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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has written in the Health Aspects of Plumbing document: Plumbers are trained to design, install and maintain plumbing systems. However, the work of plumbers goes beyond the provision of plumbing systems; they must manage the risks associated with plumbing installations. They share this risk management role with public health officials. Finally, in a world that is now increasingly aware of the value of natural resources, plumbers and other plumbing professionals play a vital role in water conservation.
WHO and WPC share a special working relationship and WPC’s John McBride was seconded to work in Geneva (but ended up working in Melbourne) on several combined projects. The most significant was work on a document entitled Regulation of Plumbing Work which looked at the regulation of plumbing as a risk management tool.
Unfortunately the document is yet to be published by WHO as it was turned into a Key Issues paper which is yet to be formatted. Calls by the WPC will see it added to their online resources in the near future.
The paper developed a range of definitions for plumbing terms, most of which have been published. The paper is to be used in the WHO network at a level where regulators sit, to get the messages across to the regulating bodies.
The second of the more interesting points was what to do with the WPC Scholarship. Previous recipient, Benny Wielandt, who visited Thailand, provided an excellent report on plumbing in that country. However what is the direct benefit to the WPC and plumbing in general?
Talk of scrapping the scholarship was short lived, however, as members of the WPC voted to keep it in place and create an Education and Training Scholarship.
Discussion moved from training and education to plumbing’s response in a crisis. Robert explained that the binds put on plumbers by WHO were necessary, however plumbers do have a role to play. While it is unfortunate that those looking after the crises are made up of mainly water supply engineers from water bodies and not plumbers, it was suggested that perhaps a scholarship or award be implemented whereby skilled people can be sent to help with the blessing of WHO and WPC.
Other points of interest to come out of the conference were the opening of the Global Water Institute in October 2010, the Environmental Aspects of Plumbing Project for which it is envisioned that a public statement about health aspects are made on a biennial basis, a work program to identify someone to write a water safety plan from source to use, the creation of a panel to discuss problems and provide practical expertise, the creation of a multi-media training package, a proposed WPC membership recruitment campaign and a report by Russ Chaney on the WPC website.
The final day’s presentations were conducted by Paul Naylor, Murray Thomas and Sydney Water’s Les Barnard, who gave a stirring review of what is currently happening with AsFlow and dry drains studies.
Paul and Murray gave an encouraging presentation about training, on the job assessment, group training, a skills tracker program, proper simulation techniques and a non-government based apprentice system that could have far reaching effects for the industry and provide great benefits to students coming through. Plumbing Connection will report on this matter fully in coming issues. They also touted the benefits of starting an interactive website whereby knowledge can be shared among the fraternity, rather than being exclusive to government run bodies.
Paul finished his section by giving an inspiring presentation on the growth of skills and training in Fiji.
All in all, the conference provided a successful and interesting insight into the world of plumbing and its future.
“I believe that the overall view from the meeting is that WPC is making real progress – World Plumbing Day is an example of such progress,” Robert says.Continued...