. This makes it possible for people to be trained prior to a facility becoming operational and also means anyone looking to move into a career in waste management can be fully skilled before making the switch.
Another key element of the new requirements is the necessity for people involved in waste management to engage in ongoing learning throughout their working life. Known as 'continuing competence', this is particularly necessary given that waste management can be a rapidly evolving sector.
In order to demonstrate their continued ability to perform their job role, those in the sector must complete a computer-based knowledge assessment every two years. While this applies to each of the categories, those involved in high-risk waste management will need to demonstrate a higher level of knowledge.Aviva Risk Management Solutions can assist waste management professionals in meeting the new competency requirements.
James Draper pointed out that ARMS has worked with organisations involved in waste management to help them achieve the new requirements by holding test seminars designed to advise and coach attendees on achieving the necessary compliance. In recent times, it has carried out work with a leading trade organisation to formulate a strategy allowing the group to demonstrate the competency of its members in a cost-effective manner. By holding the seminars, members will be educated so they are aware of what is required to achieve technical competence.
As well as the legal necessity of achieving this level of training, having technically competent operators also has other benefits for organisations involved in waste management. For instance, these trained specialists are also less likely to pose an insurance risk.