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Issue12 | Spring 2009 | ÂŁ5.00

New era for the Electrical Safety Council




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riting this welcome note on a wet morning in February, the priority on everyone’s mind is the recession that seems to be getting ever deeper. The depression in the economy will have far reaching effects and of course the electrical installation industry always seems to be one of the first sectors to feel the pinch when there is a downturn in business fortunes.


The charity sector is also feeling the effects of the recession, with donations to good causes falling away as the public and major donors tighten their purse strings and reduce their giving. The Electrical Safety Council is not immune to the effects of the recession. Whilst we have

the good fortune to receive generous funding from the NICEIC Group, efforts must also be made to secure other sources of income to reduce the pressure on our primary donor as it takes measures to support its customers during these difficult times.

Turning to our work with partners, in conjunction with RoSPA and Intertek we have been successful in persuading the government to fund a pilot programme to re-establish the collection of meaningful UK accident data. There’s more about this on page 11.

Under the stewardship of its Trustees and the Director General, the Council has developed a new corporate strategy to strengthen both organisations over the next five years. For the Electrical Safety Council, this will mean developing its independence from the NICEIC Group, and exploring new and improved safety initiatives.

We are also continuing to make significant progress in developing relationships across the UK. In particular, we have embarked on an ambitious public affairs programme in Scotland to raise awareness amongst MSPs. This has seen early success and will help us to deliver safety messages to Scottish users of electricity.

The opportunities are wide ranging, and everyone involved is committed to making the strategy a living document while continuing to maintain our core values. The strategy is outlined in my article on pages 8 & 9.

Working in Scotland with our partner SELECT, we have also recently supplied safety isolating kits to 1000 electricians as part of our support for the seminars that are being given by SELECT and the HSE to encourage the adoption of safer working practices when working on electrical installations.

But now to our achievements over the past few months. With many people facing financial hardship, we have been working hard to help vulnerable groups in the community. Campaign activity has included funding electric blanket testing at 17 venues throughout the UK, replacing over 1284 faulty blankets to help protect elderly people. And we’ve provided home improvement grants to raise the standard of electrical installations in households that are unable to afford essential safety improvements.



herry Read has joined our Campaigns Division in January to head up the charity’s campaigns and communications activity.

Cherry joined us from communications agency Munro & Forster, where she led campaigns for organisations including the Department of Health.

Her remit covers consumer and trade campaigns to help reduce electrical accidents, together with communications to build the charity’s profile, reputation and influence.

Commenting on her new role, Cherry said: “It remains vitally important to maintain high standards in the industry and to help consumers become safer around electricity. I am delighted to be in a position to help the charity fulfil its purpose.”

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On a final note, I would like to welcome Cherry Read, our new Head of Communications and Campaigns, who brings a range of skills and experience that will help us further strengthen our work and create new opportunities to raise awareness of safety issues over the coming years. Phil Buckle As always, we would welcome feedback on the content of Switched On – Please send your comments to




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Products put to the test... see page 12

issue 12 Spring ‘09

switchedon industry news


your insight into the electrical safety industry


New comms chief Also, Welcome


News in brief Also, Best Practice Guide online seminar


Ecodesign requirements for household equipment Also, Events in 2009, Man electrocuted

Gas Safe RegisterTM replaces CORGI register Also, Electric blanket campaign 2008


Read all about it!


New guidance for reporting on the condition of domestic installations

11 Have you ever been asked ….? Also, Accident data breakthrough welcomed

New era for the Electrical Safety Council


Products put to the test

14 Improving consumer information in the Home Information Pack Also, Upkeep

15 Electrical Installation Forum 16 New Code of practice for fire

safety in the design, management and use of buildings

attempting to repair washing machine



18 More potentially dangerous travel adaptors discovered

fire safety guidance aims to 19 Home save 300 lives a year Also, Terrier hailed as a house fire hero


Electrical quiz – what’s your current level of knowledge?

Published by: The Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6LB Tel: 0870 040 0561 Fax: 0870 040 0560 email: SwitchedOn 3




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NEWS IN BRIEF Tougher penalties for breaching health and safety law A new Act came into force in January which increases penalties and provides courts with greater sentencing powers for those who break health and safety law. The Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 gives lower courts the power to impose higher fines for some health and safety offences. It is intended to be a real deterrent to those businesses and individuals that do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the many employers who do manage health and safety well have nothing to fear from the change in law. There are no new duties on employers or businesses, and HSE is not changing its approach to how it enforces health and safety law. However, the HSE will continue to target those who knowingly cut corners, put lives at risk and who gain commercial advantage over competitors by failing to comply with the law.

and SELECT, is to remind contractors of their legal responsibilities in respect of safe electrical working practice on construction sites. The Health & Safety Executive, which was also consulted in the preparation and review of the leaflet, recommends the adoption of the information it contains. The leaflet, which has been awarded the Crystal Mark by the Plain English Campaign, is available as a download from the ‘Business & Community’ section of our website.

BEST PRACTICE GUIDE ONLINE SEMINAR ast December, in partnership with Electrical and Mechanical Contractor (EMC) magazine, we held an online seminar (‘webinar’) about the impact that electrical installation work can have on the fire performance of domestic premises, which is the subject of the fifth of our series of Best Practice Guides.


Alternatively, up to 100 printed copies can be requested free of charge on request to .

The Electrical Safety Roadshow 2009 Our roadshow trailer will be travelling the UK again this year to give advice and information to consumers to raise their awareness of electrical safety issues and the need to use competent electricians to carry out electrical work.

The effect of the new Act is to:

raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences

make imprisonment an option for more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts

allow certain offences, which currently can be tried only in the lower courts, to be tried in either the lower or higher courts.

Using electricity safely in the construction industry Our ‘Electrical safety in construction’ leaflet has been updated and re-titled ‘Using electricity safely in the construction industry – a short guide on safe isolation practices’ .

The purpose of the leaflet, which was produced in association with the ECA, NICEIC 4 SwitchedOn

To see the full roadshow programme, visit the ‘Events’ page of our website,

Our Technical Director and Editor of Switched On, Mike Clark, Peter Jackman, Technical Director of International Fire Consultants Group and Beryl Menzies, Vice President of the Association of Building Engineers, examined the issues surrounding this complex topic and answered emailed questions in a live Q&A session. The event was hosted by EMC’s Editor, Andrew Brister.

Christmas roadshow Our roadshow trailer made a mini tour of town centres during November and December last year, giving us the opportunity to talk to many Christmas shoppers about safety issues when buying and using decorative lighting, electric blankets and other electrical equipment around the home. We welcomed over 3,500 visitors to the trailer, giving out over 5,000 leaflets and children’s fun packs as well as plug-in RCDs, electrical safety DVDs and chocolate santas!

