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News for the industry from the Electrical Safety Council

issue3 Winter 2006

Revision of BS 7671– your opportunity to contribute Also in this issue: Landlords’ responsibility for electrical safety


ASBESTOS REGULATIONS REVISED

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sbestos is the greatest single cause of work related deaths in the UK.

More than half a million non-domestic premises and houses still contain some form of asbestos, posing a real threat to unwary workers who may unknowingly drill or cut into material that could contain asbestos, and breathe in the deadly fibres. Maintenance workers, including electricians, plumbers, carpenters and builders, account for more than a quarter of the 3,500 asbestosrelated cancer deaths each year. To help combat this, the new Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force on

13 November 2006. They bring together the three previous sets of Regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work, and asbestos licensing. Amongst other things, the new Regulations require mandatory training for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. This includes installation and maintenance workers, such as electricians, who may come into contact with, or disturb, asbestos when working in existing buildings. The new Asbestos Regulations also include the ‘duty to manage asbestos’ in non-domestic premises. Guidance on the duty to manage asbestos can be found in the ‘Approved code

of practice – the management of asbestos in non-domestic premises’ (L127), copies of which are available from HSE Books. Although the Regulations continue the ban on the new and second-hand use of asbestos, if existing asbestos-containing materials are in good condition, they may be left in place provided their condition is monitored and that they are managed to ensure they are not disturbed.

A wealth of other information about avoiding the dangers of asbestos can be found on the HSE website at: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

HSE BECOMES GOVERNMENT’S SOLE ELECTRICITY SAFETY WATCHDOG

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he Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become the sole government regulator for all safety issues associated with the transmission and distribution of electricity, following the transfer of part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Engineering Inspectorate.

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Inspectors’ roles for public safety include enforcement of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002, which set safety standards for electricity companies to help prevent danger to the public from electrical equipment and lines.

The Inspectors investigate fatalities and some major injuries to members of the public, handle complaints about safety matters, and carry out annual safety management audits of licensed electricity companies.


Landlords’ responsibility for electrical safety Page 12

issue 03 winter‘06

switchedon industry news your insight into the electrical safety industry

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Asbestos regulations revised Also, HSE becomes sole industry watchdog Grants for electrical safety improvements Also, Christmas fire safety campaign

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Revision of BS 7671 Also, reseach into reliability of RCDs

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Home information Packs Also, counterfeit electrical products

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NHIC awards 2006 Also, leaflets hit the mark!

10 Sponsorship of RoSPA congress Also, first ‘Best Pactice Guide’ produced

features 6

Support for accident statistics

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Fires of electrical origin in homes

11 Safety of products Also, schools awareness campaign

14 Website update

Also, Trustmark scheme

12 Landlords’ responsibility for electrical safety

15 Select awards Also, DTI consults on plugs and

sockets regulations

Published by: Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate London, SW1E 6LB www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk Tel: 0870 040 0561 Fax: 0870 040 0560 email: enquiries@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk switchedon

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GRANTS FOR ELECTRICAL SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS

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s announced in the previous issue of Switched On, to help fulfil its charitable purpose, the Electrical Safety Council has been investigating the possibility of awarding improvement grants to a limited number of homeowners who cannot afford to restore the electrical installation in their home to a safe condition. The investigation was completed in September, and a report submitted with recommendations to the Electrical Safety Board on how the Council can demonstrate its commitment to consumer safety not just through words, but by direct action. We are pleased to announce that the Board accepted the recommendations and approved a sufficient level of funding to enable the Electrical Installation Safety Improvements Grants scheme to be launched. The scheme is to be piloted in England and Wales.

one of the registration bodies that assess electrical installers for periodic inspection and reporting. The Periodic Inspection Report compiled by the installer will be submitted for verification by both the relevant registration body and the Electrical Safety Council.

With only limited funds available, it will not be possible to carry out substantial remedial work (such as a complete rewire of an installation). However, the funds will be used in a costeffective way to ensure that the Council’s charitable objective is achieved as closely as possible.

homeowners aged 60 and over who are in receipt of a ‘means tested benefit’ or, in some cases, resident homeowners who have been assessed as having ‘special circumstances’.

British Standards Institution

improvement grants of up to £800 to resident

What the scheme will do There are two parts to the grants scheme. Firstly, successful applicants will have an electrical installer appointed by the Council to carry out a periodic inspection and test of their electrical installation to assess its condition. The installer will be selected from

Phone: 0870 444 1392 Website: www.napit.org.uk NICEIC Group Ltd Phone: 0870 013 0382

If the periodic inspection identifies that urgent remedial work is necessary to restore the installation to a safe condition, another installer registered with one of the government-approved Part P schemes will be engaged to carry out that work.

