NAPIT Chief Technical Officer Frank Bertie (JPEL/64 Member) explains how the JPEL/64 Technical Committee operates within BS 7671 to drive up standards in the electrical industry.
The electrical industry in the UK has at it roots BS 7671 (currently the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations).
Given the crucial importance of BS 7671 to all in the electrical installation industry, we felt that readers would appreciate an article explaining in some detail the procedure involved in producing the finished document.
The UK National Committee, JPEL/64
The joint IET/BSI Technical Committee (the UK’s National Committee) is called JPEL/64 and it is comprised of organisations that are stakeholders within the UK electrical industry. The list of participants can be found on Pages 9 and 10 of BS 7671. JPEL/64 has four sub-committees which assist in the review, comment and updating of BS 7671:
JPEL/64/B Thermal Effects
JPEL/64/C Shock Protection
JPEL/64/D External Influences
Developing electrical regulations
The process of developing electrical regulations involves two international organisations who work closely together – the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENLEC).
The electrotechnical committee of the IEC is known as IEC/TC 64 and its members are drawn from the national committees of countries throughout the world. There are 86 members of the IEC of which 62 are full members and 24 are associate members.
How are IEC Standards created?
For all new standards, a proposal is first raised at the IEC for discussion and agreement to proceed with the development of the new standard. The majority of the work involved for our industry is the maintenance and reviewing of the current standards within the IEC 60364 series of documents.
The stages in the development of technical standards are as follows:
New Work Item Proposal (NP) can be a:
New part of an existing standard
A Working Draft (WD) is created within a project team involved in developing the NP, normally within a six-month period. This is then circulated to the relevant technical sub or full committee responsible for the area that the NP covers in the form of a first committee draft (CD).
The CD is then circulated to the National Committees for consideration and to achieve a consensus for further development of the standard.
Before any new or revised standard can pass to the approval stage, the Committee Draft for Vote (CDV) is submitted to all National Committees for a 12-week voting period. The CDV can only be considered as approved if two thirds of the National Committees are in favour and if the number of negative votes does not exceed a quarter of the total. A Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) is then circulated to National Committees for a six-week voting period.
Each committee must vote:
Positive (no comments permitted)
The FDIS is approved if two thirds of the National Committees are in favour and if the number of negative votes does not exceed a quarter of the vote. Publication of the approved standard is normally within two weeks of the FDIS approval.
Following agreement at IEC level, CENELEC may publish either one of two standards – Harmonisation Documents (HDs) and European Norms (ENs). ENs are published by BSI as BS ENs.
Harmonisation documents (HDs)
When an HD is published, member countries are obligated to implement the standard, at least by public announcement of the HD number and title and by withdrawal of any conflicting national standards. A member country is then free to maintain or issue a national standard dealing with the subject of the HD – provided that it does not conflict.
The number, title and date of each such national standard must be notified to the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre.
Maintenance teams for IEC and CENELEC Standards
Within the technical committees of IEC and CENELEC there are teams tasked with maintaining, reviewing and updating the standards under their control.
The content of BS 7671
JPEL/64 reviews the current versions of IEC/CENELEC standards and converts the electrical safety content into UK regulations, BS 7671. These documents are part of the HD 60364 series for electrical installations for buildings and represent an attempt to harmonise national wiring standards within Europe. A list of these standards can be seen on Pages 11 and 12 of BS 7671:2018.
How change takes place
The timeline for work within JPEL/64 when new proposals are submitted to the committee to provide comments and vote on is:
Working Draft (WD)
Committee Draft (CD)
Committee Draft for Vote (CDV)
Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)
The trigger point for considering a new edition of BS 7671 is the status of any of the documents. Unless it is a critical electrical safety issue, only standards at the FDIS stage are considered for the review of our Wiring Regulations.
The main difference between BS 7671 and IEC/ CENELEC Standards is that in the UK we contain all of the HDs in one publication. For the UK this creates an:
Advantage – as we can publish one standard
Disadvantage – we are subject to piecemeal changes in multiple standards
The information is collated into Draft for Public Comment (DPC) for BS 7671 which is then released for the electrical industry to provide comments. This is a chance for the industry to submit comments during the allotted period using the BSI website.
The content of NAPIT EXPOs and webinars is subject to these changes. JPEL/64 reviews all the comments for consideration, inclusion or rejection. This then leads to the publication of final copy for release as the latest edition of BS 7671.
The work involved in the creation and review of standards within the electrical industry is neither a quick nor simple process. Technical meetings are held over several years to allow the documents to reach a mature stage.
NAPIT is pleased to be actively involved in the production of safer electrical standards.