The webinar provided practical advice and guidance for designers and contractors involved in electrical work that requires the penetration of linings forming ceilings and walls. The guidance is aimed at preserving the fire separation between areas and the structural stability of the premises. If you missed the free webinar, which attracted much interest at the time, you can still view it via a link on the ‘Business and Community’ page on our website, so log on at your convenience to learn more about this important subject.




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ECODESIGN REQUIREMENTS FOR HOUSEHOLD EQUIPMENT t is estimated that, without taking specific measures, the annual electricity consumption related to standby functionalities and ‘off mode’ losses in electrical and electronic household and office equipment products sold in the European Community will increase to 49 TWh in 2020, which is equivalent to almost 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.


Last December, in an effort to significantly reduce these figures, the European Commission introduced a Regulation which established new ecodesign requirements relating to the standby and ‘off mode’ power consumption in new electrical and electronic household and office equipment.

Effectively, the Regulation requires that, from January 2010, power consumption in ‘off mode’ shall not exceed 1.0 W, reducing to 0.5 W in January 2013 It also requires that, again by January 2010, the power consumption of equipment in any condition providing a reactivation function, whether or not in conjunction with an indication of enabled reactivation function, shall not exceed 1.0 W, or, if there

is also an information or status display, 2.0 W. These limits will reduce to 0.5 W and 1.0 W respectively in January 2013. For further information, refer to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008, published in the Official Journal of the European Union dated 18 December 2008.

EVENTS IN 2009 e have another full and varied events calendar for the rest of this year. As well as exhibiting at consumer events such as the Homebuilding & Renovating Show and Gardeners World, we are attending the five Elex events where we will be pleased to provide practical advice and guidance to contractors both on our stand and at the seminars.


It is important to ensure that we continue to take all opportunities to influence key decision makers, including Ministers and MPs, about electrical safety issues and industry practice, and gain support for our campaigns. We are therefore attending the three major political party conferences later in the year.




Grand Designs Elex 2009* Scottish Home Building and Renovating show* Gardeners World Elex 2009* Trading Standards Conference Elex 2009* Liberal Democrats’ Party Conference Labour Party Conference Conservative Party Conference Elex 2009*

Excel, London West Point, Exeter

25 April - 4 May 30 April - 1 May

SECC, Glasgow NEC, Birmingham SECC, Glasgow Brighton Conference Centre Ricoh Arena, Coventry BIC, Bournemouth Brighton Conference Centre Manchester Central Complex Sandown Park, Surrey

16-17 May 10-14 June 11-12 June 30 June-2 July 17-18 September 19-23 September 26-30 September 5-8 October 1-2 December

We have free tickets available for those events marked*, which can be requested via our email address.



n inquest in January heard how a 47 yearold power station engineer from Sussex had been electrocuted at home last July as he tried to repair the family washing machine.

causing him to stagger across the kitchen before collapsing. His partner, who saw the incident, called an ambulance, but the paramedics were unable to resuscitate him.

He had pulled the machine out and removed the top cover in an attempt to repair a fault in the door latch. His arm had come into contact with a live part inside the machine,

The circuit was not protected by an RCD, though such additional protection has since been installed.

The coroner, in reaching a verdict of death by misadventure, said: “Hopefully, anyone hearing the facts of this case, however qualified they think they are, will think twice before attempting to repair a household appliance themselves.”

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GAS SAFE REGISTERTM REPLACES THE CORGI REGISTER ast year, the Health and Safety Executive announced changes to the gas installer registration scheme in England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme operated by CORGI was replaced on 1 April by the new Gas Safe Register operated by Capita.


The Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by the HSE from 1 April under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. All gas installers wanting to undertake domestic gas work in Great Britain from 1 April therefore need, under those Regulations, to be registered with this new scheme in order to be able lawfully to carry out any work on gas fittings, which includes gas appliances. There is no period of dual running of the CORGI gas register and Gas Safe Register, and no grace period. Gas Safe Register will maintain an up-todate register of gas installers who are

qualified to install or repair gas fittings and appliances. It will have systems in place to check the competence of gas installers, inspect their work and to deal with complaints about unsafe gas work. The operation of the Gas Safe Register will be overseen by the HSE as the regulator with responsibility for gas safety. This means that from 1 April, in order to ensure that gas installers are lawfully able to carry out the gas work, domestic users of gas should ask for a Gas Safe Registered Engineer and not any other. The CORGI register will no longer count for those purposes. The new gas safety brand, which was commissioned by Capita, has been signed over to the the HSE, which will hold it in trust to ensure that it will remain the official mark for the gas safety register. Gas Safe Register is focused on gas safety and will campaign to raise public awareness

of gas safety risks associated with using illegal gas installers. Capita has committed to achieving 40 per cent unprompted brand recognition for Gas Safe Register by October this year. Geoffrey Podger, Chief Executive of the HSE, said: "We welcome the development of this new brand which will focus exclusively on improving consumer gas safety, and believe it will be a cost effective scheme for installers. We urge the industry and other stakeholders to do all they can to support its promotion to consumers as the 'hallmark' of gas safety." Gas Safe Register will provide a service allowing registered engineers to report gas work that is notifiable under the Building Regulations.

ELECTRIC BLANKET CAMPAIGN 2008 ollowing on from the initial report of the 2008 electric blanket campaign in the winter issue of Switched On, we can now give an analysis of the reasons why many of the blankets failed the inspection and testing process.


cables/connectors: Almost 7% • Power of blankets were found to be faulty for a variety of reasons relating to the cables and connectors, including parts of the equipment that were either missing or broken.

Description of failures Overheat protection

protection: 40% of blankets • Overheat tested had either no, or faulty, overheat protection systems. Blankets having no overheat protection were likely to be ten or more years old operation: 10% of blankets • Controller were found to be faulty because parts of the controller were broken or the neon indicator light failed to operate when tested routing/bonding: Almost 7% • Element of blankets failed due to the overall condition of the glued parts of the material having come unstuck, thereby either exposing the heating elements or failing to hold them in position

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In a few cases it was possible to make minor repairs, such as refitting the plug for blankets that were otherwise in a satisfactory condition.


Element routing/bonding


Power cable/connectors Controller operation Power consumption Mechanical thermostat

The figures in the schedule now include the total number events undertaken as part of the campaign, as well as a number of other events sponsored by the Council. In all, 2243 blankets were tested, of which 1284 were replaced.


Fabric/ties/fixing points Mains plug/fitted fuse

In summary, the main reasons for blanket failures were:


Flash test No specified reason

2 86 122 2 17 2 24

Due to age (specifically)


Recalled blankets




Grand Totals Failed blankets Minor faults (rectified) Passed

1284 4 955

Grand total


Percentage failed





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READ ALL ABOUT IT! he media play a key role in helping us spread electrical safety information to consumers. Our public relations agency is very active in putting out regular reports and topical consumer advice to the media, as well as handling incoming enquiries from journalists.


Between the New Year and the beginning of February, the Electrical Safety Council had already featured in more than 600 editorial items in print and broadcast media, reaching an audience of more than 74 million people!

