Wastewater Operations Workforce Solution: Contingency Staffing

As organizations enter the post-pandemic phase of recovery, the need for qualified, licensed wastewater operators is reaching a record high. A quick search of job postings within South Carolina and North Carolina alone resulted in 50+ open positions of all levels.

To combat the ever-challenging workforce obstacles facing industrial and municipal wastewater operations, developing a contingency staffing plan should be step one. This first step toward workforce and compliance peace of mind offers not only management, but also the entire operations team the needed flexibility to concentrate on system performance, preventative maintenance oversight and, above all, regulatory compliance.

How to Develop a Contingency Staffing Protocol?

As with any crisis, the better prepared an industry and its organizations are equipped to handle it, the better the outcome will be. The number of qualified wastewater operators, or lack thereof, is quickly becoming a crisis for many organizations. If your organization has yet to develop or is struggling to create a staffing contingency plan, follow this 3-step process:

Step One: Identify Minimum and Maximum Staffing and Certification Requirements

  • Based on your wastewater treatment plant’s run time and discharge schedule, what are the minimum and maximum staffing needs?
  • Consider permit requirements and testing protocols. Operators cannot be in two places at one time, so do not underestimate the number of operators needed to perform required and mandated tasks.

Step Two: Identify Wastewater Operator Responsibilities, Duties and Situational Needs

  • Do all persons in your contingency plan have the necessary licenses to perform the required tasks?
  • Are all persons in your contingency plan familiar with the wastewater treatment plant standard operating procedures and safety protocols? Holding quarterly meetings for everyone included in your plan, both internal and third-party, is a necessity to keep everyone updated of any system changes, system upgrades, record keeping protocols and permit requirements.
  • What emergency situations warrant backup? From system failures to chemistry needs, identify situations when backup operations are warranted.

Step Three: Identify Internal and Third-Party Relief Operators

  • Does someone in a different department maintain a wastewater operator license to serve as backup?
  • Do you engage the services of a third party to serve as your backup or relief operators? Third-party operators meet the necessary licenses requirements, but also bring experience to your wastewater operations team.

Third-Party Contingency Staffing by Operators Unlimited.

Operators Unlimited understands the challenges of recruiting and training wastewater operators. OU trains and supplies operators for a variety of plant types, both physical/chemical and biological, and supports all plant operational needs.

Operational efficiency and compliance do not have to suffer when unexpected staffing situations arise. OU’s relief operators are trained to assess plant processes and fill in for your staff. Our experienced and licensed operators follow your facility processes and procedures.

Common occurrences for relief operators

  • Vacation Fill In
  • Unexpected Sickness
  • Coverage of Additional Shifts
  • Employee Turnover
  • Coverage for Employee Training
  • General Backup for Wastewater Team
  • Emergency Situations

An added benefit of using Operators Unlimited for contingency staffing is gaining the support of the entire Operators Unlimited team. All OU operators are fully supported by our engineering and operations teams. Solution-driven response is a cornerstone of our service offerings.

Waiting until your wastewater plant is shut down is not the time to consider your contingency staffing plan. Using Operators Unlimited as your third-party contingency staffing partner provides the ability to achieve predictable wastewater operational efficiency through licensed operational staffing, technical support and project management.

Developing a relief system for your wastewater treatment facility not only offers supervisors and plant managers peace of mind, but also helps alleviate employee dissatisfaction. Contact Operations Unlimited to schedule a plant survey and establish a contingency operations partnership.



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