The campaign to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland reached the Scottish Parliament today with a debate in the main chamber following a motion put forward by Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP.
The campaign to 'Regulate Electricians as a Profession' is led by electrical trade association SELECT and is supported by Unions and other industry bodies.
Today's debate is an important milestone in the campaign process bringing the need to improve electrical safety in homes and business properties to MSP's, parliament and the wider public.
Further information on the campaign:-
- Electricians as a Profession - The Case for Regulation
- Scottish Public Expresses shock and disbelief as SELECT reveals dangers of rogue electricians
- Article 1
- Article 2
- Article 3
- Article 4
The debate can be viewed here thanks to Scottish Parliament TV.
My new podcast is now available where I will discuss business, fitness and family.
Hopefully I will provide some words of wisdom along the way.
The podcast is available to listen and subscribe to on a host of popular platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Full details are on my new podcast page.
The response has been fantastic to our Stirling Electrical Services Apprenticeship Trials which opened for applications just last week.
We have an application form live on our website for suitable candidates to submit, so if you know anyone looking to have the chance to start their journey to becoming a qualified electrician please forward these details onto them.
The application form can be found at this link.
It is Scottish Apprenticeship week and at Stirling Electrical Services we are pleased to offer our support and commitment to employing and training apprentices.
Every one of our existing skilled team members are either currently an electrical apprentice or our qualified electricians including myself have all progressed to full electrician status via the recognised electrical apprenticeship scheme in Scotland organised by SECTT.
The value of apprenticeships should never be underestimated and in my opinion apprenticeships should be more widely encouraged within secondary education.
Each one of our electrical apprentices have to train for at least 4 years combining college theory and practical learning work as well as gaining on-site experience working alongside our qualified electricians.
I fully support the drive this week to increase awareness highlighting the important role that apprentices can play within businesses and the long term benefits they can bring.
Right from the very beginning of Stirling Electrical Services in 1996 I have always been keen to employ apprentices within the business.
So during this important Scottish Apprenticeship Week I am pleased that we have made a double Apprentice commitment.
Firstly we have this week employed a 3rd year electrical apprentice who unfortunately was made redundant at his previous company in late 2017.
Qualifying as an electrician after 4 years of apprentice training can set people on the road to a rewarding career and with 3 years apprenticeship training under his belt it was important to take this apprentice under our wing and help him train and study over the coming months to allow him to prepare for his final electrical exam.
Secondly we are also committing to employing a new 1st year electrical apprentice during the Autumn college intake with a commitment to employ them for the duration of their 4 year apprenticeship training. We will announce more details around May this year regarding how people can apply.
Apprenticeships are crucial for the electrical industry, fast track electrical training courses are a waste of space and I would argue even dangerous for the electrical industry.
For those that are considering an apprenticeship especially in the skilled trades then don't let anyone including school careers advice put you off from becoming an apprentice. If you turn up with an attitude to put in the hard work and commit to learning your trade then an apprenticeship can be a worthwhile long-term career move.
This past week has seen an upsurge in calls for tighter regulations over electrical white goods after a recent study suggested faulty appliances could "cause 60 fires a week".
The issue has even been on the agenda of our local Stirling MP Stephen Kerr who, in his latest Stirling Observer newspaper column(see below), said he has been involved in looking into this matter at UK Government level.
MP Kerr's involvement and the awareness within the news media recently should be welcomed as the lessons learned after the terrible tragedy at Grenfell must be acted upon quickly.
I have been involved in the electrical industry for 25 years and while tighter regulations may indeed have to be introduced into the manufacture and warranty procedure of white goods, the lack of regulation is more widespread than just white goods - the whole electrical installation industry needs to be more tightly controlled and regulated.
You may be surprised to find that there is currently no legislation in place to prevent an individual with no electrical skills or qualifications whatsoever from placing an advert in the local newspaper advertising as an electrician, willing to undertake electrical work in homes and business premises.
The law (in Scotland) currently allows anyone to carry out most electrical work, with no mandatory formal checks to confirm that the individual has been trained and is qualified to the latest regulations.