A year in the media Last summer, we enlisted the help of travel expert, writer and broadcaster Simon Calder to alert holidaymakers to the dangers of buying cheap and possibly counterfeit electrical goods while on holiday.

Our own research revealed that one in four people had purchased electrical goods abroad, with 66% of those rating cost over safety. But, while a fake Prada handbag or rip-off Nike shoes can only damage your wallet, buying cheap, untested and poorly manufactured electrical goods could pose a serious risk to safety. “I was delighted to be involved in the Electrical Safety Council’s valuable work to help travellers reduce the risks they take,” said Simon. “My part in the campaign was to get the crucial message through that you should never take chances when buying electrical goods abroad, however tempting the apparent savings. Working with the team, I hope we got that message across.” And get the message across we did, with interviews on 18 BBC radio stations and coverage in both the Sunday Mirror and The Observer, reaching a combined audience of over 4.5 million people.

Since then, there are have been a number of seasonal topics that have generated column inches. Heavy rainfall as summer turned to autumn once again led to flooding in certain regions of the country, keeping our press office busy disseminating essential safety advice about water damaged electrics in the home to the local media in Northern Ireland, Wales and the South West. Electric blanket safety was a key focus for the press office throughout autumn with 40 news stories about the Council’s blanket testing days appearing in media local to the events. Aside from the testing days themselves, the general issues surrounding electric blanket safety have featured in popular magazines such as Good Housekeeping, guiding readers to further information in the form of our leaflet on the subject. As Christmas time approached, we turned our attention to festive lights and the hazards of ‘housebling’. Whether indulging in a few twinkling icicles around doors and windows or a full-on festive extravaganza covering every inch of brick, complete with flashing reindeer on the roof, we wanted to make sure that if people were planning on using festive lights to decorate their homes, they did it safely. Our survey finding that one in four people were planning to ‘bling-up’ their homes certainly captured the media’s imagination and lead to a staggering 147 radio interviews on the subject, totalling more than 9 hours of airtime! Meanwhile national newspapers including the Daily Mail and The Telegraph sought us out to provide expert comment on the issue of Christmas light safety within their news pages. Interspersing these activities is a continual dialogue with an incredibly broad range of media to provide expert opinion, comment and general advice on issues from socket covers to DIY dangers, two-pin plugs to employing electricians, landlords’ legal obligations to reliability of RCDs, and much more besides. To keep up to date with our latest press information, visit the news and events section of our website

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New era for the Electric Phil Buckle

helping us to “become a beacon of partnership working, good governance and sound financial practice...”

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ajor changes lie ahead for the Electrical Safety Council, as work gets underway to review the organisation’s structure and to expand its charitable remit. In this article, Phil Buckle, Director of Charitable Affairs, looks to the future.


Yet we also knew that our strategy would need to be developed over time, shaped by the influences that came our way and the opportunities we made. This strategic review further shapes the priorities that will guide our work and against which we will measure our success.

In the recent annual review of our corporate strategy, the charity’s Trustees set out some exciting new ambitions. These include two longterm goals: greater independence from the NICEIC Group, and a widening of the charity’s remit to include safety issues relating to other energy sources.

Greater independence means consumers and industry will trust us more, making it easier to achieve our core aims. Achieving this requires us to take steps to distinguish our governance functions from the NICEIC Group, which distributes profits to the charity.

The move was not unexpected. It builds on our existing five-year strategy to make the Electrical Safety Council a more enterprising charity, better able to meet its core purposes of helping consumers to use electricity safely, and promoting good practice in the industry. That strategy is already helping us to become a beacon of partnership working, good governance and sound financial practice. And our determination to become financially sustainable remains as strong as ever.

There will also be a change in focus for Jim Speirs, who has relinquished his role as Director General of the Electrical Safety Council, but continues as Executive Chairman of the commercial operations of the trading group. This will send a strong signal of the Trustees’ determination to strengthen the charity’s independence. Jim explains: "By gaining and asserting more independence, the Electrical Safety Council will be better able to forge new partnerships and champion the interests of consumers. Meanwhile, at the NICEIC Group, we will be working to strengthen our market position and provide more funding to the charity."




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ectrical Safety Council "There will be challenges along the way. There always are. But the approach makes sense. And I'm more excited than ever about the future." The move will be supplemented by operational changes, such as phasing out co-location and dual roles for staff, re-asserting the charity’s core values, and having distinct representation on external committees. Widening the remit of the charity will require detailed plans to be drawn up for each of the options under consideration. These include expanding the charity’s activities into electrical product safety, other energy sources, and a wider geographical area. Of course, we will carefully consider our options in moving forward. Any changes in remit will also need to be specified in our Memorandum and Articles of Association, which set out the approved purpose and rules governing the charity. And to meet the requirement that no staff member has a role that spans both the Electrical Safety Council and the NICEIC Group, we are appointing a new Director General to lead the charity forward.

As we enter this new era, it seems timely to review some of the charity’s major successes over the last few years. These include developing Best Practice Guides for the industry, educating primary school children about safety, and providing grants to help disadvantaged people get safer electrical installations. I know that Jim Speirs, who has been at the helm of the Electrical Safety Council since its inception, is proud to have played a role in creating a powerful body for consumer safety. And I am also supremely confident that he will further strengthen commercial activities at the NICEIC Group over the next few years, so continuing to provide the charity with invaluable funding.

a widening of “ the charity’s remit to include safety issues relating to other energy sources...”

To achieve the ambitions of this strategy, we will be expanding into areas in which we have experience, drawing on the expertise of our people and working with like-minded partners. In doing that, we’ll achieve our core aim of helping to keep more people safe. Full details of the new strategy can be found at

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NEW GUIDANCE ON CONDITION REPORTS FOR DOMESTIC ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS In the previous issue of Switched On, we reported on a range of initiatives we are taking to help improve the general standard of domestic periodic inspection reporting. In addition to, and in support of, those initiatives, we have now produced a series of free guidance sheets for consumers and electricians, to clarify what each party should expect from the other when a report is required on the condition of a domestic electrical installation.

‘Domestic electrical installation condition reports – Information for customers’ includes information and guidance on:

to get a quote for your electrical • how installation condition report • how to order your report happens during inspection and • what testing, and to do after you receive your • what condition report.

• Changes made to the property or installation for example to check the • Testing, following: • Continuity of circuit protective conductors • Continuity of protective bonding conductors • Continuity of ring final circuit conductors • Insulation resistance • Polarity

The main guidance for consumers is provided as a leaflet, ‘Guide to condition reports for domestic electrical installations’, which answers the following questions:

• Earth fault loop impedance. • Earth electrode resistance (where applicable) tests, for example to check the • Functional following:

• What is an electrical installation? do I need to get the electrical • Why installation in my home (or the home that I am planning to buy) checked?

• • What is the aim of a condition report? types of condition report are • What normally produced for homes? should produce your condition • Who report? • How can I order my condition report? How old is my electrical installation?

