• Project No 1139
  • Project Name Water Operations Technical Competency Benchmark
  • Lead Organisation Water Research Australia
  • Research Lead Veolia Water Australia
  • Main Researcher Dr Kathy Northcott
  • Completion Year 2024

Project Description

A groundbreaking collaboration involving 23 project partners from various sectors of the water industry across seven states and territories has resulted in the release of essential tools aimed at enhancing the competency of water industry operators. This project has developed a suite of products, including an Auditing Tool and Benchmarking Report, along with a comprehensive Summary Report. This release marks a significant milestone in seeking standardised training and competency within the water industry, addressing the critical need for a structured approach to operator training and competency.

The initiative, which builds upon the findings of the Value of Operator Competency Project (2019), has developed a technical competency benchmark and auditing tool aimed at frontline water industry operators. Developed through extensive industry engagement and collaboration, the project seeks to establish minimum standards for technical competency, fostering a more uniform approach to training and competency across the water industry. The release of Part A of these tools marks a pivotal moment in the industry’s efforts to elevate operator competency, with Part B set for release later in 2024.

Part B will explore the crucial aspect of learning from experienced operators. It will identify common themes in water safety incidents, attributing them to complacency, naivete, and ignorance, all of which stem from a failure in the decision-making process. However, literature on the decision-making processes of water industry operators is scarce, emphasising the imperative to enhance our understanding of the workplace experiences necessary for cultivating effective decision-making abilities. This investigation aims to engage frontline operators to gain insights into their experiences, particularly focusing on instances where the right decisions were made at the right time, as well as those where hindsight reveals opportunities for better choices. By openly sharing experiences, this endeavour seeks to gather further evidence to inform industry regulators and utilities about the minimum competency standards for frontline operators and underscore the significance of continual professional development in creating a culture of safety and efficacy within the water operations sector.

All project resources are available to both WaterRA members and non-members, with secure download enabled upon account creation, aiming to bridge the gap between industry and regulators and ensure the industry is well-equipped to meet evolving challenges and deliver essential services to communities nationwide.