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.
In January 2005, the EOCP Board revised the timing of the implementation of the continuing education requirement for certified operators. The date for the completion of the first mandatory continuing education requirement was extended from January 1, 2007 to January 1, 2008.
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 a valid certificate. 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 a valid certificate. 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.
This means that a certified operator had from September 1, 2004 to January 1, 2008 to accumulate 2.4 CEU’s (1.2 CEU’s for Small Water System and Small Wastewater System operators) of approved training, for the first CEU reporting period. Each CEU reporting period after that is 2 years in length.
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 Sec. 5.6(b) of 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.
Examples of continuing education that qualify include:
- Traditional water and wastewater related courses provided by post secondary institutions, technical associations and EOCP recognized trainers
- First Aid training
- Computer training
- Supplier or other agency training on job specific components
- 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
- Any other training that meets the definition for appropriate continuing education
Training Registry > Please click here to go to the EOCP Training Registry
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 chlorine handling, independent systems, operator-in-training, or bulk water delivery certificates.
Should certified operators fail to take the required amount of continuing education; their certification will be placed in “not in good standing” until the requirements are met.
For further information or clarification, please contact the EOCP office at 604 874-4784 or 1 866 552-3627 (toll free).