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  1. #1
    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    BBC News Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs
    Electrician

    Tougher rules are needed to ensure electricians have enough training to work on people's homes without putting them in danger, MPs have warned.

    Rules in England state that people deemed "competent" by industry bodies can sign off work as safe and legal.

    But the Communities and Local Government Committee said some had only a few weeks' training and called enforcement of rules "at best patchy".

    The government said it would consider the findings "carefully".

    In 2005, the Labour government brought most electrical work in the home under the system of building regulations, designed to ensure safety standards.
    'Five-week wonder'

    It was decided that only those deemed "competent persons" by a range of government-approved competent persons schemes should be able to hand customers certificates to show work was of good quality and legal.

    The committee said safety overall had risen since 2005, but it raised concerns about the standards in place, saying some of those judged to be a "competent person" were signing off more than 3,400 competency notifications a year.
    Continue reading the main story
    “Start Quote

    Somebody whose only electrical qualification is that they have attended a five-week training course simply should not be re-wiring houses”

    Clive Betts MP

    This led to questions over how much scrutiny of the work was going on.

    In some cases, the MPs were told, people stood "as much chance of getting a competent person as asking a bloke down the pub to do the job".

    The committee received evidence that some workers had done no more than take a "two-hour open book exam" before carrying out domestic electrical work, while others had taken internet-advertised "five-week wonder" courses.

    Added to this, only 14% of the population were even aware of the system, fewer than a third of the number who knew about a similar scheme for gas fitters.

    The committee recommended that, within five years, no-one should be allowed to carry out the electrical work covered by building regulations without an NVQ Level III or equivalent qualification and "a significant period of supervised on-the-job training".

    A limit should be set on the number of cases each "competent person" could be responsible for approving, it added.
    Resources call

    Committee chairman Labour MP Clive Betts said: "Somebody whose only electrical qualification is that they have attended a five-week training course simply should not be re-wiring houses. Yet this is what we were told is happening.

    "The person in the home wants to know that the person arriving on the doorstep is a qualified electrician.

    "The current system does not guarantee this. Rather, it can brand the incompetent as competent."

    Mr Betts called for councils to be given the resources to enforce the regulations.

    Communities minister Stephen Williams said: "I'm pleased that the committee recognises the improvements since the building regulations covering electrical safety were introduced but there is always more work to be done to strike the right balance and we will consider the report's recommendations carefully, especially as part of our review of the impact of changes we've made to reduce unnecessary red tape in this area."
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    Funny I was just referring to the dumbing down of trades just the other day in the "What Job do you do ?" thread. This may be a step in the right direction for the electrical trade as IMHO it is as potentially dangerous as gas and should be treated as such.

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    DF PwNagE Geko's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Now... I know you are a sparky... But... Does it really need more bureaucracy?

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    DF Probation macmilm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Father in law nearly died last year due to incompetent electrical work.... live wire was left exposed and he brushed against it whilst decorating.
    He is currently in the process of getting his compo ;-)

    Maybe a one off or maybe an example that the above is a good move !!

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    DF PlaYa Mr 250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    I know these 5 week courses are frowned upon by some. I done 3 years at college to become an electrician but to be fair I reckon I could of squeezed the entire course in to 5 weeks.
    If the NVQ III is going to be standard then it needs an overhaul. It gets abused a lot i.e people signing off their own work with forged manager signatures or supervisors signing peoples work before it's even been done etc.

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    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by Geko View Post
    Now... I know you are a sparky... But... Does it really need more bureaucracy?
    No what it needs is the industry recognized JIB/SJIB qualifications to be an imposed minimum rather than "competent persons". At the moment you have 3 "main" self certified schemes that for a fee you can become a member....NAPIT, NICEIC, SELECT now none of these schemes actually provide anything useful as all you need to do is get the cash together - show them 1 job hand picked by you that you have completed and hey presto you are in business with nice letterheads ect. Part P is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard too.
    What most "real" sparks want to see is all of the Napit NICEIC SELECT bodies disbanded as they are not fit for purpose. Replace them with the JIB/SJIB and let them set the already high standards that they already enforce (If you want a grade card from these guys you need to be able to prove competency with at least 3 years training and various tests in place to prove your grade. ). The structure is already there. There are a ton of ways that an inexperienced spark or competent person lol can hurt/kill you and your family. The worst thing about electricity is it can bite you 1 year down the line due to poor workmanship. Just 1 loose cable poorly terminated can and has burned down whole houses/buildings. Who is responsible for it ? The competent person ? The spark who has went on a 5 week course because he saw an ad that says we get 50k per year ? How do you the consumer know at the moment if the spark you are dealing with in your home is a 5 week wonder or a guy who has served a proper apprenticeship and has at least proved his competency ? Simple answer is you really don't.....At the moment your best bet is to ask to see their JIB approved skill card....if they cant produce it then I would be at the very least very wary indeed.
    Just as an aside I have been in the game for 20+ years and in that time I personally have been to inspect 3 fires where death has occurred due to bad/poor workmanship....I am just 1 spark...that stat alone should wake people up. Oh yeah and I also want to keep my cash flow going lol (Jokingly serious tbh)
    But to summarize scrap all of the current shit and replace it with 1 body that can and does test/inspect and ensure the competancy and safety of the electrical systems in this country just like in gas game...ie Gas Safe.

