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.
View More Videos
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.
Business , Weather, Community, Charity