Arch Timber Protection is poised to become the first company in the preservation sector to introduce a nationally recognised National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) for timber treatment plant operators and site managers.

Working with the Construction Industry Training Board and City & Guilds, Arch has become an approved assessment company for timber treatment training. Successful candidates, drawn from Arch’s own workforce and those of its customers, will achieve the NVQ qualification in Wood Preserving – Industrial Pre-Treatment Level 2.

The new training will cover a range of topics approved by the British Wood Preserving & Damp-proofing Association, from timber technology and quality control through to treatment plant engineering/maintenance and environmental protection and personal health and safety.

Mike Green, customer service manager at Arch Timber Products, said: ‘The treatment is only as good as the people applying it.’

He added: ‘This is the shape of things to come – all the relevant safety bodies believe that this is a movement in the right direction to improve standards.’

The Environment Agency, The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Health & Safety Executive are all said to have welcomed the initiative.

Mr Green claimed that many organisations, such as the Highways Agency, already required treatment only from companies with NVQ certific-ated treatment plant operators.

The first of the new NVQ courses is scheduled to start in March and Arch – formerly Hickson Timber Products Ltd – predicts that as many as 100 will enrol in it during its first year of operation.