A recent survey found that up to 2000 unqualified electrical businesses are potentially putting the safety of the Scottish public at risk - that figure is staggering and could be quite literally 'shocking'.
View the video and visit the link to read and watch the disbelief as members of the Scottish public who thought electricians were currently regulated were told that no such thing is in place.
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There are a few non-mandatory trade organisations databases including a building standards database in Scotland available for consumers to check if electricians are registered - these databases list the electrical individuals and companies who have up to date qualifications and are already committed to upholding the safety and carrying out work in accordance with the latest electrical regulations. More info for the public at SELECT website as well as at the Electrical Safety Council.
There is some hope though as Scotland's largest electrical trade organisation SELECT are determined to address the issue and improve public safety and have started a movement to regulate the electrical industry in Scotland. By making the job of an electrician a 'Profession' it would become an offence to carry out electrical work in Scotland when not qualified to do so. Did you know that a door steward in a night club has more legal and mandatory checks carried out on them than an electrician?
To give some context to the idea of regulation that affects the electrical industry, in December 2015 it became mandatory in Scotland for Private Rented Landlords to have electrical wiring testing carried out every 5 years and a short time before that date new fire safety regulations were introduced increasing the number of smoke/heat detectors installed within properties rented to private occupiers.
For the past few years at Stirling Electrical Services and at other qualified electricians in the Stirling area, we have been into many hundreds of private rented properties and because of the mandatory testing, landlords (including myself) have been 'forced' to increase the safety of the electrical installations with many life saving devices such as smoke alarms and RCD switches being introduced.
I say 'forced' because unless the mandatory testing regulation was in place then a large percentage of the rented properties would still have life-risking and fire-causing electrical problems present.
Having mandatory regulation works - the vast majority will adhere to it meaning safety to all will increase - and those that don't adhere to the rules should be punished.
Over the past year or so SELECT have been in discussion with the Scottish Government and as part of their campaign have submitted a report and evidence to support the idea of regulating Electricians.
An idea that would bring electricians and electrical work in line with gas engineers and gas work where tighter regulations already apply.
Listen below to a 2017 BBC Interview with SELECT MD Newell McGuinness about the campaign.
I have said for many years that to get a light or socket to work is relatively easy with a little knowledge, but to make sure the work involved (and the end result) is SAFE to YOU and YOUR PROPERTY is an entirely different scenario - and that is why only qualified electricians with up to date training and qualifications should be allowed to carry out electrical work in homes and businesses throughout Scotland.
If they do not have up to date electrical qualifications then it is time to stop - the kitchen fitter, plumber, joiner, man at the pub and even electricians who were qualified many many years ago but have no up to date training from carrying out most electrical work. For safety reasons electrical regulations change and are updated every few years and without up to date training and qualifications you cannot carry out electrical work to the current safety standards.
A regulated industry would also raise the standard of those electricians currently qualified as it would mean we would always be kept on our toes knowing we had to maintain our standards to remain on the mandatory register of electricians.
It is time for the electrical industry to be regulated as an equal to gas and while the current movement to increasing the safety of white goods should be welcomed I would like to make our local politicians aware of our current electrical industry situation.
As SELECT continue to have discussions with Scottish Government officials it would be reassuring to know that our own MSP Bruce Crawford is aware of the situation and I would also hope our Stirling MP Stephen Kerr would offer his support where he can - they, you and I all have homes and work in or visit business premises and it would be good to know that the person you ask to come into your property to carry out electrical work involving 230 and 400 dangerous volts of electricity is qualified and competent to do so - and that they have been audited by an official register before they come into your property.
It's time we stopped taking chances with electricity - the mandatory regulations in rented properties brought in so far have made a big difference so it's about time we went all the way and made sure the people carrying out all electrical work are trained and qualified to do so - surely life and fire safety are not worth taking a 'chance' on.