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    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr 250 View Post
    I know these 5 week courses are frowned upon by some. I done 3 years at college to become an electrician but to be fair I reckon I could of squeezed the entire course in to 5 weeks.
    If the NVQ III is going to be standard then it needs an overhaul. It gets abused a lot i.e people signing off their own work with forged manager signatures or supervisors signing peoples work before it's even been done etc.
    You could squeeze the college course into 5 weeks...lol i suppose in theory but would you actually "learn" what you are being taught or are we talking about just an exam passing contest. The real deal is being assessed on site/off site over a period of time in the multi disciplines as well as AM2 (trade test think its scrapped now but needs replacing)....then afterwords 2 full years of "learner plates" where you get to do jobs but they are tested by approved sparks and count towards your NVQIII.....this should not be a spark on the same firm as the trainee to weed out the crap and dogey companies.

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    DF PiMP spraky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    A few months ago I was in a job and was just glancing at a small 3 phase motor, which was connected using a 4 pin 32A plug/socket arrangement (extension lead style) to a 3 phase VSD.
    I was just walking away, when I had a eureka moment and unplugged the motor.
    I kid you not, the plug top was connected to the VSD, and the socket was on the motor. The guys told me, it was like that for years.

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    DF PlaYa Mr 250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidF View Post
    You could squeeze the college course into 5 weeks...lol i suppose in theory but would you actually "learn" what you are being taught or are we talking about just an exam passing contest. The real deal is being assessed on site/off site over a period of time in the multi disciplines as well as AM2 (trade test think its scrapped now but needs replacing)....then afterwords 2 full years of "learner plates" where you get to do jobs but they are tested by approved sparks and count towards your NVQIII.....this should not be a spark on the same firm as the trainee to weed out the crap and dogey companies.
    To be honest I didn't learn a great deal in college, I found most of it to be a load of crap you never use on the job and was just put in the course to fill the time up/justify the cost.
    The 2360 gave me a lead and understanding of the industry nothing more. This could of been taught in 5 weeks imo.
    I didn't actually start to learn competence until I got my first job on site.

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    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr 250 View Post
    To be honest I didn't learn a great deal in college, I found most of it to be a load of crap you never use on the job and was just put in the course to fill the time up/justify the cost.
    The 2360 gave me a lead and understanding of the industry nothing more. This could of been taught in 5 weeks imo.
    I didn't actually start to learn competence until I got my first job on site.
    The college stuff gives you a grounding in the theory of what you are trying to achieve on site. Cable size selection. The effect of volts drop. The health and safety aspect. You would have also done practical installation work at college too if you had got an apprenticeship....don't know what the normal college course teaches you though tbh. I am not knocking you mate....3 years at college gives you a sound footing...weather you liked/enjoyed it or not.
    As said on site under the tutelage of an experienced electrician IS where your learn the ropes....5 weeks at college and most good sparks wont even acknowledge you as a tradesman nor as a useful mate....You would be the equivalent of a 16yo 1st year apprentice after a 5 week college course.....good for sweeping the floor and carrying the tools ....maybe graduating to eating fiberglass in some attic lol.
    The college part is there for a reason...it is certainly not just for the fun of it. You are an electrician so you in theory should be able to diversify yourself into the industrial environment and able to plan jobs that require you to make calculations that you learned at college. Also how to wire motors and automation stuff.....fire alarms ect ect ect. Then there is the HV stuff too. College gives you a grounding for all of that. Some may just go on and do house bashing after college....and that's fine but at least the industry and the customer can be safe in the knowledge that you have a good grasp on what you are doing and have a sound knowledge and will leave a safe and tidy job behind when you leave.