Assisting in the scheme Following a significant amount of preparation, discussion and organization, we are pleased to announce that the following Part P scheme operators have agreed to assist the Council with the implementation of its grants scheme:

Who the scheme is aimed at Initially, the Council will be offering electrical

NAPIT Registration Ltd

Phone: 01442 278 577 Website: www.kitemarktoday.com ELECSA Ltd Phone: 0870 749 0080

Website: www.niceic.com Assistance is also being provided for the distribution of application packs and the assessment of grant applicants by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Kent, and the Electrical and Electronics Industries Benevolent Association (EEIBA). We thank these organizations for their support. Going live Piloting of the Electrical Installation Safety Improvements Grants scheme began in October and, by the end of November, a number of applications were being processed. If the pilot proves to be successful and additional funding can be obtained from other organizations, it is hoped to extend the grants scheme to other parts of the UK.

If you are interested in being a sponsor for the grants scheme, or you would like further information, please email: grants@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk or telephone 0870 040 0561.

Website: www.elecsa.org.uk

FIRE SAFETY CAMPAIGN

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ollowing a review by the Council of all the Department for Communities & Local Government’s (DCLG) fire prevention literature, the Department incorporated electrical safety messages into its ‘12 days of Christmas’ fire prevention leaflet. DCLG provided thousands of these leaflets to fire and rescue services across England to assist with their fire safety promotion activities during December.

Discussions are continuing with DCLG to explore opportunities for further collaboration on joint messaging with the Electrical Safety Council for the promotion of fire and electrical safety. The recently-published DCLG statistics on primary fires having an electrical origin in dwellings during 2005 have been posted on the Council’s website. See article on page 7

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REVISION OF BS 7671 – YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO CONTRIBUTE

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s announced in the previous issue of Switched On, the national standard for the safety of electrical installations, BS 7671, is being revised to further harmonize it with the equivalent European and International standards. If you wish to comment on the proposed changes, which are substantial, copies of the 350 page draft can be purchased from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), price £50. The closing date for comments is 28 February 2007. Comments on the draft must be submitted, preferably electronically and in a standard format, to the Committee Secretary, details of whom are given in the notice accompanying the Draft for Public Comment. However, those who may be considering commenting are again advised that there will

be very limited scope for their comments to be taken into account in this revision. This is because the British Standard has to reflect the technical intent of the equivalent European Standard (HD 384), and the various parts of that standard that are being incorporated into the revision have already been accepted by or, in some cases, imposed upon, the UK. An introduction to the Draft for Public Comment, summarizing many of the proposed changes, can be found on the IET website: www.theiet.org The revised standard, BS 7671: 2008 (which will also be known as the IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition) is expected to be published in January 2008 and, following a six month transition period, will come into full effect for the design of installations from July that year.

RESEARCH INTO THE IN-SERVICE RELIABILITY OF RCDs The second phase, which is also being carried out by ERA, is currently underway. The objectives of this second phase are to: n

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he Electrical Safety Council is continuing its research into the in-service reliability of residual current devices (RCDs) used in homes to provide supplementary protection against electric shock. The first, desk-based, phase of the research, carried out by ERA Technology Ltd, has been completed. Details of the findings can be found on the Council’s website.

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determine the effects, if any, on the results of testing RCDs in domestic premises when downstream loads remain connected carry out the in situ testing of a range of fixed 30 mA RCDs installed in domestic premises. Any RCDs that fail the original type test characteristics set out in BS 7671 will be replaced with new, and the failed units examined in the laboratory to ascertain the cause or causes of the departures from norm determine an overall reliability rate for RCDs by analysing the results obtained from examination of failed units.

We are pleased to report that a number of organisations have agreed to help with this research project, and we are very grateful for their support and assistance in allowing the testing to be carried out in their properties.

In particular we would like to thank: • • • •

Lewisham Borough Council Newham Homes Orbit Housing SOHA Housing

We would also like to thank all those who have already provided feedback on their personal experience of the in-service reliability of RCDs. If you would like to share your experience with us, there is still an opportunity to do so by emailing details to: rcds@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk Alternatively, please write to: RCD Project Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate London, SW1E 6LB A summary of the ERA research findings will be published in the next issue of Switched On. switchedon

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Support for the production of home accident statistics he Council has been in discussion with RoSPA about the lack of reliable, up-to-date home accident and injury statistics for the UK.

T ‘...THE STATISTICS HAVE NOT BEEN UPDATED SINCE 2002 AND ARE THEREFORE BADLY OUT OF DATE’

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In 2003, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that it would no longer publish the Home and Leisure Accident Statistics being collected via the Home Accident Surveillance System (HASS) and the Leisure Accident Surveillance System (LASS). The HASS and LASS data were national estimates of accidents and injuries based on statistics provided by a sample of 16-18 Accident and Emergency Hospital units across the UK. The data had been collected since 1978 and was a valuable source of information on home injuries. The DTI subsequently agreed to fund, for a period of five years, the maintenance of the HASS/LASS database through RoSPA. Although the database is being maintained, the statistics have not been updated since 2002 and are therefore now badly out of date. The contract with RoSPA is due to end in 2008.

The need to support all electrical safety initiatives and activities with a sound business case, and to prioritise activities, makes the availability of accurate and reliable statistics a key issue for the Electrical Safety Council and other charities having consumer safety objectives. Working in partnership with RoSPA, the Council intends to lead the way in finding a solution to the problem. To meet the objective, the Council proposes to commit financial and management support to RoSPA to help deliver the first phase of a project. This will be to fund a research post, which will be managed by RoSPA and overseen by the Electrical Safety Council. The post holder will be required to research the scope and scale of the issues involved, and to devise a methodology for the setting up and continued maintenance of a database of home accident and injury statistics for the UK. It is anticipated that the second phase of the project will involve seeking sponsorship from government and other organisations.


Fires of electrical origin in homes A t the end of October, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) issued their quarterly report on the fire statistics for the fourth quarter of 2005. This document is prepared by the Fire Statistics & Social Research Branch of DCLG. A full copy of the report can be found on the DCLG website: www.communities.gov.uk The statistics in the report are compiled from information submitted to the DCLG on fires and false alarms attended by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) throughout the UK.

These statistics show only about a 1% decrease in the number of accidental primary fires, but a 3% decrease in the number of injuries and a 12% decrease in the number of deaths. It should be noted however that the figures provided in the October report are provisional. The finalised 2005 fire statistics will not be published until spring this year.

Electricity in the home Guide to fire safety

The larger number of deaths recorded in 2004 is likely to be largely due a very serious fire in a care home in Scotland that year, which accounted for 14 of the 327 deaths. The DCLG has also provided a breakdown of the statistics giving the reported source of ignition and cause of accidental fires in dwellings. Comparison of the latest (provisional) statistics with those for 2004 is as follows: Number of fires in dwellings Cause of fire having an electrical origin 2005 (p) 2004 Electric cookers, microwaves and other electric cooking appliances

Detailed information is collected by the FRS on all fires in buildings, vehicles and outdoor structures, and any fires involving casualties or rescues (referred to as ‘primary fires’). The data is collected through the use of a form which is completed by the FRS following every incident they attend.

Comparison of the latest (provisional) statistics with those for 2004 is as follows: Accidental primary fires in dwellings in the UK 2005 (p)

2004

Domestic fires

47101

47769

Deaths

287

327

Injuries

9664

9993

2005 (p) provisional figures

electricity and electrical cooking appliances, and promotes the use of smoke alarms.

771

721

During the development of the leaflet, it was found from government statistics that the greatest number of accidental fires in UK homes, almost 12,000 each year, are caused by the misuse of electrical cooking appliances, including microwave cookers.

Earlier in 2006, another report was published by DCLG called Fires in the Home: Findings from the 2004/05 Survey of English Housing. This report serves as a useful supplement to the Fire Statistics UK series, as it includes details of fires not attended by the Fire and Rescue Service.

Electric water and heating appliances

752

648

Other electrical appliances

3780

4057

Electrical distribution

2605

2490

2005 (p) provisional figures

From these statistics, it can be seen that the number of fires caused by faulty electrical installations increased marginally in 2005, whilst the number caused by faulty electrical appliances fell by a small percentage. The Electrical Safety Council is still concerned about the relatively high number of electrical fires in dwellings that have an electrical origin, and is still keen to see them reduced. To this end, we are continuing to run our fire safety

It enables those households at highest risk of fire to be identified. The report also presents information on fire safety measures, an estimate of smoke alarm ownership in England, and identifies those households least likely to have an alarm. As the fire incidents recorded in this survey result in little or no damage, they are consequently not brought to the attention of the Fire and Rescue Service, thus escaping official recording via the fire data report forms.

The report recognizes that fires reported to the Fire and Rescue Service

campaign, working with DCLG and others.

represent only about a quarter of all

As part of the campaign, we are producing a consumer leaflet briefly explaining the hazards of fires associated with electrical installations and products. The leaflet includes tips to prevent fires in the home caused by

fires that occur in dwellings.

A full copy of the survey report can be found at www.communities.gov.uk switchedon

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HOME INFORMATION PACKS

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here is some further news to report about the Home Information Pack (HIP) which the government is introducing in England and Wales on 1 June 2007 by means of the new Home Information Pack Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1503). Some of the news is encouraging from the electrical safety aspect. The government is currently proposing that, when the new Packs are introduced, the only mandatory requirements will be the searches and energy performance information. The roll out of other aspects of the Home Information Pack, which introduce other parts of the Home Condition Report, will initially be on a non-mandatory, market-led basis. As a result, the regulations as currently written make no reference to electrical safety requirements, which is a great disappointment to the Electrical Safety Council. However, the Council has been continuing to try to persuade the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to reconsider the issue of electrical safety, particularly with regard to at least including information about the Part P Building Regulations Compliance Certificate in the Pack.

She also confirmed that the Home Condition Report will contain a safety warning about the need for periodic inspection and testing, and advise that all electrical work carried out under Part P should be covered by an electrical installation certificate. The introduction of the Pack is being moved forward by government, their next step being to trial the Energy Performance Certificates and the Home Information Packs in a number of areas. The trials, which began in November, are taking place in Bath, Cambridge, Southampton, Huddersfield, Northampton and Newcastle upon Tyne with the aim of: n n n

Understanding the impact of HIPs on the home-buying and selling process Identifying how the government can maximise the voluntary take up of Home Condition Reports Determining how to maximise the impact of the Energy Performance Certificate on the public’s awareness of energy efficiency matters.

The trials will enable the reaction of both buyers and sellers to be tested before the requirements become mandatory for all residential sales from 1 June 2007. A report on the progress of the trials will be featured in the next issue of Switched On.

To this end, a Council representative met with Mr David Drew, MP for Stroud, to discuss Part P and the HIP. This resulted in Mr Drew asking a question in the House of Commons as to whether information confirming compliance with Part P will be included in the HIP. In a written reply, Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Planning at the DCLG, stated that her department was actively investigating the best way to include in the HIP information about the safety of electrical work carried out under Part P.

It is understood that the government intends to amend the Home Information Pack Regulations in early 2007. The revised regulations are expected to reflect the decision to make the Home Condition Report an ‘authorised component’ of the HIP, and to take into account the findings of the trials. There will no doubt be consultations with key stakeholders throughout the trial period. For more information about the new regulations and their introduction, visit the government’s dedicated website: www.homeinformationpack.gov.uk

COUNTERFEIT KILLS!

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nnually, an estimated £30 million worth of counterfeit electrical products reach the UK.

As part of their campaign to combat such counterfeit products, BEAMAInstallation has produced a six minute DVD entitled ‘Counterfeit kills – protect yourself’. The DVD highlights the potential dangers of counterfeit products – fire, injury and death – and the impact on the reputation of a business installing inferior quality ‘copy cat’ products. Stressing the responsibility for ensuring that only genuine products are used lies with all those specifying, buying and installing electrical products, the DVD’s underlying message is for vigilance. 8 switchedon

The advice to specifiers and installers is: • Obtain products only from authorised, official distributors • Question if the price is too good to be true • Check samples of products, including documentation, before installing • Never assume goods are genuine – check labelling and packaging • Look out for potential counterfeit items mixed with genuine products • If in doubt, check with the original manufacturer. Free copies of the BEAMAInstallation DVD (or CD) can be obtained by: phoning 0207 793 3013, or emailing cac@beama.org.uk


NHIC AWARDS 2006 – PROMOTING BEST PRACTICE

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n November, the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) held its Annual Awards ceremony in London, where ten awards were presented. This year, the electrical safety award was sponsored by the Electrical Safety Council. The entry which most impressed the judging panel and won this year’s NHIC Electrical Safety Award was from Cannock Chase Council. It was evident from Cannock Chase Council’s entry that they are committed to improving and maintaining standards of electrical safety and working in partnership with its tenants and residents to raise awareness of electrical safety in the home. The criteria used to judge the submissions were that: n

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the electrical installation is checked regularly – at least every 10 years (and on a change of tenancy) residual current device (RCD) protection is provided for socket-outlets that may be used to power portable equipment outdoors

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networks with its tenants to keep them regularly informed and to raise their awareness of electrical safety.

Among its initiatives, the Council introduced a 5-yearly periodic inspection and testing cycle for all its housing stock, as well as on every change of tenancy. This enables the Council to identify and repair those properties in

The Electrical Safety Council congratulates and commends Cannock Chase Council, and calls on all social and private housing landlords to introduce these initiatives in order to make

tenants’ and residents’ awareness of

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electrical appliances in sheltered schemes are checked once a year customer satisfaction is good

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relevant standards are complied with

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energy saving initiatives are implemented.

best practice common practice.

greatest need of attention.

qualified/registered electricians are used electrical safety issues is raised

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In 1998, Cannock Chase Council established a rolling programme of initiatives and reviews to improve electrical safety in its housing stock.

It also developed an electrical safety specification checklist to ensure consistency and conformity among its workforce, and only uses registered electrical contractors to carry out its electrical work. In addition, Cannock Chase Council has established communication channels and

Also to be congratulated is Soha Housing, runners up for this year’s Electrical Safety Award.

If you would like to find out more about the NHIC Annual Awards, please visit: www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk and www.nhic.org.uk

LEAFLETS HIT THE MARK!

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esponses to the Council’s ‘So you think your home is safe’ leaflet, announced in the previous issue of Switched On, have been very encouraging. The leaflet gives straightforward advice to householders on a wide range of electrical safety issues in the home.

At present, the leaflet is being distributed mainly to householders in England and Wales by courtesy of Part P scheme operators, primarily NICEIC.

The Council has also received a large number of direct requests for quantities of the leaflet. For example, Suffolk Housing Society is providing a copy of the leaflet to all new tenants in its properties. Mrs Egan, the Senior Housing Officer at the Society, said that “her organisation understands their responsibilities to their tenants with regard to electrical safety issues, and recognizes the benefits of providing them with this advice.”

Any other Housing Associations or organizations wishing to distribute large quantities of the leaflet should in the first instance send an email to

By the New Year, over 100,000 copies of the leaflet had been distributed, with the expectation that over a million would be in circulation by the end of 2007.

As a contribution towards printing and postage costs, a small charge, depending on the quantity, will be made for supplying the

leaflets@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk or phone us on 0870 040 0561.

leaflets in bulk. switchedon

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ELECTRICAL SAFETY COUNCIL SPONSORS RoSPA CONGRESS

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s part of the Electrical Safety Council’s drive to raise awareness of electrical safety issues, the Council sponsored the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) 2006 Annual National Home Safety Congress, which was held in Harrogate in November.

The Congress, the theme of which was home injury prevention, was well attended by key professionals working in local communities UK-wide, including representatives from the fire and rescue services, NHS primary care trusts and community practitioners. The Electrical Safety Council’s Director, Emma McCarthy, gave a presentation outlining the causes of electrical accidents in the home from electric shock and fire. Emma also took the opportunity to give the delegates practical advice on how householders can protect themselves from the dangers of electricity.

Each delegate received a plug-in RCD, and was encouraged to promote their use in their communities. Speaking about the Congress, Emma McCarthy said, “The Electrical Safety Council was pleased to sponsor the Congress this year, and I was delighted to be invited to speak. The Congress gave the Electrical Safety Council the opportunity to increase awareness of the dangers of electricity and to promote electrical safety to a broad range of key professionals working within the community.” The event also gave Electrical Safety Council staff an opportunity to network with other delegates, and to share their knowledge and experience of electrical safety issues.

LIGHTING CIRCUITS WITH NO PROTECTIVE CONDUCTOR: ‘BEST PRACTICE GUIDE’

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ighting circuits installed before 1966 which, at the time, did not including any exposed-conductive-parts (such as metallic switch plates and Class I lighting fittings), often do not include a circuit protective conductor. This poses a problem for electrical contractors when, for example, it becomes necessary to replace a consumer unit to which such circuits are connected. This is especially so where the customer cannot be convinced of the need to rewire the lighting circuits or to install a separate circuit protective conductor to each point. It is generally considered that reconnecting an unearthed lighting circuit to a new consumer unit contravenes BS 7671 Regulation 130-07-01 (additions and alterations to an installation), because the earthing arrangements for that circuit are not adequate. Therefore, in association with the ECA, NICEIC and SELECT, the Electrical Safety Council has produced a ‘Best Practice Guide’ on the subject. Entitled ‘Replacing a consumer unit in domestic premises where lighting circuits have no protective conductor’, the eightpage Guide can be downloaded free of

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charge from the websites of the Electrical Safety Council and the other contributing bodies. The purpose of the Guide is to enable contractors to come to a reasonable and justifiable conclusion about the best course of action to take in particular circumstances, when faced with the prospect of having to re-connect lighting circuits having no protective conductor. By following the guidance, it is considered that an installer will have provided protection for the consumer so far as is reasonably practicable. It is planned to produce a series of such Best Practice Guides for the benefit of electrical contractors and installers, and their customers. Work is already in hand on a guide to safe isolation practice, in support of the current HSE campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on construction sites caused by unsafe electrical working practices. This is expected to be followed by a guide to the safe connection of microgeneration systems to new and existing domestic electrical installations. Progress reports will be given in future issues of Switched On.


THE ELECTRICAL SAFETY OF PRODUCTS

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rior to the formation of the Electrical Safety Council, the activities of the Charity were mainly concentrated on the protection of consumers from the hazards of unsafe and unsound electrical installations. Whilst this is still a very important area for electrical safety initiatives, a significant proportion of deaths and injuries caused by electricity can be attributed to electrical products. The Council is therefore beginning to expand its remit to include the electrical safety of products. Working in partnership with other bodies such as Trading Standards, BSI, DTI and other consumer protection organizations, the Council will be developing product safety strategies, carrying out investigations, and running consumer awareness campaigns specifically designed to make those using electrical products more aware of the possible risks, and to help keep them and their families safe. As the number of electrical products in the home and workplace continues to rise, so do the potential risks, whether associated with their use or misuse, or indeed with their design, quality, age or perhaps lack of compliance with appropriate standards.

Another concern stems from the influence of media through the proliferation of DIY television programmes and publications that have encouraged many more consumers to attempt electrical DIY projects previously left to the ‘professionals’. This may be good news to electrical retailers as demand raises profits, but at what price to the consumer? In recognition of this, the Council intends to monitor the main electrical product groups available to consumers, ranging from household electrical appliances to electrical installation accessories and equipment, in order to identify existing and emerging issues, and to target those products that pose greatest risk. Where appropriate, the Council will coordinate its efforts with those of product testing laboratories, Trading Standards and the HSE to report publicly on any significant safety issues identified. As part of the Council’s “Keep Britain safe at Christmas” campaign, a specialist electrical product safety testing company, Intertek ETL SEMCO, was commissioned to undertake the testing of a small range of festive lighting products to identify any safety issues, and to

provide information on the safe use and maintenance of such products. A summary detailing the findings of the testing can be viewed on the Council’s website at www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk. Consumers who believe they have purchased an unsafe electrical product should contact their local authority trading standards department 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: productsafety@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk or write to us at: Product Safety Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate London, SW1E 6LB

SCHOOLS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

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he Council is planning a new campaign aimed at school children, with the main objectives being to help children avoid the hazards associated with electricity, and to raise the profile and awareness in schools of electrical safety issues. The campaign intends to deliver the Council’s key electrical safety messages by engaging the interest and participation of as many schools, teachers and children UK-wide as possible. We also plan to involve local electrical businesses, consumer groups and local community services wherever possible.

The campaign is currently in the research and development stage, but is expected to be rolled out to schools early in the New Year. If you would like to find out more or to become involved in some way, please visit our website at: www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk or email us at: enquiries@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk

A number of initiatives are currently being developed, including electrical safety talks in collaboration with community services groups, the development of a website designed specifically for children, and the production of an educational CD together with other electrical safety literature. The campaign will culminate each year with an opportunity for all UK schools to enter a competition having an electrical safety theme, with prizes of electrical equipment and games being awarded to winning schools and school children. switchedon

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Landlords’ responsibility The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires that a house is: n fit for human habitation at the commencement of the

tenancy, and

A new leaflet produced to help landlords find competent electrical installers can be downloaded free of charge from the Council’s website

persons operating, maintaining or altering the installation from fire or injury’.

n kept fit for human habitation by the landlord.

Except for some very minor items of electrical installation

Each year, however, many people in rented accommodation

Part P have been complied with is for the work either:

die and many more are injured by electric shock, and fires

n to be notified to a building control body (commonly the

started by electricity. The causes of such incidents are varied,

work, the mechanism for ensuring that the requirements of

local authority building control department) prior to any

but include: n poorly installed and maintained electrical installations n inadequate provision for the use of items of electrical

equipment, such as hair dryers

work being carried out, or n

to be carried out by a business registered with a government-authorised electrical self-certification scheme.

n inadequate checks on portable equipment

Similar legal requirements exist in Scotland, but not in

n inadequate fire alarm systems.

Northern Ireland. For further information about the legal

This is the first of a series of articles in Switched On that consider the issues relating to each of these hazards, and provides guidance for landlords on how they and their tenants can avoid them.

requirements relating to the safety of domestic electrical installation work, visit the Council’s website: www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk There are many factors that contribute to the making of a ‘good’ electrical installation. For example, an electrical

Poorly installed electrical installations An electrical installation consists of all the fixed electrical equipment that is supplied from the electricity meter. It includes the cables that are

installation should have: n adequate socket-outlets for the number of portable

appliances likely to be used, in order to minimise the need to use multi-socket adapters n covers in place to ensure that fingers cannot inadvertently

usually hidden in the building fabric, accessories

come into contact with live parts. Broken or damaged

such as socket-outlets and switches, and the

switches and sockets should be replaced without delay

consumer unit that contains all the fuses or

n RCD protection for those socket-outlets that are likely to

circuit-breakers.

be used to supply portable equipment outdoors. An RCD

Since January 2005, all domestic electrical

(residual current device) provides additional protection

installation work carried out in England and

against electric shock

Wales has been required to comply with the

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‘Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect

n adequate earthing and bonding arrangements. Earthing

requirements of Part P of the Building

ensures that a fuse or circuit-breaker will operate fast

Regulations. This legislation requires that:

enough to clear an electrical fault before it can cause


for electrical safety danger of electric shock or fire, whilst bonding ensures that

For the periodic inspection and testing of existing installations,

any electric shock risk is minimised until the fault is cleared

there are no government-approved schemes in the UK that

n a sufficient number of circuits to avoid danger and

minimize inconvenience in the event of a fault.

register competent inspectors. However, the following bodies register businesses that may be competent to carry out such work, although their schemes may not cover the entire UK:

Poorly maintained electrical installations

British Standards Institution

An electrical installation, once installed, cannot simply be

www.kitemarktoday.com

ignored. Over time, the installation will deteriorate.

ELECSA Ltd

Connections can work loose (presenting a fire hazard), people

Phone: 0870 749 0080

can be heavy-handed whilst plugging in items of equipment,

www.elecsa.org.uk

and building and maintenance work can have a detrimental

Electrical Contractors’ Association

effect on the wiring etc.

Phone: 01442 278 577

Phone: 0207 3123 4800

Some basic safety checks can easily be carried out by the

www.eca.co.uk

landlord or agent. These include checks for:

NICEIC Group Ltd

n broken socket-outlets and light switches

Phone: 0870 013 0382

n signs of scorching around socket-outlets due to

www.niceic.com

overloading n overheating of electrical equipment – usually associated

with a strong, often fishlike, smell n damaged cables to portable equipment

A landlord should have a Periodic Inspection and Test Report (PIR) carried out at regular intervals. The interval between reports will depend, amongst other things, on the age and use of the installation, and in some instances (in particular for houses in multiple occupation) on the requirements of the local licensing authority. However, as an example, the Codes of Practice for Student Accommodation recommends that a Periodic Inspection is carried out at intervals no greater than 5 years.

NAPIT Registration Ltd Phone: 0870 444 1392 www.napit.org.uk SELECT Phone: 0131 445 5577 www.select.org.uk Before selecting a particular business, it would be advisable to check with their registration body that the business is approved and registered for undertaking periodic inspection and reporting work. There may be occasions when a periodic inspection is carried out by an electrician or installer who is not registered with one of the above-mentioned registration bodies. Where this is the

Additionally, the Electrical Safety Council recommends that

case, the responsibility for ensuring that the electrician or

every electrical installation is inspected and tested by an

installer is competent to undertake the work rests with the

electrically competent person on change of occupancy.

person selecting the particular person or business. switchedon

13


WEBSITE UPDATE

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associated with products bought at Christmas, and giving an update on our research into the reliability of RCDs.

The increase can be partly attributed to Switched On readers, as the website saw a huge increase in activity shortly after the distribution of the autumn issue.

Back issues of Switched On are now available for viewing and downloading via the industry section of the website, so whether you require extra copies or are searching for previous information, it’s all there at a click of a button.

ince we reported the growing popularity of the Council’s website in the previous issue of Switched On, visitors have been accessing the site at an ever increasing rate.

Thanks also to go to those organisations that support the Council’s aims and objectives by providing links from their websites. To help keep the momentum going, we will continue to expand the site by adding what we hope is interesting and informative material. Over the winter period, we will be highlighting some of electrical hazards

FEEDBACK ABOUT OUR WEBSITE IS ALWAYS APPRECIATED, SO PLEASE LET US HAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND IDEAS VIA THE BUILT-IN FEEDBACK FACILITY.

SAFETY AWARENESS VIDEO NOW ON WEBSITE Copies of the Council’s ‘how safe is your home’ DVD*, aimed at increasing consumer awareness of electrical safety issues in and around the home, have been given to thousands of householders and others across the UK. Now, to broadcast the safety messages even further, the 15 minute video has been added to the Council’s website. It can be viewed by following the menu in the ‘safety in the home’ section of the website. *Single copies of the DVD are still available on request to: enquiries@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk

...to help consumers find reliable and trustworthy tradespeople

TRUSTMARK

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rustMark is a scheme supported by government, the building industry and consumer groups, to help consumers find reliable and trustworthy tradespeople to make improvements and repairs inside and outside their homes. Last November, representatives of the Electrical Safety Council met with TrustMark officials to discuss how the two organizations could work together for the benefit of both consumers and electrical contractors. The meeting proved fruitful, with agreement being reached to work together. Possible outcomes from this liaison included:

14 switchedon

n The Electrical Safety Council being

represented on the planned TrustMark consumer forum n TrustMark using the Council’s website to advise consumers of the benefits of employing a registered installer who is also registered with TrustMark n The Council providing a link from its website to the TrustMark website n TrustMark including the Council's 'So you think your home is safe' leaflet on its website. Further discussions are planned. Further information about TrustMark can be found by visiting www.trustmark.org.uk


Left to right: Emma McCarthy, Karen Sillars, Stephen Kean, Stuart McKelvie and Dougie Donnelly (BBC's sports presenter)

SELECT AWARDS BEST HEALTH AND SAFETY INITIATIVE

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The Building Services Division of North Ayrshire Building Services won the award by demonstrating an admirable approach to their health and

the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow. The award, for the ‘Best Health and

safety practices, mainly due to their rigorous and on-going staff

Safety Initiative’, was presented to the winners by Emma McCarthy, Director of the Charity.

training, resulting in a track record of zero accidents in the past year.

he Electrical Safety Council is pleased to have sponsored an award at the first SELECT Technical Awards Dinner, held last November at

The shortlist for the award category included: • Lotus Electrical Services

The Building Services Division, which has 30 electricians and 10 apprentices, had been taking a new approach to their training by organising training sessions in one week blocks, rather than trying to fit them around work commitments.

