Safety through training

Vehicle recoveryThe modular approach to training has been recognised as the effective way for companies and technicians alike to train and maintain the highest standards demanded by the industry,explains Terry Crampton, training, assessment and quality manager at the Institute of Vehicle Recovery

The roadside and recovery industry in the UK is one of the very few industries that has managed to develop a training programme that is both self developed and self regulating. In addition to this the resulting training standards are now being taken as a benchmark by many external authorities. Organisations from outside the recovery industry are currently sending their technicians to be trained to these standards, as many see that the only way to do this is via the VR modules.

In 2006 the Institute of Vehicle Recovery (IVR) was designated as caretaker administrator of the National Training Scheme (NTS) for the rescue and recovery industry by the National Highways Sector Scheme NHSS17. In this role the IVR, with its partners in the industry serving on the management board, continues to develop and implement a national policy standard for the training and certification of recovery operators and technicians working on the UK’s road network.

To help the quality of the training the IVR also works with the Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register (ITSSAR) which is the official body that monitors training and safety within the commercial operation of lift trucks in order to maintain and improve training standards. ITSSAR has also been the catalyst for the IVR developing a high quality training programme enabling Instructors to deliver the training for the industry.

Advantages of training
The VR module training has provided the industry with a distinct advantage, very similar to those discovered by other industries that adopted a new personnel development programme:
• it will help to retain staff
• it can reduce damage claims by the increase in skills
• it improves the perception of the industry by the public
• it can reduce external claims by offering proof of professional competence
• it provides proof of Continuing Professional Development
• provides a career path for roadside assistance and recovery technicians

Within the structure of the IVR the training providers are authorised to deliver training and, working with the Rescue Recovery Trainers Association (RRTA), spend a great deal of time in the development of future courses.

New modules and their delivery

The approved training providers not only deliver training but also maintain current VR modules and develop the range of new modules to fulfil any growing need that will benefit the industry.

Two recent examples of this have been the VR19 Preservation of Evidence and VR20 Rotator course. The VR19 course, originally developed by the IVR in cooperation with both Northamptonshire and Thames Valley Police Forces, has now been updated by Matt Ayling, of the RRTA and is a perfect example of how training providers and the IVR work together to continually improve the training on offer to the industry.

The VR20 Rotator course has been developed by Nick Ovenden of Ashford Recovery, and Mick Goodley, of Ashbourne Accident Repair Centre, on behalf of the IVR with Peter Martin of Peter Martin Support Services, developing the manual for the module. Both Mick and Peter feel that the VR modules are raising both the professionalism and the way in which customers view the industry.

Mick Goodley commented: "I have noticed a difference since the course content was changed to include Skills Assessment as the assessment ensures that the courses do not award certificates for just attending and that those that attend have to individually demonstrate their level of knowledge and skills at the end of the course. The Skills Assessment has helped to deliver a much deeper level of knowledge transfer and gives the attendees, and their employers, more value for their money."

Improved professionalism
Roger Dawson of Rogers Rescue, Kidderminster has seen the VR modules develop and has used them for all his staff, he has seen the professionalism improve as a result.

A VR20 course, run at Kidderminster, proved particularly useful as when Roger first acquired a rotator there were no courses that addressed the needs of the recovery operator. As a result he had to go out to a crane training company for his first course.

Now the IVR has developed the VR20, Roger is delighted with the result but believes that advanced courses, such as VR20, may require at least five years' experience of recovery operations plus mechanical experience before a technician is asked to begin operating an advanced machine such as a rotator.

The value of the VR modules

The VR modules are increasingly being used as part of the rationale for awarding contracts. Roger King of CMG Training confirmed that the police contracts were increasingly asking for proof of the level of training, as were FMG and many others. Generally the increased level of professionalism is benefitting the industry.

The emphasis on duty of care within health and safety, and corporate manslaughter legislation has meant that many outside the immediate industry are now anxious to ensure their staff receive the best available training to help and protect them in their working lives.

This has meant that organisations as diverse as local councils, car dealers and tyre companies have adopted some, or all, of the basic modules to assist in roadside safety for their roadside technicians. Others have opted for the core modules and those who deal with moving vehicles with a light transporter have added the VR6 course.

Mark Hartell of Recoverysafe Training said; "We have noticed the increase in non-recovery organisations requiring basic roadside training. It is becoming part of the package offered by the employer and most understand the benefits of the training being offered."

The training programme and associated certification is becoming a vital part of the industry and the means by which its members are recognised by outside bodies and contract providers. Above all, the training will be fundamental in providing rescue and recovery operators with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve standards of operation and safety throughout the industry.

Having the training within the industry has many advantages, not least of which is the much reduced cost compared to other industries. For example, in the bodyshop industry the rates for PAS125 training will be in the region of £600 a day. The recovery industry will cost about half of that figure, achieving a significant saving for the industry.

Professional Excellence - The Bill Jackson Award 2011

Training to these exacting standards reaps many benefits. At this year’s IVR AGM, the Bill Jackson Award for professional excellence was presented, for the first time in its history, to two companies, McAllister’s Recovery and BJG Solutions. The recovery that secured this award was not only difficult but also dangerous due to the highly toxic content of the tanktainer, which had fallen off a gantry crane onto its side, damaging the frame.

Mark McAllister, MD of McAllister Recovery, explained: “I have run major incident scenes for over a decade yet still the odd job causes that little nag of doubt. The incident in question was one such job where the responsibility worried me from start to finish. Not because of concerns with the team, the kit or our recovery plan but simply the risk associated consequences had the slightest unforeseen event occurred. Thankfully the recovery was handled perfectly due to the skill, training and professionalism of those on the ground and I thank them all for the their hard work and dedication throughout the very long and tiring day.
“In particular I was extremely pleased to have shared the award jointly with the team from BJG Solutions as it shows that with positive partnerships across the industry we can achieve so much. I hope that this incident shows what our independent industry is capable of achieving through a desire to be the best combined with real investment in our people, equipment and working practices.”

Darren Donoghue, director of BJG Solutions, added: “We work in sometimes very difficult and often dangerous situations, not just big, high profile jobs like the one in question but on a day to day basis loading a vehicle on the hard shoulder for example. Because we do it all of the time we can sometimes take for granted the risks involved.

"This job is a testament to the professionalism and pride in the job that our staff demonstrated during very difficult circumstances. A job well done by true recovery men. I have seen quite a few comments made on the various forums by recovery people who suggested ‘rather you than me’, well these guys turned up, got suited up in full charcoal lined kit wearing respirators and just got on and done the job! Not even a suggestion that they were not willing to carry out this recovery, because that is what they do."

Professional and safe recoveries of this nature show what is achievable through high quality training and development of staff.

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