What a year 2020 was, no one was ready for the unprecedented times that we encountered. However, our commitment to raising electrical standards and promoting technical excellence did not stop, and the Electrical Safety Roundtable (ESR) continued to consider various ways to improve electrical safety in the home, in the workplace and in the social housing sector throughout the year.
Electrical Safety in the Home
We managed to hold a physical meeting in March 2020, just before the first national lockdown and we held our first virtual meeting at the end of September. It was great to catch up with everyone and hear from British Marine about their concerns around the electrical safety of house boats, especially those which are privately rented and come under the new Electrical Safety Standards for the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations. We had a full agenda, and as a group we adopted three clear policy positions to focus our campaigns into 2021 and beyond:
– Mandatory electrical safety checks, in the form of an Electrical Installation Condition Report, should be carried out at least every 5 years and at change of tenancy/mutual exchange in the Social Rented Sector.
– Remove route 3.10 within Approved Document P as a way of demonstrating compliance with Part P of the Building Regulations to stop ambiguity within the industry and to enhance consumer protection by validating the competence of the electrical installer doing work prior to the work being completed.
– Mandatory Electrical Safety Checks, at least every 5 years in the form of an Electrical Installation Condition Report, should be required for all properties within multi-occupied buildings regardless of tenure to ensure parity of safety.
Chairman of the ESR in the Home, Chris Bielby MBE, said: “I look forward to continuing to chair this group in 2021 and to considering the draft Building Safety Bill and contributing to discussions on how best to define and demonstrate the competence of those who work in Higher Risk Buildings.”
Social Housing Sub-Group
The sub-group virtually met at the end of September 2020 and a warm welcome was given to the new chair, Martin Simmonds, Senior Services Officer (Electrical) at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. The group considered the consultation from Electrical Safety First entitled: ‘Supporting the Social Rented Sector in Ensuring Electrical Safety for Tenants’.
The sub-group’s work is on-going, and a final push is being made to finalise the ‘Code of Practice for the Management of Electrical Systems within Higher Risk Buildings’ which will be published this year.
The sub-group had a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the ESR just before the Christmas break Martin Simmonds was joined by a number of participants of the group, to sit on a panel at Aico’s Virtual Smarter Homes Conference which explored the impact of Covid-19, the Grenfell tragedy, the use of smart technologies and mandatory electrical safety checks in the social housing sector. To watch this session, please click here.
New Chairman of the Social Housing Sub-Group, Martin Simmonds commented: “It was a pleasure to step up as the Chair of the ESR Social Housing Sub-group, I’ve certainly got big shoes to fill. I have spent many years working in the social housing sector, and it’s great to be now leading a group of likeminded people who all have the same ethos and are striving for higher electrical safety standards within the sector. I chaired my first meeting back in September 2020 and I was delighted with the positive engagement and passion from all the attendees.”
Following the publication of ‘The charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper’, within which the Government has committed to “consult on measures to ensure that social housing residents are protected from harm caused by poor electrical safety”, we will be watching out for this consultation and formulating a response.
Electrical Safety in the Workplace
The ESR in the Workplace responded to the evident need to raise awareness of safe isolation within the workplace. The group worked with Louise Taggart, an influential health and safety campaigner, to create the award winning ‘12 Easy Steps to Safe Isolation’ infographic, which you can download here.
Professional Electrician & Installer 2020 ‘Top Product’ Award Winner
To our delight, in December 2020 the Safe Isolation Infographic was crowned a Professional Electrician & Installer 2020 ‘Top Product’ award winner! The awards provide recognition for companies that have made a real difference to the electrical professional’s ability to get the job done efficiently, safely, and professionally. Professional Electrician Editor, Richard Bowler said: “Our annual awards are a great way to reward those companies that have come up with excellent ideas to help electrical installers and businesses overcome common problems in their everyday work, or to open up new profit streams. ESR’s Safe Isolation Infographic is therefore a worthy winner of one of our 2020 Top Product awards.”
After the success of the Safe Isolation infographic we hope our next focus is just as valuable as the last. We started this year with a focus on Electrical Inspection and Testing in the Workplace. There are many concerns within the industry about this subject, and our work in this area has the potential to create a significant positive industry outcome.
Paul Meenan, Chairman of the Workplace Group said: “I am sure you will all agree that in recent times we have been faced with much uncertainty, nevertheless electrical work is on-going, and therefore electrical safety is still a high priority. I was extremely pleased that we were still able to release the 12 Steps to Safe Isolation infographic in such a turbulent year, and I was delighted with the positive feedback and recognition that it received throughout the industry.”
Head to the Electrical Safety Roundtable website for further information and updates.