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Playing the Part

Release Date: 05/09/2011

Chris Beedel, ECA certification director prepares for the Government’s Review of
Part P and calls for plain English and ‘more teeth’.

The Government’s up-and-coming review of Part P will present a unique opportunity for the industry to get a straight-talking certification process that has real teeth, according to Chris Beedel, certification director for the ECA.

Beedel argues that the industry needs the safety standard recognition that is enjoyed by the Gas sector, with greater enforceability and plain English at the vanguard of any change.

Currently, there is no enforceability of Part P other than it would raise questions with vendors of homes when they come to be sold as they need to prove to potential buyers that electrical work has been notified to the local authority.

In the gas sector there are unlimited fines for unsafe gas installation and repair work under the Gas Safe scheme, previously the Corgi registration, and that enforceability is the joint responsibility of the local authority and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Gas Safety Installation and Use Act 1998.

Under the Act Landlords are obliged to conduct annual checks of rented accommodation gas installations, but there is no like-for-like enforceability power for electrical works, despite the fact that any corner cutting could result in death or serious injury with little or no impact upon the installer.

“ELECSA Approved Contractors want to see a level playing field where electrical safety is put first and work is properly certificated and notified.  The law should enforce this practice but in reality there is little in the way of prosecutions for unsafe and dangerous work.  This sends a confused message to the consumer and the industry,” says Beedel.

The review which will be published in 2012 begins with a consultation in less than two months time.  ELECSA, the certification arm of the ECA, took a sample of its almost 7000 registrants to gauge their views.
Of almost 1300 ELECSA contractors sampled almost 60% said that the standard of work had improved since Part P was introduced in 2005 to ensure that electrical work carried out in the UK’s dwellings was undertaken by qualified electricians and that the work had been notified to the local authority.  

The research carried out in May of this year found that contractors had a dimmer view of DIY re-wiring and that 44% of contractors found the electrical standards on jobs they had inherited to be poor.

“This is a far-reaching review. As an organisation established by electricians for electricians we want Part P to remain and to be improved.  This will send a message of confidence to the industry and consumers who are probably unaware that the current system does not enjoy the safety parity with the gas industry. There are some issues around complexity and understanding what notifiable work means, and we as an industry have the opportunity to shape that. We need an all-embracing, jargon-free system that makes it easier for contractors and consumers to understand what Part P means and that has real teeth to make sure bad practice is eradicated,” says Beedel.