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Issue8 | Spring 2008

Asbestos Kills!


WELCOME award. I am delighted to say that with a lot of hard work and commitment from staff, and with the support of the Director General and the Trustees, we received formal notification in January that we had achieved the award. We will be going back on the road this year as part of our campaign to communicate electrical safety issues to as wide an audience as possible.

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elcome to the eighth edition of Switched On.

We are now well into the New Year and as you will see from the articles in this edition, we continue to develop initiatives to raise awareness for users of electricity in many safetyrelated areas. These initiatives are taken forward by a relatively small team of dedicated staff and, to support them in their endeavours, the Council is proactive in their ongoing development. To this end, a decision was taken last year that we would seek to obtain the Investors in People

The conference is aimed at raising awareness of the need to constantly develop standards that allow innovation in the market place, enforcement, and the dangers of counterfeit products. It is being developed to appeal to all sectors of industry, so I would ask you to consider attending, particularly as the electrical installation industry has an important part to play in combating the increasing problem of counterfeit products.

As well as the events mentioned elsewhere in this issue, we will have the use of the exhibition trailer that used be seen at country shows and the like in NICEIC livery. The trailer will now be seen across the UK throughout the spring and summer in Electrical Safety Council livery. Our attendance at events will be well publicized in advance, so please do come and see us if the trailer visits your area.

As part of our efforts to get politicians and senior civil servants to support our work, we held our annual reception at the Palace of Westminster on 11 March. The purpose of the reception was to highlight our activities over the past year and to raise awareness of issues that we feel need political support.

To support the expansion of our objectives to cover the electrical safety of products, we have announced a two day conference to be held in London on 8 - 9 September.

On a final note, plans are well underway for a major advertising campaign across the UK to raise awareness of electrical safety issues. This will include newspapers, radio and hopefully, if the budget allows, some TV. So keep an eye out in your area for our awareness campaign.

FROM THE EDITOR

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his issue marks the end of the first two years of publication of Switched On. Being a quarterly magazine, not all the articles can be hot news but, nevertheless, I hope you are finding it a good, topical and informative read.

As a result of an agreement with Professional Electrician magazine, I’m pleased to report that the circulation of Switched On has now trebled from 40,000 to 120,000 copies per quarter, as reported in the ‘News in Brief’ section on page 4.

I hope that all our new-found readers, as well as our regulars, find the content interesting and useful. Constructive feedback is always welcome – email us at switchedon@esc.org.uk If you would like to catch up on the full range of information we’ve

published over the past two years, all the back issues can be viewed on our website, at www.esc.org.uk/switchedon.html

INVESTORS IN PEOPLE

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owards the end of last year, the Council was assessed against the Investors in People (IiP) Standard. The Standard has long been acknowledged as a business improvement tool, helping 2 SwitchedOn

organisations of every size, type and location improve performance and realise objectives through the management and development of its staff.

This is a great achievement for us as our staff are our most valuable asset. We depend on their skills, expertise and commitment to fulfil our safety aims and objectives.

In January this year, we received confirmation from the IiP Recognition Panel that the Electrical Safety Council had achieved recognition as an Investor in People organization.

The IiP Assessor commented: ‘Staff at all levels are very professional, highly motivated and committed to the work of the Council. Everyone interviewed spoke about their

pride in the organization and its achievements to date.’ ‘The Charity’s values have been well embedded into the day to day running of the organization. As a result of this, staff were able to describe how honesty and transparency were key in their dealings with colleagues and stakeholders.’


Compact fluorescent lamps – Not so friendly? see page 19

issue 08 Spring ‘08

switchedon industry news

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Best Practice Guides

your insight into the electrical safety industry

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Does the 17th Edition require a new test for RCDs?

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Migrant communities putting themselves at risk Also, Manufacturers respond to concerns over travel adaptors

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Investors In People Also, Welcome, From the Editor

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News in brief

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Council set to host International Product Safety Conference Also, Events in 2008

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Scalding risk caused by old immersion heater thermostats

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Electrical installation forum established Also, Child Safety Week

11 Regulators likely to be given greater powers Also, New system for reporting breaches of building regulations

12 New electrical safety of products committee formed Also, Guide for consumers when ordering domestic electrical work

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Yell – working to protect the consumer Also, Council liaises with the Energy Networks Association

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Compact fluorescent lamps – not so friendly? Also, Lessons arising from an electrical fire

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Electric shock – what should I do? Also, Mouse killed as it starts electrical fire

Every week 6 electricians die from this hidden killer.

Any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 could contain asbestos, which is one of the most lethal dangers in the workplace. Every year there are still 4,000 deaths from asbestos related diseases. You could be working where asbestos is present right now. Don’t you owe it to your workmates, your family and yourself to find out more?

Call 0845 345 0055 now for your FREE Asbestos Information Pack. Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

features 8

Asbestos kills!

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Trustmark – the way for consumers to find reliable tradesmen

Published by: The Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate London, SW1E 6LB www.esc.org.uk www.switchedonkids.org.uk Tel: 0870 040 0561 Fax: 0870 040 0560 email: enquiries@esc.org.uk SwitchedOn 3


NEWS IN BRIEF Corrigendum to BS 7671: 2008 A corrigendum to BS 7671: 2008 (IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition) is likely to be issued before the new edition comes into full effect on 1 July, to address a few editorial and other issues that have been identified by early users of the Standard.

Circulation of Switched On trebles As the result of an agreement with Professional Electrician magazine, the circulation of Switched On has increased from about 40,000 to 120,000 copies each quarter. Copies in a slightly smaller format are being distributed through electrical wholesalers as an insert in the issue of Professional Electrician which most closely follows the publication of Switched On. This is the second issue of Switched On to benefit from the increased circulation.

Boiler repair man electrocuted In February, an inquest in Cardiff heard how a 29-year-old CORGI-registered gas fitter was electrocuted whilst working on a domestic boiler without first having isolated the electricity supply. This tragic event again reinforces the need for all persons working on electrical equipment to follow safe working procedures, guidance on which is freely available in the form of one of our Best Practice Guides.

Periodic inspection reporting conference proposed If there is sufficient interest, the Council proposes to arrange a conference later this year on the subject of domestic periodic inspection reporting.

ASDA has recalled 300,000 of their own brand microwaves due to fire risk concerns. The recalled model is the ASDA Durabrand Microwave, Model number XB2316 (Barcode – 5050854397271).

Occupational health risks in construction In February, HSE launched a new website-based tool to help contractors understand and manage occupational health risks in construction more effectively. The tool is called the Construction Occupational Health Management Essentials (COHME for short).

The aim of the conference would be to review the general standard of domestic periodic inspection reporting, including associated inspection and testing issues, and to discuss how that standard may be improved for the benefit of householders and property owners. We would be interested to hear from individuals and organisations (including property owners, contractors, and registration and training bodies) who would either like to attend, or to present a paper at, the conference. To register an interest, please send an email to: pir@esc.org.uk

SBSA ‘reintegrated’ SBSA, the Scottish Building Standards Agency, ceased to be a separate Agency on 1 April, having been reintegrated with core Scottish Government in a new Directorate for the Built Environment. According to a statement issued by SBSA in advance of the reorganization, it will be business as usual so far as Certification matters are concerned. 4 SwitchedOn

ASDA recalls microwaves

Over the years, HSE and the construction industry have published plenty of guidance on specific risks. However, what's new about COHME is that it describes a framework to manage occupational health risks in general. COHME is intended to assist clients, designers and contractors, and deals with seven priority risks: • • • • • • •

Hand-arm vibration Musculo-skeletal disorders Dermatitis Noise Stress Respiratory disease, and Asbestos

The new tool can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks


COUNCIL SET TO HOST INTERNATIONAL PRODUCT SAFETY CONFERENCE

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n order to raise the profile of our product safety activities in the UK, Europe and internationally, we are pleased to announce that arrangements are being made for the Council to stage its first International Electrical Product Safety Conference in September.

encompass the economic, legislative and global aspects of consumer product safety.

The theme of the conference “Safety of electrical products in the global marketChallenges and opportunities” recognises the need for the product safety community and stakeholders to identify common issues and workable plans for improving the safety of products in a truly globalized marketplace.

• The safety of imported goods • The revision of the New Approach and the Low Voltage Directive • Ongoing initiatives in market surveillance • Counterfeiting • Protecting vulnerable consumers.

The conference, to be held at the Church House Conference Centre in London on 8 - 9 September, will provide an opportunity for consumer product safety professionals from all over the world to exchange ideas and share information, and form a platform for discussion on issues of common concern. Over the two days, a wide range of topics will be discussed through a mix of plenary and interactive themed break-out sessions that will

The programme aims to address the current big issues facing consumers and industry by tackling:

Such a comprehensive programme is expected to attract delegates from a wide range of disciplines including regulators, consumer product safety professionals, lawyers, consultants, standardization personnel, designers, manufacturers, retailers and people from consumer protection organizations. Everyone is welcome to attend, but please note that registrations are limited and will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

For further information on the conference programme, details on how to register or the opportunity to become a sponsor or exhibitor at the conference, please visit: www.escconference.org.uk or call +44 (0)207 880 6214.

EVENTS IN 2008

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e are pleased to be the headline sponsor of this year’s Scottish Home Building & Renovating Show, which will be held at the SECC, Glasgow, on 17 and 18 May. Based on our experience at the National Home Building and Renovating Show, we expect to meet many knowledgeable people at the Scottish show who will wish to discuss a wide range of electrical safety issues with us.

This is the first time we will have exhibited in Scotland. We hope that by sponsoring and attending the show, we will increase awareness of the valuable information and guidance we can give to consumers, industry and government in Scotland on electrical safety matters.

Other events we will be attending this year include: National Home Building & Renovating Show 10-13 April - NEC, Birmingham Landlord and Buy-to-let Show 18-19 April – London Olympia BBC Gardeners’ World Live 11-15 June – NEC, Birmingham Trading Standards Conference & Exhibition 24-26 June – BIC, Bournemouth Conservative Party Conference 28 Sepember -1 October – ICC, Birmingham

We have a number of tickets for the Scottish show. The first 25 people to email events@esc.org.uk will be sent a pair of tickets with our compliments. If you are one of the first 25, we will respond to your email.

Labour Party Conference 21-25 Sepember – MCCC, Manchester

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SCALDING RISK CAUSED BY OLD IMMERSION HEATER THERMOSTATS

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n January, the jury at the inquest into the death of a baby killed by scalding water when a tank collapsed in the attic above her bedroom was told that the fault could affect up to 3.5 million homes

The risk of injury from such an event is likely to be higher in homes that were built between 1945 and 1975 because, usually having been linked to back boilers, tanks are more likely to be located over bedrooms. Also, with older ‘combi boiler’ installations still utilizing a hot water cylinder, there is a risk that the hot water pipework would be unable to cope with the increase in system pressure if a faulty immersion heater caused water in the hot water cylinder to boil. To help minimize the risks to householders, electrical contractors undertaking maintenance and repairs to immersion heaters, or periodic inspections of domestic electrical installations, are asked to take note of the following:

Maintenance and repairs

It is estimated that there are some 20 million homes in the UK that have electric immersion heaters. Although in these days of central heating many of these immersion heaters will run only occasionally, failure of the thermostat in older systems having no over-temperature cut-out can lead to danger. In particular, there have been cases where, due to the failure of a thermostat, water in the cylinder has been heated to boiling point, causing it to be discharged into the cold water storage tank through the open vent pipe. Where the tank is constructed of plastic, the rise in water temperature can cause the tank material to soften. This in itself should not be a problem with relatively modern tanks if the tank base is adequately supported, but there have been cases where the tank has slumped due to inadequate support. Also, the seams of plastic tanks made to older standards may be prone to split. In either case, failure of the tank will cause scalding water to cascade into the space below. 6 SwitchedOn

• Replacement immersion heaters should comply with BS EN 60335-2-73. These must be fitted with a control thermostat and a non self-resetting over-temperature cut-out which operates independently of the thermostat. The over-temperature cutout may be combined in the same device as the thermostat but the functions must operate independently. The overtemperature cut-out must prevent the stored water exceeding 98 oC in the event of failure of the thermostat • Replacement thermostats should incorporate a similar non self-resetting over-temperature cut-out • Replacement cylinder thermostats controlling motorised valves in the primary heating circuit should be the strapped-on

or immersion type. A non self-resetting over-temperature cut-out should also be fitted to prevent the stored water temperature exceeding 98 oC. If this is adjustable, it should be set at approx 10 oC to 15 oC above the thermostat setting to prevent nuisance operation. Control thermostats incorporating a non self-resetting cut-out should only be replaced with thermostats incorporating a similar cut-out device • Thermostats, over-temperature cut-outs and combined thermostat/cut-out devices must comply with BS EN 60730.

Periodic inspections • If the immersion heater does not comply with BS EN 60335-2-73 and the cold water tank is plastic, make an appropriate observation and assign it a Recommendation Code 2 (requires improvement) • If, however, there are also signs of overheating or thermostat defects (such as blueing or burning of terminals, deteriorated cable insulation), there is condensation in the roof space, the hot water cylinder is noisy (like a large kettle), or cold water taps run warm or hot, a Recommendation Code 1 (requires urgent attention) is almost certainly warranted. The award of either a Recommendation Code 1 or a Recommendation Code 2 should result in the overall condition of the electrical installation being recorded as ‘unsatisfactory’ in the periodic inspection report form.


ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION FORUM ESTABLISHED

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he forum provides an opportunity for participating bodies to submit, for discussion, technical queries and issues relating to the application of the requirements of BS 7671, with a view to arriving at an industry consensus. The aim is to build up a data bank of agreed technical ‘Questions and Answers’, which participating bodies, installers and others can draw upon freely for the purposes of developing their own technical guidance, publications, training materials etc. As this issue went to press, the participating bodies included: Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, BSI Product Services, CORGI, ECA, ELECSA, Electrical Safety Council, IET, NAPIT, NICEIC, OFTEC and SELECT.

Neither the Council nor the forum is able to respond directly to technical questions from individual contractors or installers. Electrical contractors and installers seeking technical advice on the application of the requirements of the 17th Edition should contact their registration or trade body in the first instance. If the registration or trade body then wishes to establish a consensus of opinion, they may refer the question to the forum for consideration. Then, if the forum is able to agree an appropriate answer, it will be added to our website.

The guidance agreed by the forum can be viewed on our website www.esc.org.uk/forum

CHILD SAFETY WEEK “Child Safety Week reminds the whole community – parents, grandparents, carers, children – not to get complacent about dangers around the home, garden and schools. A lovely fun way to remind us to keep safe” Christine, Mother, Dorset

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hild Safety Week, which this year runs from 23 to 29 June, is the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s flagship community education campaign. It raises awareness of serious childhood accidents, and how to prevent them, in ways that engage children and families. The Council is an official sponsor of Child Safety Week for a second successive year, joining government departments and other organisations concerned with child safety. Child Safety Week generates media coverage for practical safety advice and last year reached 34 million people through radio, television, press and websites. This included numerous radio interviews given by our Director, Phil Buckle, with journalists keen to reveal survey findings on children’s lack of awareness of the basic dangers of electricity and to promote our ‘Switched On Kids’ website, www.switchedonkids.org.uk By providing free activity packs, Child Safety Week also acts as a catalyst for thousands of

local safety activities and events, which reach millions of children and families UK-wide. Last year, local activities reached an estimated 2.1 million parents and grandparents, and 1.8 million children and young people. Feedback on Child Safety Week’s impact was positive: “Many parents have relayed that they have revised their safety measures because it ‘made them think’ and ‘opened their eyes’ to issues they had not thought about before the awareness campaign.” Health Visitor Assistant, Bicester, Oxfordshire “The children have become more aware of sounds such as sirens and smoke alarms, and now understand what they are there for. They have also become more road aware and now understand the dangers of playing in the kitchen” Registered Childminder, Lincoln Get involved! This year, Child Safety Week runs from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 June. There are lots of ways that you can get involved, either as an individual or through your workplace: • Publicise Child Safety Week on your organisation’s website or in your company’s email bulletin and provide a link to the Child

Accident Prevention Trust’s website www.capt.org.uk for more information about the Week • Sign up to receive free Child Safety Week resources – just fill in the simple form on CAPT’s website (www.capt.org.uk) • Display Child Safety Week posters in your workplace • Distribute Child Safety Week activity packs through your networks and encourage your contacts to get involved – the packs are full of ideas for activities and events • Put out copies of Child Safety Week quizzes and competitions in your staff room, so colleagues can test just how much they know about child safety • Support activities at your child’s school or nursery, talk to your childminder about how they will celebrate the Week, and encourage your children or grandchildren to enter a safety competition • Suggest a child safety quiz night at your local community centre or pub – you could even offer electrical safety equipment such as plug-in RCDs as prizes! SwitchedOn 7


Asbestos kills! n the late 1960s, Barrie Rigby trained as an apprentice to become an electrician. He enjoyed the work and went on to be a maintenance electrician.

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EVERY WEEK, ABOUT 20 MAINTENANCE WORKERS, INCLUDING SIX ELECTRICIANS AND THREE PLUMBERS, DIE FROM ASBESTOSRELATED DISEASES

His job involved visiting different sites including some cotton mills in Oldham. His work there required him to carry out work in boiler houses, close to asbestos-lagged pipes. His wife has said that despite the nature of his work, Barrie was never given any protective clothing. Barrie was a keen runner and avid golfer. Despite his good health in June 2003, Barrie became very breathless after climbing the stairs to the third floor apartment in Menorca, where he and his family were staying on holiday. Back home in Cumbria, he visited his GP who sent him for tests at the local hospital. By August, a chest x-ray revealed what looked like lung cancer. Two weeks later, a chest consultant asked Barrie if he had ever worked with asbestos. Barrie spent the next few weeks undergoing a series of hospital tests, and also needed to have his lungs drained of fluid. On 2 October 2003, his granddaughter’s first birthday, Barrie was diagnosed with mesothelioma and told he had 12 -18 months to live.

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Barrie spent much of this painful time in hospital. It was also necessary for him to have a lung removed. Barrie Rigby died in July 2005, aged 62. Unfortunately Barrie’s story is a familiar one. It is hard to believe that every week, about 20 maintenance workers, including six electricians and three plumbers, die from asbestos-related diseases caused simply by breathing in asbestos fibres. The Health and Safety Executive has launched the Asbestos kills! campaign to make maintenance workers, especially electricians, aware that asbestos is still present in many buildings and that unless they take precautions, asbestos could kill them too. Asbestos-related diseases currently account for around 4,000 deaths a year in Great Britain, making it the UK’s single biggest cause of work related deaths. Each year, more people die from asbestos-related disease than are killed on the roads. It is predicted that in six years’ time (2013), 5,000 people in Britain alone will be dying every year from latent exposure to asbestos. Naturally occurring fibrous minerals, commonly known as asbestos, were used extensively in


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building materials from the 1950s until the mid1980s. Asbestos was versatile, plentiful and ideal in fireproofing and insulation materials. Even though many asbestos materials have been removed over the years, it is estimated that more than half a million industrial, commercial and public sector premises, plus millions of homes, still contain some form of asbestos. These buildings all need maintenance and repair from time to time and, when the asbestos fibres are disturbed by actions such as drilling or cutting, they can become deadly. Where is asbestos found in buildings? Asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be found in any building built or refurbished up until 1999. High-risk ACMs include: • Asbestos moulded or preformed lagging used as thermal insulation on pipes and boilers • Sprayed asbestos used for thermal insulation, fire protection, partitioning and ducts • Asbestos insulating board used for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts

Lower risk ACMs include: • Asbestos containing floor tiles • Asbestos cement roofing and guttering Remember, before starting a job that may involve disturbing asbestos, to check if the task falls under the requirements for licensing. Protect yourself if you are doing work that may involve disturbing asbestos

KEY: Normally non-licensed materials:

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1 Asbestos cement products 2 Textured coatings 3 Floor tiles, textiles and composites

Normally licensed materials:

• • • •

4 Sprayed coatings on

Do: • Check whether the work falls under the requirements for licensing • Ensure you’ve received asbestos awareness training

walls etc

5 Asbestos insulating board

6 Lagging 7 Loose asbestos in cavity

• Use personal protective equipment, including a suitable face mask • Clean up as you go – don’t let waste pile. And don’t sweep - use a suitable vacuum cleaner • Wash before you take a break and at the end of the day’s work, and • Put asbestos waste in a suitable sealed container. You can use a heavy-duty polythene bag, put it in a second bag, and label the outer bag to show that it contains asbestos.

• Some ceiling tiles SwitchedOn 9


Every week 6 electricians die from this hidden killer.

Any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 could contain asbestos, which is one of the most lethal dangers in the workplace. Every year there are still 4,000 deaths from asbestos related diseases. You could be working where asbestos is present right now. Don’t you owe it to your workmates, your family and yourself to find out more?

Call 0845 345 0055 now for your FREE Asbestos Information Pack. Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

Remember - asbestos waste needs to be taken to a licensed tip. Don’t: • Use work methods which create a lot of dust, such as using power tools • Take home overalls you have worn while working with asbestos • Eat or drink in the work area, or • Smoke – the risk of lung cancer from asbestos is higher among smokers Ask before you start Part of the tendering process for any job should include asking the client whether asbestos is present where work will be carried out. Those responsible for non-domestic premises have a duty to find out if asbestos is present and if so, to record where it is and its condition, so should be able to tell you. If they are unable to do so, you must ask them to find out or you will have to get tests done before you start work. In domestic premises, householders will probably not know if their homes contain asbestos, and the onus is on the employer of those carrying out the work to either find out, or to assume that asbestos is present and take the necessary precautions. If you come across any hidden or dusty materials which you suspect may contain asbestos, stop work and get advice.

Training It is important that people carrying out any work on asbestos materials are properly trained and supervised. If you do not have the right training and/or the job is not adequately supervised, there is a strong possibility that the work will not be carried out properly. This can result in you and others being exposed to asbestos fibres. If you are self-employed you will need to obtain this training yourself. If you are an employee, your employer should arrange for you to be trained. Barrie Rigby was a highly respected electrician who worked for a professional body that represents electricians and deals with electrical safety. He even wrote a book on the design of electrical services for buildings. Despite this, he didn't know about the dangers of asbestos. All electricians should be aware of the dangers and take the simple precautions necessary. Don’t let asbestos kill you. Full details of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 are available on www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/regulations.htm Further guidance on asbestos, including information on what work requires a licence and how to work safely is available on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos Workers’ campaign packs are available from HSE’s Infoline 0845 345 0055.

Enclosed with this issue of Switched On, you will find an asbestos awareness pack from the HSE. Please read and act upon the contents - it could help you to avoid becoming a victim yourself. To order further packs, visit www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/campaign/orderpack.htm 10 SwitchedOn

ALL ELECTRICIANS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE DANGERS AND TAKE THE SIMPLE PRECAUTIONS NECESSARY. DON’T LET ASBESTOS KILL YOU.


REGULATORS LIKELY TO BE GIVEN GREATER POWERS

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new Act has been proposed that will give much greater powers to regulators, including the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities, to impose alternative penalties, including on-the-spot fines, on businesses that commit regulatory breaches. These include breaches of the Electricity at Work Regulations and Building Regulations.

• Fixed monetary penalties – it is envisaged that such fines will be imposed by a regulator in respect of low-level, minor or high volume instances of non-compliance, without the need to resort to criminal prosecution • Discretionary requirements which include:

The Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill is a response to the Macrory Review, which identified inconsistencies and restraints in powers available to regulators.

• Variable monetary penalties – requiring a person to pay a monetary penalty whose size will be determined by the regulator

The review found that the use of criminal prosecutions can be a disproportionate response in many instances of regulatory non-compliance and that penalties handed down by the courts often failed to act as a sufficient deterrent. It recommended an extension of monetary penalties and a strengthening of statutory notices to work alongside the criminal law.

• Compliance notices – requiring a noncompliant business to undertake certain actions to bring themselves back into compliance, and

If enacted, the Bill, which extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, will establish a new statutory body called the Local Better Regulation Office. The Bill creates new sanctions for regulators, including:

• Restoration notices – requiring a person to undertake certain actions to restore the position, as far as possible, to the way it would have been had regulatory non-compliance not occurred. • Stop notices – requiring a person to cease an activity that has given rise, or is likely to give rise, to regulatory non-compliance; and

• Enforcement undertakings – an agreement offered by a person to a regulator to take specific actions related to what the regulator suspects to be an offence. The options available under the Bill will also give wider whistleblowing opportunities to employees and greater sanctioning options to the regulators. In addition, employers are likely to feel greater pressure because the regulators will be able to speed up punishment and therefore cut delay in dealing with backlogs. In conjunction with the proposed extension of the time limit for Building Regulations prosecutions reported in previous issues of Switched On, the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill promises to give local authorities in England and Wales the additional powers they need to effectively tackle those electrical installers who continue to ignore the requirements of Part P.

NEW SYSTEM FOR REPORTING BREACHES OF BUILDING REGULATIONS

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n addition to the proposed regulatory changes reported in the previous article, a new initiative has been agreed between Building Regulations competent person scheme operators and local authorities in England and Wales that promises a more effective way of dealing with rogue installers. Members of competent person schemes who become aware of notifiable work being carried out by unregistered installers have been asked to report those installers to their registration body. If the report includes sufficient evidence of a breach of the Building Regulations, the registration body will pass the information to the relevant local authority via a new dedicated reporting system which will be monitored by LABC, the national body representing Local Authority Building Control. SwitchedOn 11


NEW ELECTRICAL SAFETY OF PRODUCTS COMMITTEE FORMED

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e are pleased to announce the establishment of an ‘Electrical Safety of Products Committee’ as a sub-committee of the Council’s Technical Committee. Its purpose is to assist us in our efforts to improve the electrical safety of consumer products. The committee consists of Council staff and co-opted members from industry representing a wide range of organisations, associations, institutions and regulatory bodies, all with an interest or involvement in product safety matters. Active members include: • Age Concern • AMDEA (Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances)

• Intertek (ASTA BEAB) • BEAMA (British Electrotechnical & Allied Manufacturers Association) • Institution of Engineering and Technology • RoSPA • Trading Standards Institute • UNITE ‘Papers only’ members include: • ABI (Association of British Insurers) • BASEC (British Approvals Service for Cables) • BERR (Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform) • BSI Consumer Safety Policy Committee • Chief Fire Officers’ Association

The inaugural meeting took place in January. The committee will now meet on a quarterly basis, mainly to: • Advise on electrical safety issues of significance to the Council relating to consumer products that are intended to be connected to extra-low voltage or low voltage supplies • Consider and advise on draft material proposed for publication in this magazine, on our website and elsewhere. We would like to thank those representatives who were able to accept our invitation to join the committee, and for the valuable contributions they are able offer.

GUIDE FOR CONSUMERS WHEN ORDERING DOMESTIC ELECTRICAL WORK

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he release of the Guide for Consumers when ordering domestic electrical work was publicised to consumers in March with a media campaign which included radio messaging.

It is also planned to include the Guide in some of the Yellow Pages directories, and we are pleased to be working with Yell’s Consumer Development Team (see page 18) to make this happen. This will be a great help to consumers, as the Guide will be directly to hand when they use the directories to find an electrical installer.

The Guide, which was produced in collaboration with the Institution of Engineering & Technology, has already been welcomed by many electrical installers who said that they will be using it to help improve communication with their customers. We have also received positive feedback and support from consumer groups and local authority building control departments who see the Guide as an effective way of giving consumers advice and guidance up front, to help ensure they get the service they expect.

Home maintenance complaints and enquiries combined

In January this year, Consumer Direct released its statistics for 2007, which show that complaints about electrical services and installations rose by 15% to 2,890. This increase was significantly greater than the overall increase in home maintenance complaints, which rose by 8% to 72,134. It is hoped that by encouraging consumers to use the quotation request form in the Guide, it will help to reduce the number of complaints about electrical installers over the coming year, something we will be paying close attention to. The full Guide can be downloaded free of charge from the ‘find an electrician’ section of our website (www.esc.org.uk). A printer-friendly version of the quotation request form has now been made available following requests from electrical installers who wish to print copies on their own letterhead paper. (Visit www.esc.org.uk/consumerguide).

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BEST PRACTICE GUIDES Periodic inspection reporting The guidance on the use of recommendation codes for domestic and similar periodic inspection reports has now been published on our website, as Guide No 4. Entitled Periodic Inspection Reporting Recommendation Codes for domestic and similar electrical installations, this fourth Guide was developed in association with: • • • •

Electrical Contractors’ Association Institution of Engineering and Technology NICEIC Group Ltd Society of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Serving Local Government • SELECT (Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland) Subsequently, CORGI and ELECSA also confirmed their support for the guidance.

The examples of common observations given in the new Guide have been arranged such that: • Recommendation Code 1 is assigned to observations indicating that real and immediate danger exists, or would exist in the event of a fault occurring in the installation (such as where accessible live parts are exposed to touch, or where there is no effective means of earthing) • Recommendation Code 2 is assigned to items where potential danger exists (such as where there is no main bonding, or where there is a borrowed neutral).

Fire precautions Work continues on the development of the Best Practice Guide on the impact of electrical installation work on fire precautions in domestic premises, where the work involves the penetration or removal of linings forming ceilings or walls. Generally, fire safety in buildings requires that in the event of a fire, the structure resists collapse and critical elements provide fire separation for the purposes of constructing fire compartments and or protected escape routes. In a typical two storey house for example, the floor between ground and first floor has never had anything other than a minor separating function in the event of a fire, primarily because none of the doors to the rooms off the staircase have to be fire resisting. Indeed, open plan stairs are common.

As previously reported, the guidance embodies a new concept. This is that any observation given a Recommendation Code 2 (requires improvement), not just a Recommendation Code 1 (requires urgent attention), should result in the overall assessment of the condition of the installation being recorded as unsatisfactory. Previous guidance has been that only one or more observations given a Recommendation Code 1 should automatically result in the overall assessment being given as unsatisfactory. However, this has commonly led to Recommendation Code 2 observations being ignored by many householders and other persons responsible for the safety of such potentially dangerous electrical installations.

The floor, however, is required to provide 30 minutes load bearing capacity to prevent complete structural collapse. This gives some protection to occupants should they be trapped upstairs, and also protects fire fighters who may be engaged in search and rescue. It is this load bearing capacity that is threatened by early failure of the ceiling lining, not the fire separating function. The advice given in the Guide is therefore aimed primarily at preserving the structural integrity of the premises. Many modern forms of engineered construction are heavily reliant on the contribution made by the plasterboard, or similar linings, used in the construction of the critical elements for their fire resistance and this can be readily compromised by inadequate 'making good' after any penetration to accommodate electrical equipment and associated wiring.

The components that have been identified as having direct and significant influence on the fire performance of the critical elements include: • flush-mounted consumer units • concealed and recessed luminaires including downlighters • flush-mounted electrical socket-outlets, flex outlet plates and data points • flush-mounted switches, detection and control devices • recessed wall luminaires • concealed speakers. With regard to the installation of downlighters, the guidance to be given is that downlighters with integral fire protection are the recommended type for installing in all ceilings where the lining that is being penetrated is the sole method of keeping fire and heat out of the cavity. It is hoped to publish this Guide before the next issue of Switched On is issued, and to increase awareness of the important guidance it contains by launching it at a seminar for electrical installers and other building professionals later in the year.

Other Guides Copies of all published Best Practice Guides can be downloaded free of charge from the ‘Business & Community’ section of our website, and also from the websites of several of the other contributors. In addition to the Guide on recommendation codes (No 4), the published Guides include: No 1. Replacing a consumer unit where lighting circuits have no circuit protective conductor No 2. Safe isolation procedures for low voltage installations No 3. Connecting a microgeneration system to a domestic or similar electrical installation Further Best Practice Guides in the series may include replacing domestic consumer units, dealing with the effects of flooding, avoiding the dangers of asbestos, and the use of plug-in socket-outlet testers. News about the development and availability of these and other guides will be announced from time to time on our website, and in future issues of Switched On.

SwitchedOn 13


DOES THE 17th EDITION REQUIRE A NEW TEST FOR RCDs? BS 7671: 2008 (IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition) was published in January and comes into effect on 1 July. A rumour has been circulating amongst electrical contractors that the 17th Edition requires RCDs to be subjected to a test at twice their rated residual operating current (2 I∆n). However, as explained in this article, the familiar currents of 0.5 I∆n, 1 I∆n and 5 I∆n (as applicable) should be all that are needed when testing RCDs in the vast majority of installations, as is the case under the 16th Edition. A 2 I∆n test would be needed only in exceptional circumstances. But even where this is the case, it does not necessarily mean that an RCD test instrument having a 2 I∆n test setting is required.

Examples of the maximum disconnection times permitted by the 17th Edition, for a.c. circuits of nominal voltage (U0) 230 V to Earth, are 0.2 s, 0.4 s, 1 s and 5 s (0.4 s being the most common in TN systems and 0.2 s in TT systems). The table below gives the maximum tripping times for the most commonly used types of RCD at residual currents of 1 I∆n, 2 I∆n and 5 I∆n, as specified in the relevant British Standards. It can readily be appreciated from the Table that when verifying the operation of the RCDs listed in the Table within disconnection times of 0.2 s, 0.4 s, 1 s or 5 s, either a 1 I∆n test or a 5 I∆n test is always suitable. For example, a 1 I∆n test is suitable for verifying the operation of: • a BS 4293 or BS 7288 non-delay RCD within a disconnection time of 0.2 s, and • any non-delay RCD referred to in the Table within a disconnection time of 0.4 s or 1 s or 5 s.

The rumour seems to have originated from Note 2 of Table 41.1 of the 17th Edition, which gives maximum permitted disconnection times for final circuits rated at up to 32 A. The note states that: “Where compliance with this regulation is provided by an RCD, the disconnection times in accordance with Table 41.1 relate to prospective residual fault currents significantly higher than the rated residual operating current of the RCD (typically 2 I∆n).” However, Note 2 does not mean that a 2 I∆n test is required.

A 5 I∆n test is suitable for verifying the operation of (for example):

The basic requirement of the 17th Edition for testing RCDs with a test instrument (which must comply with BS EN 61557-6) is that it must be verified that the relevant requirements of Chapter 41 are met (Regulations 612.8.1 and 612.10 refer). These requirements depend on which type of electric shock protection the RCD is being used to provide – fault protection or additional protection.

A 2 I∆n test would be necessary only in exceptional circumstances. An example is where a current of 1 I∆n may legitimately not be enough to trip an RCD within the maximum disconnection time permitted by

Fault protection (protection against indirect contact) For an RCD being used for fault protection, it must be verified by test that the device would operate within the relevant maximum disconnection time permitted by the 17th Edition if an earth fault occurred in the circuit protected by the device.

BS 7671 (such as where a BS EN 61008-1 RCD is used in a circuit where a disconnection time not exceeding 0.2 s is required), but the test instrument will not perform a 5 I∆n test for the particular rating of RCD concerned. (Some RCD test instruments will only perform a 5 I∆n test for RCDs of rated residual operating current (I∆n) 30 mA or less.) Where this is the case, sufficient test current to trip the RCD within the required time may be obtained by setting the test instrument to suit an RCD of a higher rated residual operating current than the RCD being tested. For example, if a 100 mA BS EN 61008-1 nondelay RCD was being tested to verify operation within 0.2 s, the test instrument could be set to test a 300 mA RCD at a current of 1 I∆n. This would be equivalent to testing the 100 mA RCD at three times its rated residual operating current (3 I∆n). As can be deduced from the Table 1, a test current of 3 I∆n would be suitable to verify operation of the device within 0.2 s, as this current exceeds 2 I∆n (the current that BS EN 61008-1 requires to cause operation within a maximum of 0.15 s). Additional protection (supplementary protection against direct contact)

• any delay type RCD referred to in Table 1 within a disconnection time of 1 s or 5 s, and • a BS EN 61008-1 or BS EN 61009-1 nondelay RCD within a disconnection time of 0.2 s.

An RCD used for additional protection must have a rated residual operating current (I∆n) not exceeding 30 mA and an operating time not exceeding 40 ms at a residual current of 5 I∆n (Regulation 415.1.1 of the 17th Edition refers). The test procedure currently used under the 16th Edition for RCDs used for this purpose is therefore still applicable (a 0.5 I∆n (no trip) test followed by a 1 I∆n test and a 5 I∆n test).

Tripping times for RCDs at residual currents of 1 I∆n, 2 I∆n and 5 I∆n Trip time RCD type British Standard BS EN 61008-1 (RCCBs) BS EN 61009-1 (RCBOs) Non-delay (general) BS 4293 (RCCBs) BS 7288 (SRCDs) BS EN 61008-1 (RCCBs) BS EN 61009-1 (RCBOs) Delay

BS 4293 (RCCBs)

At 1 I∆n

At 2 I∆n

Within 300 ms

Within 150 ms

Within 40 ms

Within 200 ms

_

Within 40 ms

Within 500 ms

Within 200 ms

Within 150 ms

Between 200 ms + 50 % of time delay and 200 ms + 100 % of time delay

_

Between 40 ms + 50 % of time delay and 40 ms + 100 % of time delay

Note: A 0.5 I∆n test should also be carried out, to check for unwanted tripping. 14 SwitchedOn

At 5 I∆n


W

e have been made aware from various sources, including Fire & Rescue Services up and down the country, of a growing electrical safety problem amongst migrant communities. Many Eastern Europeans living in the UK are putting themselves and their families at risk of electric shock or fire by continuing to use, without adaptation, electrical appliance leads that have 2-pin ‘Europlugs’. These plugs, which are quite safe to use with the electrical installations in their countries of origin, do not incorporate a fuse. The way in which they have been able to continue using these non-BS 1363 type plugs in the UK is by overriding the safety shutter mechanism in 13 Amp socketoutlets.

This practice is potentially dangerous, not least because the appliance lead will almost certainly not be adequately rated for connection to a UK ring final circuit having a 30 or 32 Amp protective device. Forcing the 2-pin plugs in may also damage the plugs or the sockets. With the number of Eastern Europeans coming to settle in the UK on the increase, we are keen to find ways of reaching them to make them aware of the potential dangers to themselves and their families, to encourage them to desist from the unsafe practice, and to offer practical assistance.

We are helping to overcome the problem by promoting the use of fused, purpose-made 3pin conversion plugs. When correctly fitted and fused, these conversion plugs enable 2-pin Europlugs to be safely connected to standard UK 13 Amp socket-outlets. We are supplying thousands of these conversion plugs free of charge to Fire & Rescue Services across the UK, for them to give out when they come across the problem during their home safety checks.

Photos courtesy of PowerConnections

MIGRANT COMMUNITIES PUTTING THEMSELVES AT RISK

MANUFACTURERS RESPOND TO CONCERNS OVER TRAVEL ADAPTORS

I

n last autumn’s edition of Switched On, we reported on the findings of an independent laboratory we had commissioned to test a selection of travel adaptors that were readily available on the UK market.

We have also been meeting with the manufacturers of the particular adaptors concerned to discuss in more detail the safety issues identified, and to encourage action to be taken at the very heart of the supply chain.

Their investigation revealed significant electrical safety hazards that were common to most of the adaptors tested, particularly to those that did not incorporate all the safeguards found in socket-outlets conforming to the UK product standard BS 1363.

We were pleased to be informed by a major UK travel adaptor manufacturer earlier this year that they were already modifying the design of their products to address the safety issues we had drawn to their attention.

As soon as the hazards became apparent, we alerted those responsible in the supply chain for the safety of the particular adaptors tested. We also stated our intention to monitor the situation to help ensure that appropriate action was being taken by manufacturers, suppliers and the relevant authorities to remove, or at least minimize, the electric shock risk to users. To this end, a number of initiatives have been set in motion. To establish the safety of travel adaptors as a high priority for local and central government, we raised our concerns in October last year with MPs and others representing regulatory and consumer interests at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards.

We will continue to work closely with them and other manufacturers to build upon the positive steps that have been taken so far to improve the safety of travel adaptors supplied to the UK market. However, it has become evident from discussions with manufacturers and product certification bodies that working with those in the supply chain alone will not necessarily ensure the safety of future products. The absence of any specific reference to a UK product standard for travel adaptors (intended for use outside the UK) in Statutory Regulations has resulted in significant differences of opinion within the industry as to which product standard, if any, is most applicable.

This deficiency in UK legislation and standards has been acknowledged by government in their response to a public consultation on draft Regulations to replace the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, and in an earlier proposal by BSI to prepare a draft British Standard for travel adaptors, based on BS 1363: Part 3. Through our representation on relevant BSI product standard technical committees, we intend to pursue the development of a British Standard for travel adaptors that will clearly set out and underpin the safety requirements for such products, and meet consumer expectations. Anyone who is concerned that they have purchased an unsafe 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 an electrical product they have recently purchased. Please send details to: productsafety@esc.org.uk or write to us at: Product Safety, The Electrical Safety Council 18 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB SwitchedOn 15


TrustMark – the way for consum rustMark is the Government-backed initiative, supported by consumer protection organizations and the building industry, to help householders find reliable and trustworthy tradesmen to carry out repair and improvements to the inside and outside of their homes – from builders and electricians, to roofing specialists and landscape gardeners.

Cowboy builders and rogue traders are an annual £1.5 billion problem for consumers across the country. Cowboy builders ruin the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year, and give a bad name to an industry which in reality is full of hard-working and trustworthy professionals.

The Consumer Minister, Gareth Thomas MP, recently launched the TrustMark Consumer Forum. This initiative received considerable interest from consumer protection organisations that want to engage further with TrustMark.

• allow firms and individuals that already have good competence and customer care practises to demonstrate why they offer better protection to homeowners

T

DODGY BUILDERS COST HOMEOWNERS MILLIONS OF POUNDS EVERY YEAR.

The Minister said: “Dodgy builders cost homeowners millions of pounds every year. They are one of the most common causes of complaint to Consumer Direct. This is why the work that TrustMark is doing to drive up standards is so important. It’s crucial that continues, as there are still too many rogue traders and businesses who prey on vulnerable people and undermine honest traders.” “TrustMark is the opportunity everyone has been looking for to give consumers exactly what they want, need and deserve: the confidence to employ tradesmen throughout the home, not get ripped off, to judge tradesmen on other aspects than merely price and to be safe in the knowledge that their money is protected, competence is assured and further protection is given through a robust inspection and complaints procedure.”

16 SwitchedOn

TrustMark seeks to:

• use the Government Endorsed Standards to improve the competence and customer care of firms that currently fall short • improve the standard of existing trade and commercial organisations that apply for a TrustMark Scheme operator licence. To date, every licensed organization including a number of trade bodies has had to change something about the way they work with their members in order to gain a licence such as ending ‘selfpolicing’, introducing independent inspections or offering FSA regulated insurance-backed warranties.

What TrustMark does and does not offer • A firm’s technical skills have been independently checked through regular on-site inspections, as well checks on their trading records and financial position


mers to find reliable tradesmen • The firm has signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety practices, and customer care • The approved scheme operator has checked and will continue to monitor their quality of work, trading practices and customer satisfaction • The firm will tell homeowners about any building regulations they must meet and may be able to provide the certificates they need • If homeowners have a problem or disagreement with the firm, there will be a clear and userfriendly complaints procedure to help sort out the problem • If the firm doesn't automatically provide insurance cover, homeowners will have the option to buy a warranty. Customers may have problems on occasion but, if they do, they’re covered through the Insurance Backed Warranty facility and the independent complaints process • In return for this level of reassurance, customers are expected to deal fairly with the firm, agree a fair price for good work, and pay quickly when the job is finished • TrustMark firms will be appropriately qualified, trade legally, are signed up to a Code of Practice that ensures they look after their customers, will dispose of materials in an ecologically friendly manner, will work safely, inform customers of Building regulations if relevant,

have been independently inspected, will offer warranties on work over £250 which is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and have an independent complaints and disciplinary process What TrustMark doesn’t offer is a guarantee that customers will never have problems. However, if they do, they are well-protected by the scheme. Working through approved scheme operators, TrustMark can now offer the public, access to a wide range of trades, including electricians, builders, plumbers and heating engineers, garden landscaping, roofing contractors, damp-proofing and timber treatment specialists, glaziers, fence installers, conservatory companies, drainage contractors, joiners, plasterers, painters and decorators and service agents. By using the TrustMark website, people can search the list of approved organisations by simply selecting the trade they require and then adding in their local postcode. This gives access to the many thousands of TrustMark registered tradesmen on their books.

To find out how to become a TrustMark-registered firm, visit www.trustmark.org.uk SwitchedOn 17


YELL – WORKING TO PROTECT THE CONSUMER

Y

ell takes its responsibilities in relation to consumer protection very seriously, and is committed to supporting and protecting users of its products, including Yellow Pages, Yell.com, and Yellow Pages 118 24 7.

Clearly both NICEIC and CORGI fall into these categories, and Yell has worked closely with both organisations since the outset by checking that their logos are not used incorrectly within Yell’s products.

A dedicated consumer development team was established more than ten years ago to actively promote consumer protection within its products, focusing predominantly on the home improvement sector.

Wendy Bridge, head of consumer development at Yell, said: “This activity is the cornerstone of our work with NICEIC, CORGI and selected trade associations. It sends a strong message to our advertisers and has removed all incidents of traders ‘passing off’ as trade association members within the sectors that we work.”

By working with a number of key trade associations and bodies within the UK (including NICEIC and CORGI), Yell has established strong relationships in order to stamp out those advertisers who seek to mislead the consumer by including false information in their advertising. Selecting trade associations and other bodies to work with is not a simple process. Yell look to those with the following criteria: • • • • •

membership qualifications membership vetting codes of conduct complaint/arbitration procedures member disciplinary procedures

In addition to the checking of logos, Yell actively supports various conferences and exhibitions arranged by NICEIC, CORGI and selected trade associations, in order to demonstrate Yell’s support for the organisations and their members. Yell also publishes consumer tips and advice in specific classification headings of the Yellow Pages directory. The aim is to ensure that consumers are able to make an informed choice, using the simple tips that have been provided by the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR). The tips also include the website address of BERR’s Consumer Direct, giving a full range of impartial consumer information.

COUNCIL LIAISES WITH THE ENERGY NETWORKS ASSOCIATION

E

NA, the Energy Networks Association, is the trade association for UK energy transmission and distribution licence holders and operators, acting in the interest of its members in the energy 'wires and pipes' sectors. ENA's Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) team co-ordinate safety, health and environmental issues to help its members achieve their business objectives safely.

As well as managing the industry sector accident database and producing quarterly updates, the SHE team oversees the industry SAFELEC 2010 initiative, which sets targets for reductions in accidents and cases of ill health, 18 SwitchedOn

and publishes a range of public safety guidance leaflets. The team liaises with the industry bodies including regulators such as HSE, BERR, the Environment Agency, and with other interested parties including the Electrical Safety Council, to develop a partnership approach to managing SHE issues. One such issue is the ongoing difficulties electrical contractors have when needing to arrange the temporary disconnection of the electricity supply to domestic premises to enable them to carry out certain work, such as the replacement of consumer units, in safety.

