Continuing Education Requirements for Operators
At the February 2, 2004, Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) Board meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to implement a program of mandatory continuing education for all certified operators, based on recommendations presented by a sub-committee appointed in 2003 to draft the new requirements. This program is similar to other certification authorities throughout North America. The announcement of this requirement was the front page article in the March 2004 issue of the EOCP Operators Digest newsletter and the subject of a full page article in the Spring 2004 edition of the BCWWA’s Watermark newsletter.
Operators certified as Small System Operators in water and wastewater facilities are required to take 12 hours of appropriate continuing education (1.2 CEU’s) every 2 years in order to hold valid certification. Operators certified at Level I, II, III, and IV are required to take 24 hours of appropriate continuing education (2.4 CEU’s) every 2 years in order to hold valid certification.
Operators must provide course completion certificates or transcripts for the applicable continuing education they have taken during each CEU reporting period. The number of hours must meet the above requirements in order to remain a certified operator.
The purpose of requiring continuing education is to ensure that certified operators remain well trained, current, and are capable of operating and maintaining their facilities in a responsible and professional manner. Payment of annual dues alone does not provide the EOCP with the assurance that public health and the environment are protected by those who are responsible for the operation and maintenance of water and wastewater facilities in BC. As a result, it has been decided to implement the continuing education requirements to ensure that the EOCP is fulfilling its responsibilities to governments and the public regarding mandatory certification, by only certifying those who meet prescribed standards. The establishment of standards for certification and membership in the EOCP has been entrusted to the Board of Directors as per its Constitution.
The term “continuing education unit” (CEU) is defined as “ten contact hours of participation in an organized, continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction.” Continuing education must therefore conform to this definition, and be relevant to the certificate it applies to.
Operators must provide proof of completion of training within the specified two-year period (eg. Jan 2016 – Dec 2017). Should an operator fall behind on their CEUs, submissions received in the next two-year period will calculate in the previous reporting period, until it is satisfied.
To establish continuing education standards, CEUs from past years cannot be used for current CEU Reporting periods (e.g. a submission dated 2015 cannot be allocated to the Jan 2016 – Dec 2017 period.
Examples of continuing education that qualify include:
- Traditional water and wastewater related courses provided by post secondary institutions, technical associations and EOCP recognized trainers
- Courses, workshops, and seminars designed for Operators
- Chlorine or other disinfection courses
- Safety training such as WHMIS, WCB, confined spaces, including on-the-job emergency procedures for chlorine, etc.
- Backflow prevention courses
- Relevant laboratory courses
- First Aid training
- Computer training
- Supplier or other agency training on job specific components
- Any other training that meets the definition for appropriate continuing education
- To view more recognized training, Please click here for the EOCP Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
Since many operators hold more than one certificate, the continuing education requirement will not require those operators to take the required number of hours for each certificate they hold. A minimum of 25% of the requirement must apply to each certificate held. For example if an operator holds Wastewater Treatment Level 1 and Wastewater Collection Level 1 certificates, he/she will be required to show a total of 24 hours of continuing education per two year period, of which a minimum of 6 hours must be in wastewater treatment and a minimum of 6 hours must be in wastewater collection training. The balance of 12 hours per 2 years can be made up of other related and approved training that is common to both certificates.
The continuing education requirements do not apply to Operator-in-Training, or Bulk Water Delivery certificates.
Should a certified operator fail to take the required amount of continuing education or pay annual dues; their certification will reflect ‘not certified’ until the requirements are met.