Final Fix: Change is Inevitable

Final Fix: Change is Inevitable

In June 2018 it’s expected that the IET will release the 18th Edition of the wiring regulations. Tony Cable explains why change is rarely accepted at first and why it will be bittersweet moment for him when they do arrive.

While it might seem a long way off, I can tell you from previous experience that the updated wiring regulations will come around quickly, so mark the date in your diaries now – 28th June 2018.

Over the years many sparks have said to me: “No, surely not more changes? They do it to annoy us and to put the price of our jobs up.” I can understand why some have this attitude, yet when I’m on my travels giving talks on the changes, the first slide I always show says: “Don’t shoot the messenger”.

NICEIC is not responsible for making the changes, we simply ensure that all contractors are aware of them.

History lessons
The biggest change to the regulations was in 1981 when the 15th Edition came in. Not only did the book contain a load of new regulations, it also doubled in size (quite literally) by going from A5 to A4. It would be safe to assume that these changes would last a long time, but unfortunately not!

In 1983 Amendment 1 was introduced, with a further four amendments just two years later. There were a total of six reprints of the 16th Edition and three reprints of the 17th Edition – that makes 15 reprints in just 36 years!

It’s not going to stop either, as my spies tell me that they’re already working on amendment number 1 of the 18th Edition. The main reason for this is because our industry is evolving so quickly, with the regulations (somehow) having to keep up with all changes and any new products that come onto the market.

“It’s not going to stop either, as my spies tell me that they’re already working on amendment number 1 of the 18th Edition.”

I can rememberwell when the 17th Edition came out and this required RCDs to be fitted on many more circuits. One spark came up to me saying he was leaving the industry as it would make all his jobs so much more expensive as a result.

RCDs were expensive at the time but they’re now a quarter of the price they were. The cost of RCBOs is also much cheaper now and many makes are now the same size as a MCB. It just goes to show how changes that seem extreme at the time can soon become the norm.

Consumer unit concerns
Amendment 3 of the 17th Edition saw the introduction of metal consumer units in domestic premises and the screams and shouts that went on beforehand were unbelievable. Now, some 18 months later, metal consumer units are the same price as the plastic ones were, and some manufacturers have stopped producing the plastic ones altogether.

I expect to hear similar moans when the 18th Edition comes in but, as with all elements of change, they gradually get accepted and life goes on waiting for the next one to come along.

For the first time in 60 years the changes to the regulations won’t affect me as I’ll be retired. In some ways I’ll be sad about this as I’ve always looked forward to the latest changes – mainly because, for the last 36 years, I’ve been earning my living from researching them and putting together lesson plans, lectures and seminars to pass on my knowledge to help you all out there.

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