Water distribution/sewerage operatives install, repair and maintain the distribution, drainage and sewerage systems which take water into, and sewerage away from, homes and businesses. Duties are varied and include excavation and reinstatement of highways and other areas to lay and repair mains and services, using closed circuit TV to locate and identify buried plant equipment and to clear blockages in sewerage pipes, and installation of meters.
The work involves use and maintenance of vehicles, plant equipment and tools such as drills and high pressure hoses, and notifying engineers when equipment is faulty. Operatives erect warning signs prior to beginning work, and make records of plant and materials used. They may be involved in notifying service users about disruptions and reinstatement of services.
Water distribution/sewerage operatives work 37 hours a week, sometimes covering different shifts which can include nights. In severe emergencies work may be required at short notice. Part-time work is unusual.
They work outside in all weathers, or inside large sewerage and water systems. Protective clothing including breathing apparatus may be used, as conditions can be wet and smelly as well as dusty and dirty. The work involves bending and lifting and can involve direct contact with unpleasant substances. Physical fitness and strength are needed to use heavy machinery.A driving licence is often required as many centres are located far away from built-up areas.
To be a water distribution/sewerage operative you should:
It is possible to move into other roles such as supervisor, area superintendent or management positions. Qualifications often enhance promotion prospects but performance on the job is an important factor.
Some operatives study for engineering qualifications up to degree level and become engineering technicians or incorporated water engineers.
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