Approved or not approved... WRAS is the question
Gareth Harris, WIAPS ManagerAre you a ‘WRAS Approved’ plumber? There are many of you out there!
It is a common misconception that plumbers can be WRAS Approved. However, no plumbing business may claim to be WRAS approved and this would breach a registered trademark. Worse still, if a plumber claims to be WRAS approved, then they might find themselves in hot water with trading standards. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) specifically ban businesses from displaying any form of trust mark, quality mark or equivalent if they are not authorised to do so. It is also a breach of these Regulations to provide false or deceptive information.
So why do some plumbers believe they are WRAS approved?
WRAS endorses specific training courses in the water regulations and used to allow the Certification Bodies with endorsed courses to use the WRAS logo on the Certificates. However successfully completing a course endorsed by WRAS, does not mean an individual is WRAS approved nor does it provide permission to the use of the WRAS logo.
How can a water regulations course help me to get recognition?
The Water Industry operates Approved Contractors’ Schemes, and the entry requirements for plumbers to join these include a qualification in a trade-related plumbing discipline (e.g.NVQ), and a Certificate in Water Regulations Knowledge. The endorsement by WRAS means that the Certificate in Water Regulations Knowledge can be used as evidence to support an application to become a member of an Approved Contractors’ Scheme.
The logo isn’t on my certificate. Is it not a recognised qualification?
WRAS stopped allowing the use of our logo some years ago in the hope of removing any confusion. Just because your certificate doesn’t have the WRAS logo on it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been endorsed by WRAS. A full list of endorsed qualifications can be found on the WRAS website.
So, if I’m a qualified plumber, and have a Certificate in Water Regulations, how can I gain recognition?
You can join one of the seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes operating under WaterSafe.
What are these schemes?
- APHC in England and Wales
- CIPHE across the UK
- SNIPEF in Scotland and Northern Ireland
- Anglian Water’s APLUS
- Thames Water’s TAPS
- Severn Trent’s Watermark
- The Water Industry Approved Plumbers’ Scheme (WIAPS) in England and Wales (excluding Anglian Water, Thames Water and Severn Trent Water regions)
What is WaterSafe?
WaterSafe is the national register for approved plumbers, the place all water companies refer their customers looking for a local approved plumber. Once you have joined one of the seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes, membership of WaterSafe is a free additional benefit.
What do I do next to gain recognition?
You need to identify the appropriate scheme for you. If you are already a member of one of the trade associations; APHC, CIPHE or SNIPEF, contact them for more information. Alternatively, you can contact the Water Industry Scheme operating in your area.
What are my obligations?
To demonstrate your professionalism and commitment, you will be required to issue your customer with a certificate for the work you do, and also make yourself available to be audited by your Approved Contractors’ Scheme.
I’m still unsure, where can I get further advice?
Ok, so if I’m not WRAS Approved, who is?
No person can be WRAS Approved – unless they have endured a 1 hour, 10 bar pressure test! WRAS Approval is for fittings and materials which comply with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Byelaws in Scotland.
What type of fittings can be WRAS Approved?
Any fitting used in a water system connected to the public mains water supply. Anything from pipes,valves, taps, boilers, showers and other water fittings… the list goes on.
What is the purpose of these WRAS Approved Products?
Having completed your Certificate in Water Regulations Knowledge, you will know Regulation 4 requires a fitting to be of a suitable quality and standard – WRAS Approval is one way of demonstrating this.
How do they gain WRAS Approval?
Fittings undergo a series of mechanical performance tests, and materials undergo water quality testing by suitably accredited laboratories. In addition all products need be marked so they can be traced.
Is it mandatory to use WRAS Approved Products?
No. You must however be able to demonstrate that a fitting complies with the requirements of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Byelaws; helping ensure it will not contaminate, waste, misuse or unduly consume water.
Who has to demonstrate this compliance?
Any person who installs a water fitting in the first instance, and then any person who asked for the work to be done or continues to use those fittings. Basically, the installer needs to ensure any fitting installed complies with the water regulations and byelaws but the owner or occupier also has responsibility.
Why do fittings have to comply?
Water regulations and byelaws are there to protect public health by ensuring the water supplied does not become contaminated, or is misused in any way that could result in someone becoming ill.
This is pretty important then?
Yes! Each year the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water issues a report into water quality. In 2015, 30% of failures reported in England were related to private plumbing systems.
Where can I find further information?
The WRAS website is full of useful information and resources, including; publications, water regulation interpretations, the WRAS Approval directory for approved fittings and much more. You will also find lots of helpful information on your local water company website.
If you have questions about Water Regulations and the use of appropriate fittings, you can contact either WRAS or the Water Regulations department of the local water company through the WRAS website.