  10. #10
    DF PlaYa Mr 250's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidF View Post
    The college stuff gives you a grounding in the theory of what you are trying to achieve on site. Cable size selection. The effect of volts drop. The health and safety aspect. You would have also done practical installation work at college too if you had got an apprenticeship....don't know what the normal college course teaches you though tbh. I am not knocking you mate....3 years at college gives you a sound footing...weather you liked/enjoyed it or not.
    As said on site under the tutelage of an experienced electrician IS where your learn the ropes....5 weeks at college and most good sparks wont even acknowledge you as a tradesman nor as a useful mate....You would be the equivalent of a 16yo 1st year apprentice after a 5 week college course.....good for sweeping the floor and carrying the tools ....maybe graduating to eating fiberglass in some attic lol.
    The college part is there for a reason...it is certainly not just for the fun of it. You are an electrician so you in theory should be able to diversify yourself into the industrial environment and able to plan jobs that require you to make calculations that you learned at college. Also how to wire motors and automation stuff.....fire alarms ect ect ect. Then there is the HV stuff too. College gives you a grounding for all of that. Some may just go on and do house bashing after college....and that's fine but at least the industry and the customer can be safe in the knowledge that you have a good grasp on what you are doing and have a sound knowledge and will leave a safe and tidy job behind when you leave.
    Yeah we done all the practical stuff too. Reading your post brings a lot back about college and I obviously did learn a lot more than I can remember. That doesn't sound too good lol

  11. #11
    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    @Geko
    I think this shows my thoughts on tougher regulation for people working with electricity to be accurate mate -

    Young mother electrocuted in her flat 'because electrician who tested her leaking boiler was UNQUALIFIED'

    Emma Shaw, 22, fatally hit by 230 volts as she tried to stop boiler leaking
    House had been 'checked', documents approved by qualified supervisor
    Christopher Tomkins, who inspected flat, told police he was 'electrician's mate'
    He and supervisor Neil Hoult plead not guilty to breaching Health & Safety

    By Mia De Graaf

    PUBLISHED: 21:02, 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 01:24, 20 March 2014

    12 shares

    Tragic: Emma Shaw, 22, was trying to stop her boiler from leaking when she was hit by 230 volts and died
    +3

    Tragic: Emma Shaw, 22, was trying to stop her boiler from leaking when she was hit by 230 volts and died

    A young mother was fatally electrocuted by 230 volts as she mopped up water from a leaking boiler in her flat because an electrician who tested it was unqualified.

    Emma Shaw, 22, suffered the shock in her store cupboard as her one-year-old son Brayden played in the living room nearby - just months after the mains were inspected.

    She was trying to turn off her stopcock to stop the boiler leaking but was hit by volts and lost consciousness almost immediately.

    Her lifeless body was discovered by her boyfriend Andrew Cross when he returned to their flat in West Bromwich at midday on December 14, 2007.

    Today, a court heard documents certifying the property as safe were filled out by an unqualified electrician - who cannot remember carrying out the tests.

    Christopher Tomkins, 52, drew up and signed papers on March 8, 2006, which said he had carried out tests at the flat, exercised reasonable care, and the circuits were safe.

    His work was approved by qualified supervisor Neil Hoult at Anchor Electrical and Building Services, which managed the block.

    However, in a police interview, Mr Tomkins described himself as 'a mate of an electrician' and 'was not qualified as an inspector', Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

    Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, told a jury: 'The purpose of the certificate was to certify that the electrical installations were safe.

    'In fact they were far from safe and expert investigations since Emma Shaw’s death have revealed that a cable in circuit three had been penetrated by a screw during the construction phase and that caused a metal frame to become live and charged to 230 volts.

    'That occurred prior to the testing and inspection carried out by Christopher Tomkins.
    Her 23-month-old son Brayden had been playing on the floor near her when she was hit
    +3

    Her 23-month-old son Brayden had been playing on the floor near her when she was hit

    'If Christopher Tomkins had tested circuit three properly or at all as he purported to have done and Neil Hoult signed he had then the fault that was present would have been detected immediately and the problem investigated and remedied.

    '(In police interviews) he stated he was an electrician’s mate who was used to working in a pair and he was at Jefferson Place to assist with the secondary fittings.

    'He said he was not qualified to act as a test inspector, he admitted the writing and signature was his but said he didn’t remember carrying out any electrical insulation tests.'
    It came just months after documents were signed to prove the property's mains ha been checked
    +3

    It came just months after documents were signed to prove the property's mains ha been checked

    The court heard that during the construction a screw used to attach plasterboard to the metal frame in the wall in the store cupboard penetrated a cable causing it to become live.

    As a result of the blunder, when Miss Shaw’s boiler leaked, the puddle of water in her store cupboard crept under the skirting board and touched the frame - meaning it was also live.

    When Miss Shaw knelt in the puddle as she prepared to mop the floor she too became electrically charged and when she touched the earthed stopcock she suffered a huge shock.

    Tomkins and Hoult, who are both from Rowley Regis, West Midlands, both deny one charge of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to the work they carried out in March 2006.