The consumers’ leaflet also contains an explanation of the technical terms used in it, such as ‘condition report’, ‘consumer unit’, ‘periodic inspection report’, ‘residual current device’ and ‘visual condition report’. The leaflet is supported by the following information sheets:

electrical installation condition • Domestic reports – Information for customers electrical installation condition • Domestic reports – Information for electricians electrical installation condition • Domestic report quotation request form.

• RCDs ‘Domestic electrical installation condition reports – Information for electricians’ includes information and guidance on the following topics:

• Extent of the installation to be inspected • Meeting the requirements of BS 7671 • Condition report forms • Dangers • Dangerous conditions to the installation of the • Disturbance property and its owner (or occupier) • Questions • Changes which could get damaged • Equipment during testing • Safety • Isolation of supplies for example to check the • Inspection, following:

• Isolation and switching devices.

‘Domestic electrical installation condition report quotation request form’ is a form for consumers to send to electricians to obtain quotations for either: visual condition report, which includes • ainspection but not testing, or a periodic inspection (including • inspection and testing),report which we recommend in most cases.

• Joints and connections • Conductors • Flexible cables and cords • Accessories and switchgear • Protection against thermal effects • SELV • Basic protection • Fault protection • Protective devices • Enclosures and mechanical protection • Marking and labelling

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• Circuit-breakers

All the guidance leaflets and sheets mentioned in this article can be viewed on, or downloaded from, our website, The guidance for consumers has been awarded the Crystal Mark by the Plain English Campaign.




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HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ASKED …. WHY DO RCDs SOMETIMES TRIP UNNECESSARILY? Residual current devices (RCDs) are used extensively in installations to provide fault protection and/or additional protection against electric shock. Since the introduction of the 17th Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations most, if not all, final circuits in a new or rewired installation in domestic premises need to be provided with additional protection by an RCD having a rated residual operating current (IΔn) of 30 mA and an operating time not exceeding 40 ms at 5 IΔn.

certain items of Class I (earthed) equipment during their normal operation. Such items include equipment incorporating:

electrical noise (radio frequency) suppression filters, such as personal computers, hi-fi equipment, TVs, DVDs and the like

heating elements, such as cookers, water heaters or radiant heaters

motors, such as fridges and freezers.

While RCDs provide an enhanced level of shock protection, precautions should be taken to avoid unwanted tripping of the devices on healthy circuits. Repeated unwanted tripping is likely to damage user confidence in RCDs, and has been known to result in them being bypassed by frustrated consumers.

To avoid unwanted tripping, RCDs should be so selected and circuits so subdivided that any protective conductor current expected to occur during normal operation of the load(s) will be unlikely to cause tripping of the device. It is worth noting that product standards permit certain equipment, such as personal computers, to create up to 3 mA of leakage current in the protective conductor.

Unwanted tripping of RCDs can be caused by the currents that may flow in the protective conductors of circuits supplying

In order to minimise the risk of unwanted tripping of RCDs, the number of items of protective conductor current-generating

equipment per circuit, and the number of circuits served by each RCD, need to be sufficiently small. As a rule of thumb, tripping of an RCD may result if the total protective conductor current in the circuit(s) it serves exceeds 50% of its rated residual operating current, that is 15 mA for a 30 mA device.

ACCIDENT DATA BREAKTHROUGH WELCOMED ast December, the results of a year-long study, commissioned jointly by the Electrical Safety Council, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Intertek RAM, and supported by the Department of Health, were presented to Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health.


We are pleased to report that, based on the findings of the research, the Department of Health has agreed to instigate a pilot study to explore how information about people visiting hospital after an accident might best be collected. The former Department of Trade and Industry had been collecting this data through the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance Systems (HASS and LASS) until 2002 but, regrettably, no UK-wide accident data has been collected since then.

However, the old HASS and LASS data reveals that in the UK in 2002, 2.7 million people visited hospital after an accident in the home, and 2.9 million following a leisure accident. At that time, the estimated cost to society of accidents to children at home was £9.46 billion - seven times more than the cost of children's road accidents. The establishment of a new, coordinated and sustainable UK-wide approach to the collection of accident and injury data is essential. We and other safety bodies need to be able to determine the true costs of accidents, both in terms of the misery being suffered by victims and their families, and the financial burden on them and on society as a whole.

Without this information, we are unable to prioritise new injury prevention campaigns such as raising awareness of everyday hazards, or campaigning for new product safety regulations. It is also impossible without such data to measure the effect of such campaigns on injury rates. We have been instrumental in driving forward the campaign to re-introduce the UK-wide collection of injury data, and have provided a major proportion of the necessary financial support to fund the research into the setting up and continued maintenance of a UK database of home accident and injury statistics. The findings of the study, entitled Feasibility of Establishing a UK Wide Injury Database, can be found in the ‘Business and Community’ section of our website .

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Products put to the test … As part of our ongoing product testing programme, we arranged last year for electrical safety assessments to be carried out on a selection of toasters, air fresheners, night lights, outdoor grills and outdoor lighting products under the general provisions of the relevant safety standards. All of the products tested were bought from high street retailers. The same checks were carried out on each product in accordance with the relevant product standards. In particular we were inspecting and testing for: •


Marking and instructions

Protection against access to live parts

Leakage current and electric strength

Stability and mechanical hazards

Mechanical strength


Internal wiring

Supply and connection and external flexible cords

Provision for earthing

Clearances, creepage distances and solid insulation

Ejector mechanisms (for toasters only)

For toasters with a crumb tray, the standard requires that it is not possible to touch live parts through the crumb tray opening with a standard test probe. From the illustration below, it can be seen that, in this instance, it is possible to touch live parts.

Application of test probe

Probe touching live parts

For the same toaster, an observation was made that the crumb tray had sharp edges that might be hazardous during user cleaning.

Outdoor lighting Outdoor lighting products were selected for screening because they are used in areas of increased shock risk such as gardens, patios, decking and the like. Departures from the standard marking requirements were found for four of the six samples tested.

Toasters were selected because cooking appliances can pose a high risk to consumers, and there are many available on the market at very low cost. Of the six toasters tested, only one was found to be non-compliant with the product standard in that it did not have adequate protection against access to live parts.

The product standard for lighting chains requires information about replacement lamps and safe connection methods to be marked on the product, or on a non-


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Although marking departures of this nature may not necessarily be considered as safety critical, in certain circumstances they may give rise to a hazard. Plug-in air fresheners

Two of the lighting samples were not marked with a ‘mark of origin’ which may take the form of a trade mark, the manufacturer’s identification mark or the name of the responsible vendor, and one sample was not marked with the maker’s model number or type reference. An example of both omissions is illustrated here.

The products

removable sleeve or label fitted to the cable. Inspection revealed that this information was omitted on two of the samples tested.

Plug-in air fresheners were selected due to concerns raised over their potential to be a fire hazard. Two of the samples failed safety screening due to the absence of appropriate warnings in the user instruction manuals, and one sample failed to provide adequate mechanical strength to prevent access to live parts. It is important that a plug-in air freshener is only used with the recommended vaporising medium as the use of other substances may give rise to a toxic or fire risk. In two cases, the user instructions did not include this warning, which is required by the standard. The standard also requires that plug-in air fresheners have adequate mechanical strength and be constructed to withstand such rough handling as may be expected in normal use. For one sample, inspection after mechanical strength testing revealed enclosure damage sufficient to allow access to live parts with a standard test finger, as shown below.

Access to live parts with test finger




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Outdoor electric grills Outdoor electric grills were selected because they are a seasonal product that are likely to be used frequently during the summer (weather permitting!). Wet conditions and contact between users and the ground results in the risk of injury or death from electric shock being much greater than is the case when using electrical equipment indoors. It is therefore important that electric grills designed for use outdoors are provided with a greater degree of protection against ingress of water, and that additional warnings are given in the user instructions. The ingress protection rating required by the product standard for outdoor grills is ‘IPX4’, meaning ‘splash proof’. It was therefore disappointing to find that all of the outdoor grills tested failed the classification requirements of the standard, in that none of them were marked with their ingress protection rating. A typical example is shown here. Furthermore, for one of the samples, the following essential safety advice was omitted from the manufacturer’s instructions: •

the appliance should be supplied through a residual current device (RCD) having a rated residual operating current not exceeding 30 mA

The appliance is to be connected to a socket-outlet having an earthing contact (for Class I appliances).

Plug-in nightlights This type of product was selected for testing following concerns raised by Trading Standards over potentially dangerous plug-in nightlights. In a case reported last year, a child suffered severe electrical burns from a nightlight that

fractured in use, exposing live elements of the lamp. There has also been a product recall of a particular type of nightlight due to plug pins breaking off in use. Our investigations revealed that five of the six samples tested failed to meet the requirements for marking and/or construction given in the relevant product standard. Problems found included the absence of fuses to provide overcurrent protection, products being shaped or decorated such that they are likely to be treated as a toy by children, incorrect plug dimensions and marking omissions. None of the five nightlights that failed were fitted with a suitable fuse to provide overcurrent protection, and two of the samples were considered to exhibit child-appealing attributes, which are likely to present a danger if played with like a toy. In addition to the above departures, for the nightlight decorated with a “Winnie the Pooh” character, the distance between the periphery of the plug and the live plug-pins was found to be less than that required by the standard. The same sample was also not marked with a mark of origin. This marking omission was found on one other sample. Other information omissions found included not being marked with the maker’s model number or type reference, and the absence of information regarding lamp replacement. The nightlights were assessed against the requirements of a product standard specifically applicable to mains socket-outlet mounted nightlights - BS EN 60598-2-12, published in June 2006. The standard has been available to manufacturers since April 2006, and compliance with the standard supports a presumption of conformity under the safety objectives of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations for UK market products from June 2006. Prior to the publication of this latest standard, nightlights were typically tested under an

earlier and more general standard which did not require a fuse to be fitted or ‘child appealing’ attributes to be considered. The date of withdrawal for national standards conflicting with BS EN 60598-2-12 has been established as April this year. The products we tested may therefore not have been made to the latest standard for nightlights. From the legal viewpoint, a manufacturer of a nightlight conforming to the requirements of the earlier standard would still benefit from a presumption of conformity with the Regulations until April, when that earlier standard ceases to provide such a presumption of conformity. Action plan We are following up all the identified failures, as products that are available to the public should comply with the relevant product standards and legal requirements in all respects. To this end, we are liaising with the retailers and manufacturers concerned, and keeping the relevant authorities informed of our actions. We hope to receive positive responses from these retailers and manufacturers leading to appropriate action being taken to ensure that only safe products are placed on the market. As a final resort with all product safety screening we carry out, we will notify the relevant authorities where we consider that appropriate action is not being taken by those in the supply chain responsible for the safety of electrical appliances. The full laboratory test reports, together with general advice for the safe use and installation of all the products tested can be viewed on our website at: Anyone who has reason to believe they have purchased an unsafe electrical product should contact their local authority trading standards office in the first instance. However, we would also like to hear from anyone regarding any general concerns about the safety of electrical products. Please send details to: SwitchedOn 13




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IMPROVING CONSUMER INFORMATION IN THE HOME INFORMATION PACK n the winter issue of Switched On, we reported on our response to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation paper entitled ‘Improved Consumer Information in the Home Information Pack’.


The paper proposed the inclusion of a ‘Property Information Questionnaire’ (PIQ) as a required document in the Home Information Pack (HIP). The PIQ would replace the existing ‘Home Use Form’ which is currently an authorised document in the HIP. The purpose of the PIQ is to help consumers to make informed choices about buying a property by giving them information, when

they want it, before they have committed time and money to the purchase of the property. Whilst expressing our general support for this initiative, we voiced our surprise and concern that the proposed PIQ did not include any questions relating to electrical safety or to Part P. At the end of last year, following the consultation, Housing Minister Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP announced that the Property Information Questionnaire would become a mandatory part of the HIP for all properties put on the market from 6 April.

We are pleased to report that the PIQ now includes an electrical question for the seller to answer, as shown above. Whilst a small victory, we feel it is a significant achievement for our electrical safety campaigning. For full details about the Property Information Questionnaire, visit: housing/propertyinformationquestionnaire

UPKEEP n the winter 2007 issue of Switched On, we reported that we were working with the charity ‘Upkeep’ to add safety information to the electrical display they had built with the help of the Electrical Contractors’ Association.


Upkeep is an educational charity based at The Building Centre in central London, where it has a permanent exhibition about buildings and how to look after them. Visitors can see full-sized displays of sections of buildings and building services, as well as gather information about home maintenance and environmental sustainability. Upkeep delivers a busy programme of training courses to about 2,000 people each year, using the exhibition as a learning resource. Course participants can use the exhibits to learn how buildings work. As well as introducing important electrical safety information to the display, which shows a complete domestic electrical installation, we have refurbished it to make it more interesting and realistic for visitors and those attending training courses.

14 SwitchedOn

As can be seen from the ‘before and after’ photographs, the refurbishment has made the display a real focal point of the exhibition. The new messaging, which includes energy saving tips as well as electrical information and safety warning signs, has made it easier to understand.

To find out more about Upkeep, visit their website at or see their exhibition at The Building Centre in London, to which admission is free of charge.

In return for our help in refurbishing and enhancing their display, Upkeep distribute our safety leaflets to their visitors, and include information about the Electrical Safety Council and our electrical safety DVD in the training packs for their Domestic Electrical and Heating Installations course. This course is part of the Upkeep/City & Guilds Certificate for Repair Staff, which is available to people working for housing providers, contractors, property companies and estate agents.







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ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION FORUM Industry-wide guidance he industry-wide guidance on the application of BS 7671 provided by the Electrical Installation Forum continues to be a major attraction on our website, the number of visitors to the Q&A section being second only to those viewing and downloading the Best Practice Guides. There were over 5000 visitors to the section during January alone.


The answers to several new questions have been added to the website since the previous issue of Switched On was published, including:

• • •

In a location containing a shower, what is the horizontal limit of zone 1 for showers without a basin? Is it acceptable to use an unfixed connector block to join the line or neutral conductors at a light switch? If a dwelling has an existing consumer unit with an integral main switch, and an electric shower is connected by means of a second consumer unit with an integral main switch, is another ‘main switch’ required to isolate both consumer units simultaneously? When carrying out an alteration or addition to an existing installation protected by a voltage-operated earthleakage circuit-breaker, can that device be used to provide electric shock protection for the new work?

For the industry-agreed answers to these and many other commonly-asked questions relating to the application of the requirements of the 17th Edition, visit

Visitors to the site will also see that the original answer to the question ‘Can I carry out an alteration or addition to an existing installation that has inadequate earthing and/or bonding arrangements?’ has been amended in the light of feedback. It’s worth revisiting the site at least every couple of months to see what additions and amendments have been made. Mounting height of consumer units After a very long delay, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has answered a question from the Forum concerning the influence, if any, the Building Regulations for England and Wales has on the mounting height of consumer units in new dwellings.

unlikely that in most common building situations it will be necessary to locate them at an accessible height in order to comply with building regulations. Consequently, although the guidance in Approved Document P, 'Electrical safety - dwellings', is that consumer units should be located so that they are easily reachable where this is necessary to comply with Part M of the Building Regulations, the circumstances in which a reachable location is necessary to comply with Part M are likely to be limited. However, mounting controls for the purpose of accessibility might be considered good practice (rather than a regulatory requirement), and paragraphs 10.5.1 and 10.5.2 of BS 8300: 2001 give further guidance, including:

This has long been an area of confusion and debate in industry circles, as there appears to be conflicting guidance in the Approved Documents for Part P (Electrical safety – dwellings) and Part M (Access to and use of buildings).

The question we asked was “In newly-erected dwellings, are consumer units subject to the provisions for accessibility set out in Approved Document M (that is, should the operating devices for the switches, circuit-breakers and RCDs in consumer units be at a height of no more than 1200 mm above finished floor level)?”

The response goes on to state that: “We (DCLG) are in the process of amending Approved Document P to bring it into line with BS 7671: 2008. As you have identified, Approved Document P calls for consumer units to be accessible in order to comply with Part M requirements. In order to remove any confusion we are considering revising the wording in Approved Document P where this refers to consumer units and Part M.”

Unfortunately, the DCLG response provides no definitive answer. In part, it states: “In most cases, Building Control Bodies are likely to apply the guidance in Approved Document M (AD M) and, given that the location of consumer units is not mentioned in AD M, it is

All switches and controls that require manual dexterity should be between 750mm and 1000mm from the floor, and The maximum height of simple push button controls which require limited dexterity should be 1200mm.”

We will report on any further developments in this area in future issues of Switched On.






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NEW CODE OF PRACTICE FOR FIRE SAFETY IN THE DESIGN, MANAGEMENT AND USE OF BUILDINGS he British Standards Institution (BSI) has published a new code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings, aptly numbered BS 9999: 2008.


Developed from the BS 5588 series, which themselves were based on earlier codes of practice developed from post-second world war studies, BS 9999 is useful for architects, designers of fire safety systems, designers of electrical installations, and facilities managers. The Building Regulations for England and Wales require that a building is designed and constructed so that there are appropriate provisions for the early warning of fire, and appropriate means of escape from the building to a place of safety in case of fire.

BS 9999 does not apply to single dwellings, for which documents such as Approved Document B or the LACORS ‘Housing – fire safety’ booklet (see the article on page 19) are considered to provide adequate guidance. However, BS 9999 may be applied to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The purpose of BS 9999 is to provide guidance which: •

offers a more transparent and flexible approach to fire safety design using a structured approach, allowing the designer to take account of varying physical and human factors is based on fire safety engineering but does not require the designer to be a fire engineer.

It offers a coordinated package covering: •

fire safety management,

the provision for means of escape,

the structural protection of escape facilities, and

the structural stability of the building in the event of fire and the provision of access and facilities for fire-fighting.

The code of practice provides guidance for designers and managers of facilities to ensure the fire safety of a building over its lifetime. The basic fire safety strategy is decided at the outset of the design process to ensure design, construction and management processes can be coordinated.

Similarly, in Scotland, Section 2 of the Technical Handbook requires that buildings are designed and constructed in such a way that the risk of fire is reduced and, if a fire does occur, that there are measures in place to restrict the growth of fire and smoke to enable occupants to escape safely and firefighters to deal with fire safely and effectively. BS 9999 is a more advanced approach to fire safety in buildings than Approved Document B for England and Wales, permitting greater flexibility for a more tailored design. For example, designers might make use of BS 9999 when designing fire safety systems for cinemas, night clubs, colleges, universities and the like. 16 SwitchedOn

Table 8 of BS 9999 provides minimum recommendations of categories of system. The designer may choose to use them as part of an appropriate risk assessment to amend the choice of system. For example, the table recommends a minimum system of ‘Category M’ (no automatic fire detection system) for a risk profile of A1, that is where occupants are awake and familiar with the building, and the fire growth rate is slow. For a risk profile of Cii2, that is where there is long-term managed occupancy and a medium fire growth rate, the table recommends a minimum system of ‘Category L2’. Generally, this involves heat, smoke, combustion gas or multi-sensor detectors in all rooms that open onto escape routes, and additional automatic fire detectors in rooms in which the fire risk is high enough to warrant individual protection. The table also recommends that a minimum Category L3 system is installed where a phased or managed evacuation is proposed and that multiple occupancy premises are supplied with a common detection and alarm system appropriate to the level of risk. Design of emergency lighting systems As might be expected, BS 9999 references the appropriate emergency lighting standards, BS 5266-1 and BS 5266-7. Design of lighting systems

BS 9999 emphasises the importance of using and installing the specified fire protection products and ensuring that the systems are adequately installed, commissioned and tested. A number of the key features of BS 9999 for the design and maintenance of electrical installations for life safety systems and for fire detection and fire alarm systems are summarised below: Design of fire alarm systems BS 9999 recommends that the category of fire detection and fire alarm system for premises is based on the relevant risk profile* of the building, and refers the designer to BS 5839-1 for the design of such systems.

In many buildings, electrical services are installed above suspended ceilings, behind walls or under suspended floors. Where such hidden services exist, the risk of fire remaining undiscovered for a considerable period of time requires the installation to be undertaken with great care.

* Risk profiles are based on the assessed occupancy characteristics and fire growth rates within a building.




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• Clause 38.4 of BS 9999 details the recommendations regarding lighting, placing emphasis on the correct installation of luminaires. In particular, where luminaires are recessed within a suspended ceiling that forms part of the fire-resisting/fire-protection elements of the building, the protection afforded by the ceiling should be maintained by the provision of a fire-resisting barrier behind the fitting and behind any means of access to the fitting.

consist of other cables meeting the relevant life safety and/or fire safety performance objectives given in BS 8491, or

be protected against exposure to the fire by separation from any significant fire risk by a wall, partition or floor with a fire resistance of not less than that required for the building. The mechanical protection of cables by conduit, ducting or trunking should not be considered to give protection against fire.

Design of electrical services All electrical systems should be installed in accordance with the requirements of BS 7671 (IEE Wiring Regulations), with additional thought given to the mechanical protection of wiring in certain premises, such as places of entertainment and workshops, where additional risks may exist. Electrical risers within any protected stairway should be separated by 30 minute fireresisting construction and access doors. The access doors should be kept locked shut and be openable only by the management responsible for the building. Similarly, supply meters within a protected stairway should be enclosed in a cupboard having 30 minute fire-resisting construction.

consist of mineral-insulated, coppersheathed cables to BS EN 60702-1 meeting the relevant life safety and/or fire safety performance objectives given in BS 7346-6, or

Wiring systems should be separate from any circuit provided for any other purpose

Jointing and termination methods should be chosen to minimise any reduction in reliability and resistance to fire below that of cables having no joints.

Design of supplies for safety services

Each connection to the power supply should be through an isolating protective device reserved solely for the life safety and fire protection equipment, and independent of any other main or sub-main circuit. Such isolating devices should be clearly labelled and identified as to their purpose. Access should be limited to authorised persons and, except for maintenance, be kept locked on. The labelling on each isolating device should read: ‘Warning: This supply remains live when the main switch is turned off’. Where current-using equipment is to operate in the event of a fire, the cables supplying it should be of a type that will maintain circuit integrity. Wiring systems should either:

Fire can start in machinery and equipment which is not adequately maintained or cleaned. Electrical installations should be regularly examined by a competent person. Additionally, routine maintenance should be carried out in accordance with the relevant standard, such as BS 5839-1 for fire detection and fire alarm systems and BS 5266-1 for emergency and escape lighting systems. Routine inspection and maintenance of fire safety installations Once fire safety installations, such as fire detection and fire alarm systems and emergency and escape lighting systems, are in use, they should be subject to regular checks and maintenance. These checks are split into daily, weekly, monthly, threemonthly, six-monthly and yearly checks. Examples of daily checks might include the indication of normal operation of the control panel of a fire detection and alarm system or emergency and escape lighting system. Weekly checks include, amongst other things, that standby batteries are in good condition and the control equipment is able to receive a fire signal and initiate the evacuation procedure.

Electrical risers installed other than in protected stairways should be enclosed with fire-resisting construction to a standard equivalent to the elements of the structure of the building, and the doors kept locked shut.

The electrical supply to life safety and fire protection equipment should be separate from all other circuits in the building such that failure of other equipment does not render the installation inoperative.

Maintenance of building plant and equipment

The wiring systems highlighted above should supply fire extinguishing systems, sprinkler systems, smoke control systems, fire-fighting shaft systems, motorised fire shutters, CCTV systems installed for monitoring means of escape, and data communications systems that link fire safety systems.

Amongst other things, the operation of standby generator sets should be checked monthly, involving the simulation of power failure and allowing the system to be energised for one hour. Additionally, the failure of the supply to the normal lighting should be simulated monthly, and all signs and luminaires inspected to determine that they are functioning correctly. Annual checks by competent person(s) should be made amongst other things, of the fire detection and alarm systems, selfcontained luminaires over three-years old, and sprinkler systems.

The wiring systems should be effectively protected from mechanical damage. To reduce the risk of loss of supply to a safety system, a secondary power supply should be installed. Amongst other things, this supply should have sufficient capacity to maintain supplies and be designed to operate safely in fire conditions. The changeover from the primary to the secondary supply should be automatic so that life safety installations continue operating. SwitchedOn 17




Page 18

MORE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TRAVEL ADAPTORS DISCOVERED ollowing our investigations last year into the safety of travel adaptors, we have been alerted to a relatively new design of adaptor to reach the UK market that presents several significant electrical safety hazards to consumers when used in the UK and abroad.


This type of travel adaptor is typically referred to as a compact all-in-one ‘universal travel adaptor’ for worldwide use. A small selection of adaptors matching this description was purchased from established internet-based retailers and distributors in the UK for safety screening. As shown below, the plug portion of the device incorporates various plug pin configurations for use with UK, European and most other international socket-outlets. Each set of plug pins can be independently moved in or out of the body of the adaptor and locked in position. The socket portion of the adaptor is designed to accept any type of plug fitted as standard to a corresponding UK or foreign appliance.

the adaptor to prevent accidental contact with live parts, as shown below.

Plug pins unsleeved and located too close to periphery of adaptor

A further hazard was identified as a consequence of the non-standard dimensions and increased size of the socket apertures of the adaptor, in that it is possible to insert a plug into the adaptor in dangerous ways that will give rise to an immediate shock risk. As illustrated below, it is possible to insert only one live pin of a standard 13 A plug into the adaptor, leaving the other pin exposed to touch, and to insert the earth pin of a plug into a live socket aperture which will energise exposed metallic parts of an earthed (Class I) electrical appliance.

Only one plug pin inserted, leaving the other pin exposed to touch

Our initial investigations found that it is possible to unlock and extend a second set of pins whilst the adaptor is inserted into a socket by simply moving a mechanical slider switch to its “unlock” position, as shown below. As all the plug pins are electrically connected when extended, the second set of pins becomes energised and readily accessible to touch, presenting a real and immediate risk electric shock.

Earth pin of a plug inserted into a live socket aperture

It is a requirement of UK product standards that the live apertures of 13 Amp socketoutlets are fitted with safety shutters to prevent inadvertent contact with live parts. However, as indicated below, shutters have not been incorporated into some of the samples purchased.

Shock risk from exposed pins whilst inserted in a socketoutlet

Additionally, inspection revealed that the live pins of the adaptor that are intended for engagement with UK socket-outlets are not fitted with insulating sleeves, and that they are positioned too close to the periphery of 18 SwitchedOn

Socket apertures without safety shutters

Finally, none of the samples purchased are suitable for appliances that require an earth connection, as the earth pin in the plug arrangement is made of insulating material. The connection of Class I (earthed) appliances to these adaptors would therefore introduce the risk of electric shock in the event of an earth fault. None of the adaptors are provided with any warning or instruction about this limitation and in fact, for two adaptors, misleading information was provided on packaging which states “accepts earthed/unearthed plugs from dozens of countries”, whereas in fact they are suitable for use with Class II (double-insulated) appliances only.

