The importance of maintaining a high-functioning water supply and disposal system has led to the implementation of statutes and codes prescribing technical requirements for those working within the industry.
In other countries the work of plumbers is regulated by law, with formal certification schemes in place to standardize the competence of plumbers and the quality of plumbing materials.
In the UK, the relevant law is enshrined in Water Regulations (Water Byelaws in Scotland) that are overseen by the Water Regulations Advisory Committee of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as well as Building Regulations made under Building Acts.
DEFRA’s 1999 review of Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations gave the government and water suppliers the authority to recognize companies and self-employed individuals who wish to become “approved contractors”.
Approved contractor status for plumbers is NOT mandatory, and can be conferred by several different bodies operating their own voluntary “approved contractor schemes”. The most popular of these include the WRAS’s Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme, and the Approved Contractor Person Scheme operated by the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers – the primary professional body for plumbers in the UK with a membership of over 12000. The IPHE also maintains its own list of registered plumbers who have proven their competence through recognized qualifications and/or extensive experience.
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