New Trade Association for Electronic Leak Detection

A NEW trade association for businesses that electronically site-test and certify roof and waterproofing systems has formed, called the Roofing and Waterproofing Test Association (RAWTA).

Inaugural Chairman, Stephen Thornton was the very first consultant to undertake electronic integrity testing at London’s Broadgate complex from the late 1980’s.

Stephen says, “The electronic leak test process has come of age over the last 30 years or so, before which the only known method was a prolonged flood test, which also gave no indication of where a leak might be occurring” says Stephen.

“Electronic testing is fast, pinpoint accurate and economic, so has now become the industry standard.  There is still much to be achieve, however, such as ensuring that every test regime is meaningful by being truly independent.”

The process to form the new trade association began in early 2017, to meet the challenge of revised rules for CSCS card applications, for which a recognised qualification is now required.  Additionally, there was no regulation over test houses, so any person could purchase a unit one day and be certifying the next, with potentially no liability to the client.

“We have nothing against new players in the field” continues Stephen, “it’s just that the customer needs assurance that they are getting quality and value.”

Qualifications
RAWTA has since worked closely with CITB and CSkillsAwards to develop an industry-specific Level 3 NVQ, which was ratified in December 2018.

RAWTA members undertake to abide by a strict code of practice, which forbids test houses or personnel from certifying an installation where there is a conflict of interest, such as mutual ownership or common directors, or even testing their own work.

They also agree that electronic testing is not a catch-all process and sometimes may be ineffective on certain installations, so will notify the client of any limitations of test, then advise on how to best achieve it, rather than take on dubious testing for the sake of income alone.

Tail wagging the dog
“In the early days, trying to impose conditions on certain waterproofing installations to enable electronic test was seen as the tail wagging the dog.” continues Stephen. 

“We have now come of age and have the respect of the construction industry, which can only be of benefit to all. By employing a RAWTA member, the client can be confident of a consistency of approach. Ideally, the suitability and methodology of any test should be considered at the design stage, rather than wait for problems to arise either during the tender process or, worse, once the system has been installed – a situation that still occurs all too often,” Stephen concludes.

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