What are your thoughts on the plans to regulate the electrical industry - did you just presume the person who you let into your property to carry out electrical work was qualified, did you carry out competency checks on them beforehand ? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow the campaigns latest news - https://twitter.com/regulate_SELECT
The images below are all real examples of dangerous electrical work or faults we have encountered in recent months.
Scottish Apprenticeship Week is a time when we can share our apprenticeship success stories, shout out loudly the message that apprenticeships especially within trades is a good lifelong career move and where companies can commit to employ and train the next generation.
In the lead up to, as well as the week itself I will give more details about how a trade apprenticeship has been beneficial to myself as well as to our electricians who have all been through 4+ years of training before qualifying.
More details at www.apprenticeships.scot
2018 is already shaping up to be a busy year for us and we are looking to expand our team with a number of job vacancies available ranging from Electrician, Security Engineer and Pat Tester.
If you know anyone who can match these skills or who currently work at other local companies but may want a new direction and challenge then please pass on our details.
More information at: http://www.stirlingelectrical.co.uk/recruitment
I was delighted to welcome Stirling Council leader Scott Farmer to our Fallin office on Friday afternoon.
We had good talk about local business as well as a tour of our premises.
Nobody can ever say they are the perfect electrician - not me, not any member of my electrical team and not any other qualified electrician with up to date training - we all recognise that fact but we continue to work hard and spend money on training, learning and studying our craft and applying to the best of our ability our knowledge in interpreting BS7671 electrical and other relevant regulations into our everyday jobs.
Unfortunately as it currently stands anyone can call themselves an electrician and carry out electrical work in homes and businesses and the situation is of such concern that Scotland's trade association SELECT are now in discussion with the Scottish Government about regulating the electrical industry in law and making the term Electrician a profession (similar to Gas) which in turn would make it illegal for anyone to carry out electrical work if they are not registered, have no qualifications or have no up to date training.
To give context to the above movement I myself have been on the receiving end lately of being involved with people who carry out electrical work who have not been trained in recent years to the current regulations.
A number of weeks ago I was a approached by someone in my area who argued with me that they were correct in proposing to install battery powered smoke detectors in a private rented property, after I on the the spot showed them the regulations on my phone they still were not convinced "as that was not the rules 15 years ago and it was fine then" but I eventually found out they had listened to me and correctly installed mains powered interlinked smoke detectors.
Unfortunately that was not the end of my encounter and a few weeks later after my company carried out an Electrical Installation Condition Report at a private rented property I was publicly accused by this same person who has admitted having no up to date electrical training, of failing the electrical report for no other reason than failing the report to money grab the remedial work cost. The electrical installation failed on items such as but not limited to - exposed open live electrical connections, a number of circuits/cables protected by oversized circuit breakers, wrong polarity at switch, cables touching sharp metal edges with no grommet(rubber) protection - the accuser incidentally admitted carrying out some of the work we had failed and thought the above 'Danger Present' and 'Potentially Dangerous' items should not have been listed.
As you can probably gather I am rather annoyed at my own and my company's integrity being publicly questioned by someone who really should know better but for what ever reason will not update their qualifications or training to todays regulations.
I am proud of my own and my companies professional attitude, safety and integrity and these recent personal incidents have made me even more determined to join the fight and campaign to regulate the electrical industry - and why? it's simple - people's property and more importantly peoples lives are at risk with electrical work and homeowners and business owners should be protected and be safe in the knowledge that the electrical work they request to be carried out is undertaken correctly, safely and to today's regulations and by qualified professionals who they can trust their property and lives with.
And if property owners wish to still allow these other type of people to carry out electrical work in their property if the industry is regulated then there must be a system in place for the law abiding electricians to report the non-registered and unqualified 'electricians'.
Never miss an opportunity to listen and learn and that's why more than 50 members recently packed into the River House, Stirling for the AGM of SELECT - the electrical trade association for Scotland.
From the usual business of an AGM to technical talks about the forthcoming new edition of BS7671 the electrical regulations it was another worthwhile event to keep in touch with updates and likeminded members of the electrical industry.
Photos courtesy of SELECT & CABLEtalk magazine.
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