• North Ayrshire Council • MITIE Engineering Services

For details of all the award winners on the evening, please visit the SELECT website: www.select.org.uk

DTI CONSULTS ON UK PLUGS & SOCKETS REGULATIONS

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t the end of October, the Department of Trade and Industry published a consultation document concerning the possible replacement of the UK Plugs & Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994. The DTI is looking to determine how well the current Regulations are working, whether they are providing the level of protection to the consumer that was intended, and whether they should be amended to further improve consumer safety.

The stated aim of the consultation is to enable the simplification of the current legislation and to rationalise the approach to recognise current consumer expectations and developments in

technology as well as removing, from producers and suppliers, any unnecessary burdens that have been revealed by the use of the Regulations. If it is decided that the Regulations should be amended, the draft new regulations would be subject to a further consultation, which will include a Regulatory Impact Assessment. Copies of the consultation document can be downloaded from the DTI website: www.dti.gov.uk/consultations/ The closing date for comments is 22 January 2007.

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15


LETTER TO THE EDITOR PARENTS BEWARE!!

Shocking The electricity was out, but it didn't matter,

I

have just taken my 20 year old daughter back to university for the second year of her degree. Whilst it was a relief to get the family house somewhat back to normal and to look forward to enjoying some peace and quiet (for a few months anyway), when helping my daughter to move into her shared house, I noticed several electrical hazards that I think other parents and guardians need to be made aware of. The house is a typical property converted specifically for students into two selfcontained flats over two floors. The landlord was very helpful, well organized, had a clear understanding of health and safety matters, but presented an ‘it’s your home, do pretty well as you like’ approach. My daughter and her housemates were taken through a health and safety induction session covering matters of fire safety, how to set/reset the fire alarm, and what to do in the event of an alarm. They even received basic instruction on the use of the fire extinguisher.

explained the potential danger, she was ‘shocked’ and concerned.

he went outside with a metal ladder. There were lightning bolts dancing about,

Needless to say, I was then given the task of fixing the rest of her things to the wall. I had forgotten my hammer, but fortunately one of my daughter’s housemates said we could borrow their hammer, electric drill or other hand tools - her dad had left her with a full tool kit! I took the liberty of enquiring if she was aware of the risks of drilling holes or knocking nails into walls without checking whether they were near to any electrical cables, or water or gas pipes.

but he was wearing rubber shoes, no doubt.

He placed that ladder on the telephone pole, soon he'd have the power under control. As he climbed, the rain began to fall, he wasn't worried about that at all.

Thunder clapping with a loud roar, but up the ladder he went some more. Fearing electricity, just isn't founded,

The reply was somewhat concerning as she was totally unaware, and had already fixed quite a few items to the walls in her room. Fortunately she had stayed clear of obvious cable routes and the fact that no water or gas was leaking out of the walls was a good indication that, on this occasion, she had been lucky. On further inspection, I discovered that one of the housemates had installed some decorative string lights in an attempt to brighten up the kitchen. Unfortunately they were draped near to the cooker and also ran across the floor. I routed the lights away from the hot and tripping hazards, and explained to the housemates the reasons I had done so.

those rubber shoes had him grounded.

When a lightning bolt hit that wire, he thought for sure he was on fire. He thought he'd end up charred remains, electrical work requires brains.

But to his surprise, he didn't die, and he knows the reason why. Those shoes, they must have saved his life, but oh the comments from his wife.

"When you smile dear, your teeth all glow, and you keep crackling, don't you know? And next time that the power goes out,

Whilst many of us would be aware of the above hazards as a matter of common sense and experience, we parents may be taking too many things for granted where our children are concerned. Even though these bright young things are supposed to be some of the countries finest who should know better, they evidently don’t! In all seriousness though, I would urge all

Whilst I was busy carrying endless items into the flat, my daughter set to work on making it feel like home by finding places to hang pictures and mirrors on the walls. On returning from the van, I was just in time to stop her knocking a large nail into the wall directly above a socket-outlet. When I

parents, guardians and friends of students who are living away from home to make these young people aware of the electrical hazards that they may unwittingly be facing. Information on identifying potential electrical hazards, together with ways of making the home a safer place, can be found by visiting the Council’s website: www.electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk

give the electrician a shout."

The shocking moral, you can see, Be careful around electricity. "I love you dear, yes you're the most, but I'm not sleeping with burnt toast." Poem courtesy of Jim Garman, Richfield, U.S.A.

Have you got a shocking or funny electrical tale? If so, send it to us at: switchedon@electricalsafetycouncil.org.uk The pick of the bunch will appear in the next issue.

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Switched On Issue 3