Mike Lee explains how a new series of ‘virtual reality’ courses can help improve safety when it comes to the design, installation and maintenance of water-using appliances.

Water safety can be overlooked by both installers and homeowners who often do not realise what the dangers can present. This calls for more education and awareness of the importance of water safety. However, with lots of guidance and literature already out there, it is time for something different to tackle this issue head on.

Unfortunately water safety just doesn’t have the same comparable level of mandatory training to some other fields. It is therefore up to the installer to be proactive when it comes to updating their knowledge, otherwise gaps in understanding can develop over time if they put it off.

As long as mandatory training and the updating of practical installation and design skills are not part of regulation when it comes to water safety, it is the responsibility of the plumbing and heating industry as a whole to promote continuing professional development (CPD) in this area.

As an independent consultant considering all aspects of the design, installation and maintenance of water systems, I have seen first-hand the mistakes which, with due care and diligence, could have easily been avoided.

The initial design and installation can be where problems are initiated. One simple example of this is where access to inspect a water tank is restricted due to the close proximity of walls or other items of equipment. While this doesn’t cause an immediate issue at the point of installation, the long-term consequences of this will mean future servicing and maintenance is made difficult, if not impossible.

Designers, installers and those who maintain water systems all need to play their part and complete their processes effectively to fully cover this important topic. Everyone’s actions when it comes to water safety matters and it only takes one mistake throughout the chain to affect the safety of an installation.

A new approach

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering’s (CIPHE) recent investment in the creation of ‘virtual reality’ resources means that the body can cover a wide variety of topics including training on S Plan and Y Plan wiring, augmented gas boiler servicing and more. Additionally, a legionella risk management ‘virtual reality’ course will also be part of the series.

The legionella risk management ‘virtual reality’ course is a collaborative effort between myself and the CIPHE. Following over 40 years’ in industry, I noticed a gap in the market and wanted to be a part of the institute’s fight in improving workmanship and safeguarding the consumer. This is why when Paul Harmer, Lead Technical Consultant at the CIPHE approached me about the initiative, I knew it was something I wanted to get involved with.

Industry professionals can immerse themselves in a 3D interactive learning experience – seeing components up close and being able to explore best practice when it comes to the design, installation and maintenance of a system, in a memorable way. With so much literature already out there, this provides an alternative for plumbing and heating engineers to stay updated and informed.

Installers will be given scenarios when it comes to water safety, such as the effect of temperature gain through insufficient lagging or incorrect positioning of hot and cold water pipes. Upon completion, CIPHE members will have the ability to achieve accredited CPD points and digital certification for validation.

These kinds of resources will go a long way to improving the learning experience and to encourage installers, especially those just starting out in the industry, to keep up with their CPD. To register your interest in techtalkVR and techtalkCPD, please email paulh@ciphe.org.uk.

Mike Lee is a member and independent consultant for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering