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Not Getting Our Wires Crossed

Release Date: 04/07/2011

Electrical contractors are in danger of getting their wires crossed because of the confusion and contradictory information surrounding Amendment No. 1 of BS7671:2008 requirements for electrical installations (17th Edition Wiring Regulations) which is due to be published on 1 July 2011.

This is the cautionary tone from ELECSA, one of the UK’s leading competent person schemes that is run by electricians for electricians. The assessment and certification body with over 6,500 approved Part P contractors has been touring the UK with a Wiring Regulation roadshow to explain the new changes to contractors as well as teaming up with parent organisation, the ECA, to launch a new online training package for the 17th Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations.

By mid-July, ELECSA will have staged almost 30 roadshow seminars, the purpose of which is to explain the facts and discard myths surrounding implementation as well as directing its existing contractors to its free helpline that provides practical advice from electrical engineers who understand the issues surrounding the new Wiring Regulations amendment.

Amendment No. 1 of BS7671:2008 is scheduled for publication on 1 July 2011, but between 30 June and 31 December 2011 contractors have a choice to work with either the new regulations or the existing standard providing they specify which they have followed on the certificate for their work. From 1 January 2012 all new installations must comply with the new BS7671:2008  Amendment No. 1.

“There is a lot of misinformation about the new Wiring Regulations based upon rumour only and our job is to put over the facts,” says Connor Flynn, lead assessor for ELECSA who has already presented to a number of the roadshow audiences.

The message from ELECSA is clear: “Get the facts rather than listen to the rumours. There is nothing to fear from the amendments, particularly for those contractors whose bread and butter work is exclusively household related. This is because there are few changes that impact their day–to-day working.”

Changes are likely to be felt by contractors working in larger commercial, industrial or medical buildings where they need to be aware of new amendments relating to electro-magnetic interference, surges or where a lightning strike may impact power in critical care units, for example. There is also a new numbering system for regulations specific to the UK market that will affect all contractors.

Flynn says: “Despite the fact that there are 100 new pages compared to the existing regulations, there are very few changes and those that are there are more about proving compliance to the regulations laid down in the 2008 edition than any new thinking.” 

“There are no major changes to the landscape but the new amendment helps show compliance in line with the EU harmonisation requirements previously laid down. People do not like change, but it will be better and of greater benefit. What we want is for people attending the seminars to engage with ELECSA and the ECA for trusted and accurate guidance as to how the changes impact them. If in any doubt, they can simply call the helpline” he added.

The same principle applies to the ECA 17th Edition online learning tool. Flynn adds: “We want to make training as accessible and convenient as possible for busy contractors to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations and requirements.”

Those contractors that have already achieved their 17th Edition qualification will not need to sit an update course.  Those contractors who have not yet done their 17th Edition qualification will need to ensure that they have before their next assessment.  To help those who are still looking for a course, the ECA has launched a full 17th Edition course online.

The new online course is ideal for electrical contractors who need a flexible approach to training away from the traditional classroom environment. The course consists of audio, visual and interactive content allowing candidates to learn at their own pace. It is also important to note that those signing up for the course will get an additional module explaining the amendments free of charge.

The final assessment does still need to be undertaken at an approved City and Guilds or EAL training centre. Discounts are available when the course and assessment are purchased together. The course, taken on its own, costs just £280+VAT, and when the course and assessment are booked together, the total cost is £340+VAT. Further information is available from the ECA website at www.eca.co.uk/online17th

The 17th Edition Amendment No. 1 will require all contractors to have a new Wiring Regulations book which is available through ELECSA.  ECA members and ELECSA approved contractors enjoy discounted pricing.