A day in the life of an OFTEC inspector

A day in the life of an OFTEC inspector

John Vinter, Inspection Services Manager at OFTEC, shares an insight into the day-to-day work of his team.

The government is ramping up its net-zero agenda with homes firmly in their sights. OFTEC and its industry partners are advocating the use of renewable liquid fuels, such as HVO, to help rural homes on oil transition to an affordable green future.

However, heat pumps and other renewable technologies will also play a major role in the transition to low carbon heating, so OFTEC’s registration service has expanded to support all common off-gas technologies.

Whichever technology is being used, the heating sector needs to demonstrate high levels of competence and professionalism to instil confidence amongst consumers. OFTEC inspectors have a central role to play in this. Here’s why…

Why do technicians need inspecting?
The inspection process is not there to catch technicians out; the vast majority do an incredible job. Our role is to help technicians achieve and maintain those high standards. For technicians, a key benefit of OFTEC registration is self-certifying that work has been carried out to the correct standard. Therefore, the government requires OFTEC to have a robust review process in place.

OFTEC registration and inspections process helps protect consumers from unscrupulous tradespeople who undercut prices and often carry out sub-standard work, taking business away from the hard working qualified technicians. Non-compliant work also dampens consumer confidence which is bad for the whole industry.

The inspections process
When a technician becomes OFTEC registered, we conduct an initial evaluation within the first three months. Further inspections are completed during the second and third years, then every five years on a risk based approach. When a business or technician holds multiple scopes of OFTEC registration, ranging from liquid fuel, solid fuel, unvented cylinders, renewables and MCS, each one is inspected separately.

What happens during an inspection?
Inspections are planned in advance to fit in with technicians’ busy schedules. Whilst our inspectors need to be thorough, they do everything they can to be flexible as we understand the stresses and strains of running a business.

The inspection begins with a review of the relevant paperwork (public liability insurance, complaints log, waste carriers licence, technical books etc.), followed by an on-site visit to a recent installation. This is agreed with the relevant customer.

The inspection itself is non-invasive to minimise disruption but the relevant safety checks are always performed. Our inspector will also ask the technician about their work. The whole process typically lasts up to three hours.

Resolving non-compliance
There are three levels of non-compliance as part of the inspection feedback: major, minor and observation. For major and minor non-conformities, we draw these to the attention of the technician and provide 28 days for resolution. Observations are strong recommendations for future work and a way of progressing improvement.

Who are the inspectors?
OFTEC has 11 inspectors to cover all regions of UK & Ireland. All of the inspectors have worked in the industry and run their own heating business so they understand the challenges technicians face. Over 90% of their time is spent in the field with the remaining allocated to planning inspections and arranging visits.

Inspecting the inspectors
The inspectors themselves are also observed several times a year to ensure they are following OFTEC’s procedures. They hold the same qualifications as technicians and are required to undertake Continual Professional Development and keep up to date with industry news and manufacturer publications. OFTEC itself is also checked by UKAS.

The future for off-grid heating
Significant progress has been made towards enhancing industry standards and protecting both consumers and technicians. As the heating sector becomes increasingly multifaceted, OFTEC inspectors will continue to play a key part in this process, expertly supporting technicians across the full range of off-grid heating solutions to ensure homeowners are equipped with the right option for their home.

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