    The trial, which is expected to last eight days, continues.
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    What we need is proper monitoring of the existing regs, unfortunately that won't stop DIYers fiddling around and leaving dangerous appliances and wiring. . .
    If at first you don't succeed.....redefine success. . . .

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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Yep but who is going to pay for the checks, average Joe gets bummed dry by tradesmen as it is, the tradesmen won't foot the bill will just be rolled onto the customer, there needs to be some common sense applied or before you know it you'll have to get someone to check the fuse you've changed in a plug.

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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    There will always be DIY'ers. At school we were taught how to wire a plug in science - my old man taught me well before that also. I personally would not pay an electrician £40 to do something that simple.

    However, I would still use somebody qualified for a bigger job. Yes there should be more rigorous checks, but surely that is also the responsibility of the person asking them to do the work. A national register or something similar perhaps. most people have access to the net, or know somebody that does.




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    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    A national register
    Which is exactly what the responsible sparks are pushing hard for. Just like the gas engineers have. BTW I have no problem with small DIY jobs. But there has to be a line drawn and safety has to be a factor. The current regulations as stated are fine. The problem is the idiots in the trade that call themselves sparks who would not know a regulation if it slapped them in the face.

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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    A fellow DF'er (strife) is getting his house rewired at the moment by the council. He's just finished redecorating the entire place only to have some 2 bit electricians employed by the council show up and lob 2" conduit on every wall and ceiling.

    Needless to say, he's not very impressed, especially after just being given the option to buy it! Even after offering to pay for the 'extra work'. The 'electricians' won't entertain it as they are 'too busy'.

    I'm in the wrong line of work!


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    DF Jedi BigBird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    a few years ago I saw a council electrician tell my mother in law that the reason for her kitchen bulb blowing every few weeks was down to her using 230v bulbs instead of 240v ones. He didnt have the sense to realise it was the unvented glass shade which was rated for a max of 60 watt bulb that was the problem. Bulb would blow and take the shade with it although it could have been the other way around. He then went on to replace the glass shade with an identical spare she had bought ready, and then he fitted another 100 watt bulb. There was a small label on the glass shade that states 60 watt max which he totally ignored.

    Also seen electricians baffled as to why a fuse didn't blow when the immersion heater in the airing cupboard caused a fire. I noticed arcing on the immersion heater terminals. It was heat caused by a long circuit as opposed to a short circuit which was obviously not going to blow the fuse. The circuit would have been drawing less current not more but the heat was being generated at the resistance on the terminal instead of the element itself. Even when I explained it to them they couldn't see it.

    Some electricians are unfortunately 'monkey see monkey do' type people. As for understanding how electricity works they haven't a clue. (">

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    DF Jedi DavidF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Some electricians are unfortunately 'monkey see monkey do' type people. As for understanding how electricity works they haven't a clue. (">
    And some are even worse than that lol. Council sparks tend to be......well you can't tar them all with the same brush ect...but crap springs to mind. That is why we want a minimum qualification before anyone can become an electrician. At the moment your milkman can go on a 5 week course pass a few tests and then advertise legally as an electrician. They can rewire your house without ANY prior on site experience and can also supply you with test certs (Usually never carried out) so you the customer are none the wiser. They can legally do this by joining 1 of 8 schemes that are open to them to join. The schemes for a fee sign off (without checks) all certs which complies with part P.
    All the schemes need scrapping. A minimum standard and retest every 5 years and 1 scheme to oversee the whole thing.
    There is one thing at the moment which at least shows some level of competence the J.I.B. (S.J.I.B. for scotland) grade card. This shows the operative has done AT LEAST 3 years (usually more) training. If the Grade card says approved electrician instead of just electrician then it indicates 5+ years experience with trade tests (practical) and extensive written tests C+G ect ect. Sadly the only people who know the value of these cards are in the trade and the employers. You need these to work on most industrial jobs. Seems nobody cares about the poor old home owner ....
    But yeah council sparks are usually bottom of the rung lol....Not ALL but most.

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    DF PwNagE Geko's Avatar
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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    I think changing a plug should have to be done by an electrician too. And changing a fuse.

    Make it a standard fee. Say..... £100.

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    Default Re: Toughen up on 'incompetent' electricians, say MPs

    Quote Originally Posted by Geko View Post
    I think changing a plug should have to be done by an electrician too. And changing a fuse.

    Make it a standard fee. Say..... £100.
    Sigh.....I think if you are incapable of changing a plug then you actually deserve to pay £100. In all seriousness I have no problem with the small jobs but lets just say anything that requires that you interfere with internal wiring should be off limits really. But hey fair do's let everyone rewire their whole house as we just charge double to fix DIY disasters lol.

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