The Importance of State Licensing and Continuing Education for Journeymen

In California, you must have a state license to cut someone’s hair or give a pedicure. For plumbers, a state license is required for a contractor, but not the contractor’s employees. So, the plumber that enters your home is at the mercy of his bosses training or lack thereof.  Therefore, though plumbers regularly come in contact with hazardous material, the plumber in your home may or may not have had good training on how to work in a manner that is safe for themselves and the public.

The best way to explain the implications of this issue is through a real-life scenario…

Imagine that you have a plumbing problem in your kitchen. You call a plumber in the morning and he or she arrives that afternoon. The plumber walks through your home to the kitchen, fixes your problem, then walks back through your house and out the door. Problem solved, right? You can now move on to the next issue in your busy day.

But, wait. Where was that plumber before he or she entered your home? Plumbers often come in contact with sewage, which can contain harmful bacteria like e-coli or salmonella. What if your plumber worked in sewage earlier that day? What if they didn’t work safely or clean up properly afterward?  If they didn’t, they may have tracked harmful bacteria through your home. If anyone – especially a child – comes in contact with that bacteria, they could become seriously ill.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you prefer to know that your plumber has received official training on dealing with hazardous substances?

Championing the Cause

The problem described above is something many consumers and plumbers never consider. That’s why the PHCC of Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties is diligently pursuing education legislation for professionals in the plumbing industry as well as professionals who work with combustibles, gas, ventilation of exhaust, drinking water, irrigation and raw sewage. The PHCC wants to make the public and plumbing industry aware and take action. Specifically, Mike would like to see California enact mandatory licensing for all journeymen and require six hours of continuing education per year over a two year period to maintain a state license.

Though the need for this legislation is apparent, Mike and the PHCC are experiencing challenges. It’s difficult to obtain relevant statistics on the issue, which makes it hard to quantify the human health risk and economic impact of the problem.  Therefore, winning support of a local government representative has been difficult.  Mike and the PHCC have no plans of slowing their fight, though. They are working to win support from a representative who can bring a bill to the state before January 25.  As awareness increases and spreads throughout the public and the plumbing industry, Mike and the PHCC feel confident they will achieve their goal.