Action we have taken We have been working closely with Trading Standards to ensure appropriate safeguard action is taken to remove this type of potentially lethal product from the market. Some Trading Standards offices have issued public safety warnings on their websites to raise awareness of the issue. We are also liaising with media channels within colleges, universities and the National Union of Students following advice received from Trading Standards that these potentially dangerous adaptors have been used as promotional gifts at student and job recruitment fairs throughout the UK. Although many distributors have already ceased to supply the product as a result of this action, many different brands and variations in design of the same product exist and may still be available from outlets in the UK. Anyone who is concerned that they may have acquired a travel adaptor that exhibits the electrical safety hazards described in this article are advised contact their local Trading Standards office in the first instance.

Any further developments on this issue will be reported in the subsequent issues of Switched On and on our website.




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HOME FIRE SAFETY GUIDANCE AIMS TO SAVE 300 LIVES A YEAR n 2006, the Fire and Rescue Service attended 55,800 fires in UK houses and flats, in which 373 people died and 11,200 people were injured. For every one fire that the fire service attends, there are believed to be four others that are not reported, with some 300,000 fires recorded in surveys during 2004/5.


LACORS*, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have therefore produced national guidance for landlords, managing agents, tenants and enforcers aimed at reducing these statistics. It includes guidance on electrical installations and equipment.

The guidance, entitled ‘Housing – Fire Safety’, provides advice on how to keep residential buildings safe from fire, explains how to carry out a fire risk assessment, and includes a range of case studies.

It will help them to adopt a more consistent risk-based approach. Copies of the guidance are available to download free of charge from the LACORS website,

The guidance applies to existing residential accommodation, including single family houses, bedsits, shared houses and flats in both the private and social housing sectors. It does not apply to new housing that is built to modern building regulations. The guidance explains the legislation relating to fire safety in both the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It the first such national guidance which sets out a risk based approach that will satisfy both pieces of legislation. Landlords who follow this guidance will be well placed to satisfy requirements set out under fire safety legislation. The guidance also assists Councils and Fire and Rescue authorities who enforce fire safety legislation in residential accommodation.

*LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) is the local government central body responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory services.


The dog raised the alarm at 2.30 am one morning last November by scratching and digging by a socket in the skirting board beside the bed where the couple were asleep.

The mouse had been electrocuted and was beginning to burn up along with the wooden joists. By gnawing through the cable, not only had the unfortunate mouse killed itself but could have killed them as well.

“She was agitated, and was

whining and scratching at the floor,”

The startled couple realised that the room was filling with acrid smoke coming from under the skirting boards, and that there was an electrical buzzing noise under the floorboards. Based on an article in the Alton Herald, by kind permission

Although there was a smoke detector on the landing outside the bedroom, it hadn’t yet activated. So interested were the firefighters in the cause of the fire that they took photographs of the remains of the mouse and the chewed wires for their records.

Photo courtesy of Graham Howlett, Alton Firestation

The owners said that had it not been for their dog Tilly, they may have died from smoke inhalation long before it was realised that the floor joists beneath their bed were on fire.

They called the fire brigade who arrived promptly and traced the source of the smoke. After lifting the floorboards in the bedroom, the firefighters discovered the problem – an incinerated mouse that had chewed through the cables which ran beneath the bedroom floor.

Jack Russell terrier has been hailed a hero after saving her owners from a house fire.


There is enough fat in the body of even a small animal to start a fire which, in this case, had spread to the floor joists which were blackened and burned and about to burst into flames. It was only thanks to Tilly’s sensitive nose that a major tragedy was averted.

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Page 20

This is the fourth and last of a series of electrical quizzes we’ve been running in Switched On over the past year. The quizzes have been pitched at three levels: ‘trickle charged’, ‘medium powered’ and ‘high potential’. The aim of this extremely ‘high potential’ quiz is to answer the first question, and then to apply the factor indicated (add, subtract, divide or multiply) to the next answer, as instructed, to end up with a final answer which can be entered into the prize draw. This quiz has been designed to be particularly challenging, so the prizes have been selected accordingly. To get to the correct answer, you are likely to need to have access to the British

Standards for fire detection and alarm systems (BS 5839 Parts 1 and 6), emergency lighting systems (BS 5266 Parts 1 and 7), and earthing (BS 7430), in addition to BS 7671. If you think you have the correct answer, you can enter the prize draw by emailing it to us at by Friday 22 May. The first person providing the correct answer to be selected at random from the entries will receive: „

A Metrel multifunction test kit (RRP £799)*


A full set of NICEIC technical publications and DVDs (RRP £307)*


A year’s free subscription to the Electrical Safety Council’s Technical Manual (RRP £100).

The next four persons providing the correct answer to be selected at random from the entries will receive: „

A full set of NICEIC technical publications and DVDs* (RRP £307)


A year’s free subscription to the Electrical Safety Council’s Technical Manual (RRP £100).

* Prizes kindly donated by NICEIC Group Ltd

Why not have a go? Your chances of winning something are significantly better than with the National Lottery! 1

Take the maximum current rating of a Powertrack system


Multiply this by the minimum height (in metres) recommended for a visual alarm in a fire detection/alarm system





Subtract the minimum cross sectional area (in mm2) for a flexible cord for a caravan connection where the rated current is expected to be 100 A


Add the maximum time (in seconds) an automatic supply should be available for a safety service supply classified as ‘medium break’


Add to the sum of the year that Michael Faraday discovered that many materials exhibit a weak repulsion from a magnetic field, (a phenomenon he named diamagnetism) and the denomination of currency (pounds) on which Faraday’s picture appeared on the reverse side


Divide by the minimum value for the colour rendering index Ra for emergency escape route lighting


Subtract the current that would cause automatic disconnection of a 100 A BS 88-2.2 or BS 88-6 fuse in 0.2 seconds


Finally, multiply by the factor to be applied to a thermosetting cable (90 0C) where the ambient air temperature of the installed cable is 75 0C.

Add the result to the minimum gross area (m2) where emergency lighting is normally required in toilet facilities Subtract the maximum earth resistance of independent earth electrodes associated with the local earthing of the star point of low voltage generating plant Add to the sum of the preferred ratings for fuses for use in BS 1363 fused plugs


Multiply by the maximum number of minutes that is recommended following the occurrence of a fault or failure (causing disconnection of the normal power supply) in a Grade C fire alarm/detection system, before visual indication at the control and indicating equipment occurs

The terms and conditions for the prize draw may be found on our website, . The solution to this quiz will be posted on our website shortly after the closing date together with, as soon as possible, the names of the lucky winners. Details of the winners of the quiz in the winter issue, together with the correct answers to the quiz, can be viewed on our website.


20 SwitchedOn SwitchedOn 20

All the previous issues of Switched On are available to read or download from the ‘Business & Community’ section of our website.

Switched On Issue 12  

Switched On the Electrical Safety Council's quarterly magazine - Feature: New era for theElectrical Safety Council

Switched On Issue 12  

Switched On the Electrical Safety Council's quarterly magazine - Feature: New era for theElectrical Safety Council