This month see the start of Open Channel, a new way for gas engineers and Gas Safe Register to talk about some of the things that matter to you. We’ve talked to Scott Darroch, head of Strategic Communications and Engagement, to find out more about what it is and how you can get involved.
What is Open Channel?
The Open Channel is a new initiative from Gas Safe Register to help encourage debate and share ideas, and to help broaden the range of voices who contribute to those discussions.
Why is Gas Safe Register doing this?
The industry as a whole has many different mechanisms to feed back views, either directly or through representative bodies like the trade associations, informally through social media, and by personal interactions. And we felt there was space for something more too; something conversational where ideas and viewpoints could be explored. We really want to encourage two-way conversations with the Register.
How will Open Channel work?
We want to use a variety of channels with which engineers are already familiar, such as email, and Registered Gas Engineer magazine – but we also want to use new approaches such as hosted Facebook Live discussions.
The great advantage of using a variety of channels is that each has its own strengths, and to avoid duplication: sometimes you may want to explore a detailed technical point that is best covered in an email, and sometimes an emoji can be enough to make your feelings or opinion clear.
How can I get involved?
We want to make it easy for everyone to take part. For each topic, we will set aside a few weeks for people to submit their comments and questions, or to highlight areas where they’re seeking clarity. These can all be sent by email to RGEOpenChannel@GasSafeRegister.co.uk You can also write to us, pass on information via Gas Safe Register inspectors or any other reasonable route. We will use this to help shape a Facebook discussion, which, in turn, will no doubt produce more topics for consideration. We will then take all the information that’s been discussed and combine it into a report on the topic and publish it both in Registered Gas Engineer magazine and on Gas Safe Register’s website.
What kind of topics do you have planned?
We want to have a bit of variety. Not every topic needs to be about policy-level issues, and we want to be able dig into more practical day-to-day issues too. For example, if we were thinking about redesigning aspects of the Gas Safe Register ID card, it would be really great to hear how and where you use it, what do customers ask you about on
the card, and what other features or information do you think would be useful?
By the same token, there are some really big issues facing the industry, such as decarbonising the gas network – and we’d really like to hear your views on how we, as an industry, are preparing.
Can I suggest a topic?
Yes, we very much welcome this. We have identified a few areas for potential discussion as the Open Channel settles in, but we would like to hear your suggestions for other areas to cover. All we ask is that your suggested topic is relevant, interesting, and can enable an interesting and productive discussion.
Who will be involved from Gas Safe Register?
We will mix that up, depending on the topic, but we will aim to make sure that senior Gas Safe Register representatives are involved in the whole process. Where appropriate, we will also look to invite representatives of other organisations to take part.
What will you do with the questions asked, feedback and answers provided during sessions?
A lot will depend on the topic and the issues raised. Where someone has asked for more information on a topic, we will either provide that, or signpost to where it can be found. We anticipate that not every issue discussed will fall under the responsibility of Gas Safe Register: where that is the case, we will direct any enquiries to the most appropriate agency or organisation.
How will Gas Safe Register let engineers know which topics are coming up, and when they will be discussed?
We will use a multitude of channels to let you know about upcoming topics – including Registered Gas Engineer, Gas Safe’s social media channels, and the engineer e-newsletter. Your local inspector will be also be able to tell you what’s coming up.
What is the first topic?
Our first topic will be RIDDOR. We know that this is an area where many engineers have questions or points of view. We would love to hear from you – some starter questions could be:
• Do you understand what is RIDDOR-reportable and how to do that?
• What do you do when when you have concerns about gas work, but it does not meet the criteria for RIDDOR reporting?
Why should I get involved?
We hope you will want to join in the discussions and we encourage you to do so. But even if you don’t, we aim to ensure that you find the subjects interesting and useful.