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Biomass specialists raising the bar with new training for firms

BIOMASS heating pioneers re:heat are using their expertise to raise professional standards in the wood heat industry.

The North East team are being called upon for specialist training as more schools, hospitals and major businesses move away from traditional fossil-fuelled systems towards biomass.

Whilst there’s a rise in the number of firms installing and running the systems nationally, there are currently few relevant standards to help regulate the industry.

Yet despite the lack of standards, employers have an obligation to ensure operators of the specialist equipment are fully trained and understand the risks, benefits and maintenance requirements linked to biomass boilers.

Ben Tansey, co-founder of re:heat, said: “Whether it’s health and safety, risk assessment or refreshing the basics, employers have an obligation to make sure operators are competent when maintaining these innovative and large pieces of equipment.

“It is also key for staff to fully understand how to operate the systems effectively in order to secure the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and avoid cost implications for businesses.”

With re:heat co-founder Neil Harrison elected to the board of directors for the Wood Heat Association (WHA) at the start of 2015, the business has increasingly been called upon to develop training packages to ensure operator competency.

Mr Tansey added: “We recently completed a successful operator competency review and delivered a bespoke training programme with Robertson Facilities Management who are responsible for the operation of multiple biomass boilers at sites across Newcastle upon Tyne.

“Following one-to-one reviews with each of their operators we were able to identify areas where we could offer support and guidance. We then developed a set of training courses to ensure a consistent standard and compliance with manufacturers’ requirements. 

“Since launching re:heat in 2011 we have been aware of a real demand for training across the whole sector. The marketplace is increasingly crowded as companies from all manner of other industries, many without a solid grounding in biomass, move in.

“What we are delivering in the North East is a huge step forward in raising professional standards in the industry, contributing to the reputation of biomass heating as an option that is a sound choice for businesses and the public sector.

“With the RHI providing financial incentives for running biomass boilers, it’s vital that caretakers, operators and front-line engineering staff appreciate why biomass boilers need to run, what the possible risks are if they are not operated correctly and how to perform basic but essential maintenance.

“There are a limited number of relevant training courses in the biomass sector which is why we approached the Robertson Facilities Management team with a bespoke package of skills evaluations. As a result the biomass boilers they installed are being properly maintained and are therefore running more efficiently.” 

Allan Dryden, regional manager for Robertson Facilities Management, added: “As a responsible employer we need to ensure that all of the operators of our biomass boilers understand why we use the boilers, how the technology works and what we need to do to look after them. The team at re:heat has delivered a great package of review, evaluation and subsequent delivery of an operator-friendly training package.”

Founded in 2011, re:heat’s innovation in the field of biomass sees the team informing Government reports and transforming heating systems in schools, hospitals and businesses across the UK.

To find out more about its training programme and biomass systems visit www.reheat.uk.com, email hello@reheat.uk.com or ring 01665 665 040.

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