From the magazine, HDD

Are your staff HDD competent?

On 16 September 2014 Trenchless Advisor, in association with the Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee (ADITC), undertook the first set of on-site independent assessments for the newly introduced Verification of Competency (VOC) and Training in Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Operations for the HDD Industry.

The assessments were undertaken by HDD expert David Gunnell from Trenchless Advisor, a qualified Certificate IV Trainer and Assessor, to ensure the accuracy and final awarding of competency was accurate and reflective of the skill set presented.

The roll-out of these assessments will assure clients that they can remain confident in the skills and abilities held by HDD contractors they employ. The awarding of competency also provides recognition to the HDD operators themselves for the experience they have gained over their years in the trenchless industry.

Even though the HDD industry has been unregulated since its inception back in the early 1990s, the call to improve its position within the underground civil construction industry via an accurate qualification or competency verification has increased amongst clients and contractors alike.

The requirement for all clients, both Government and private sector, to present a duty of care when undertaking projects is in-line with the new national Occupational Health and Safety harmonisation laws that came into effect January 2012. These laws ensure an employer’s obligation to maintaining all staff hold a current level of competency, providing diligence and accountability.

Owner and Operator of South Coast Under Road Boring Damien Cooney immediately saw the benefit in having his crew and himself assessed for competency in HDD.

Formalising the competency of skills Mr Cooney and his staff have acquired over the past 20 years allows him to produce an effective document to his clients that reflects the professionalism, experience and knowledge gained by him and his crew in that time.

This in turn provides his clients the confidence in the company’s skill set, further allowing for the first time, the ability to provide clients with documented proof that the contractor has the ability to safely and correctly operate their chosen equipment within the HDD industry.

The VOC in HDD Operations is recognised as part of the Recognition of Prior Learning and/or Recognition of Current Competencies when achieving a qualification in drilling operations.

This is seen as a major stepping stone for a future pathway with employees as well as improving the levels of professionalism, experience and knowledge within existing HDD companies.

The assessment takes place on-site allowing for the VOC to be achieved in a short period of time and allowing the individual to complete their qualification in drilling operations during a more suitable time without compromising their ability to operate in HDD.

The final assessment summary report allows the individual and/or company involved to learn about their overall current skill level, information that can be invaluable and lead to additional up-skilling within certain areas.

Like all industries, everyone believes they have obtained a high level of knowledge and skills over significant periods of time.

It is not until an independent assessor skilled within the same industry conducts an objective review that an authentic skill set can be confirmed, this is how the HDD industry can continue to improve its ability to future employees and clients.

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