ENA is currently in discussion with the ECA, NICEIC and SELECT, together with the HSE and ourselves, about the possibility of authorizing competent persons other than meter operatives to withdraw service fuses in order to effect temporary isolation. For further information about ENA and the forthcoming SHE2008 conference (24 - 25 April), visit www.energynetworks.org


LESSONS ARISING FROM AN ELECTRICAL FIRE

D

uring 2007, a serious fire occurred in a residential property. Fortunately the occupants were evacuated before anyone was seriously harmed. This article, written by John Madden, HM Principal Inspector (Electrical Engineering) with the HSE, briefly explains the circumstances of the incident and draws out some important lessons that can be learned by electrical contractors and others. “Investigations carried out by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that the fire most probably started in a wall-mounted extractor fan in one of the property’s shower rooms. The fan, which was supplied at 230 volts and incorporated an adjustable delay-off timer, was switched on and off by a pull-cord switch that also switched the shower room’s light. The fan was installed about 200 mm above the shower head, within reach of people using the shower, and inside the space that is defined as zone 2 in Section 601 of BS 7671: 2001. It had been installed in that location during the mid-1990s, well before the zoning requirements of Section 601 were published, and it had been in continuous use since then. Although the fan had an ingress protection rating of IP44, the manufacturer’s installation instructions specifically advised that the fan was not suitable for installation inside a shower cubicle. The instructions also stipulated that the fan should have been supplied through a 2-pole switch incorporating a 3 amp fuse. The illustration shows the as-installed supply arrangements to the fan, indicating that the instruction relating to the 3 amp fuse had not been followed. The extent of the fire damage meant that the precise cause of the fire could only be a matter of informed speculation, but it is most likely that long-term moisture ingress had caused deterioration of the insulation or created tracking paths on the fan’s internal components. The flow of fault current would have created the conditions for the generation of heat that could have been sufficient to cause the fire.

just of the electrician’s work but also of the verification process that should have been carried out at the time of the installation to confirm compliance with BS 7671. Another important issue concerns the effectiveness of routine preventive maintenance of the fixed electrical system, which comprised formal inspections and tests carried out by electricians on a five-yearly cycle. A legitimate question to be asked is why the unsafe location of the fan was not identified during routine periodic inspections of the electrical installation? Perhaps a more basic question concerns whether or not it is reasonable to expect this type of installation error to be picked up during periodic inspections. My own view is that the electricians who carried out these periodic inspections should have recognised the unsafe location of the fan and brought it to the attention of the property’s owners. My justification for making this observation is as follows. Firstly, IEE Guidance Note 3 Inspection and Testing explains that, among other things, the purpose of periodic inspection and testing is to provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, for the identification of installation defects and non-compliance with the requirements of the Regulations (BS 7671) which may give rise to danger. Secondly, the Schedule of Inspections introduced in BS7671: 2001 specifically requires the person carrying out a periodic inspection to check particular protective measures for special installations and locations. This would include checking the electrical safety of installations in bathrooms and shower rooms. I would argue that, at the very least, it is reasonable to expect that any periodic inspection carried out after the introduction of this Schedule would identify the unsafe location of the extractor fan and bring it to the attention of the client as a Code 1 observation – requiring urgent attention.

Lesson 2 The people who install fixed electrical equipment such as extractor fans must read the manufacturer’s installation instructions and then follow those instructions. Lesson 3 The importance of the verification process being carried out thoroughly and diligently by competent people should not be underestimated. Lesson 4 Electricians who carry out visual inspections of electrical installations should do so thoroughly and diligently. If they fill in the Schedule of Inspections to indicate compliance with the requirements relating to special locations such as bathrooms and shower rooms, they should ensure that those requirements are in fact satisfied. If the actions associated with any one of these lessons had actually been implemented at the appropriate time, this incident would not have happened and people’s lives would not have been put at risk. I very much hope that electricians and others reading this will take these lessons to heart.”

2-pole disconnector Consumer unit (10 outgoing ways)

Junction box

Pull switch Switched live Permanent live

2-core and earth 1.5 mm2 cable

Ceiling light

So what lessons can be drawn from this incident? I suggest that there are four, as follows: Extractor fan

HSE’s investigation concluded that the supply to the fan was unsafe and that the work carried out by the electricians who originally installed the fan was of a poor standard. The incident raises questions about the quality not

10 Amp Type B circuit-breaker

Lesson 1 Installation work of this nature should be carried out only by people who have the appropriate skills and knowledge and who are able to apply them diligently and consistently.

IP44; delay-off timer

As-installed supply arrangements SwitchedOn

19


COMPACT FLUORESCENT LAMPS – NOT SO FRIENDLY?

R

ecent press reports have highlighted the potential risks posed by low-energy compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) if broken, or disposed of carelessly. The health and environmental issues relating to this type of lamp have become more significant following government plans announced late last year to phase out by 2011 the traditional, incandescent, type of light bulb for energy conservation reasons. Although the risks are considered to be minimal, an understanding of the issues will help to prevent potential harm to people and the environment.

Broken lamps Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has warned consumers that if a compact fluorescent lamp is smashed, the room should be evacuated, and ventilated for 15 minutes. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up the debris, and care should be taken not to inhale the dust.

purchased. Some retailers are members of the Distributor Take-back Scheme, which operates to afford compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. Specialist companies then collect the lamps from the waste disposal sites or retailers, and safely recycle the materials.

Other types of fluorescent lamp They have further advised that the lamp should be cleared up, using rubber gloves, by carefully collecting the broken material (including fine particles) and putting it into a sealed plastic bag. The bag should then be taken to the local council waste disposal site.

Whilst the recent press reports related to compact fluorescent lamps, the advice applies equally to the linear fluorescent lamps often used in kitchens and garages, as well as in offices and shops.

Unbroken lamps Compact fluorescent lamps contain a small quantity of mercury which can be harmful if it accumulates in the body. Risks of low level mercury poisoning may occur when lamps are broken, but the issues relating to correct disposal procedures and the environment also need to be considered.

Unbroken lamps should also be taken to local council waste disposal sites, where there should be a facility to collect and safely dispose of them. Another option might be to return lamps to the retailer from where they were originally

MOUSE KILLED AS IT STARTS ELECTRICAL FIRE

F

irefighters called to a fuse box shortcircuiting in a pub near Oswestry found the culprit had paid the ultimate price for tampering with electricity. When Station Officer Mike Wilkinson took the cover off the box, he found a dead mouse inside.

A fire crew was called to the Lime Kiln in Porthywaen just after midnight yesterday to reports of a fire inside the fuse box.

BACK ISSUES OF SWITCHED ON All the previous issues of Switched On are available to read or download from the ‘Business & Community’ section of our website, www.esc.org.uk 20 SwitchedOn

‘When we arrived the supply was shortcircuiting,” Mr Wilkinson said. “We isolated the supply and contacted the electricity company. However, when I took the cover off the fuse box, there was a mouse, dead inside. It had obviously been exploring or perhaps had climbed inside to keep warm. “The landlady at the Lime Kiln screamed when she saw the mouse.” Story courtesy of Shropshire Star newspaper

He said if the fuse box had short-circuited in the middle of the night and gone undetected it may have led to a fire in the premises.

Switched On Issue 8  

Switched On the Electrical Safety Council's quarterly magazine: Asbestos Kills!

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