NICEIC and ELECSA have expressed their concern towards parliamentary recommendations to alter the current-standing electricians' Compentent Persons Scheme system, which if granted would require all domestic electricians to have a qualifications equivalent to an NVQ level 3 within the next five years.
The current system requires simply one person at a firm to be at a Qualified Supervisor level (equivalent to that of an NVQ 3), who is responsible for the final checking of work and signing off that it has been completed in accordance with standards and regulations. However what is now being proposed is that all electricians, from firm employees to self-employed ones, should have this level of qualification.
This, among other suggestions, have come following a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee stemming from a number of health and safety incidents from the last few years. Among these was the Emma Shaw incident from 2007, where the 22-year-old mother was electrocuted whilst mopping up water from a faulty boiler.
CEO of Certsure (operator of both NICEIC and ELECSA) Emma Shaw spoke out, saying that these measures would place "a huge onus on firms" regardless of size. It is feared costs will be pushed up as apprentices are slowly phased out, causing the electrical industry to suffer in the long term. Clancy also stated;
"The QS system, which Part P is based on, is proven to work and as the committee states in its report has actually pushed domestic electrical installation standards up in recent years."
Certsure stresses that the view that firms are sending out unqualified electricians is unfounded, with electrician firms fully aware of their responsibility and 80% of domestic work carried out by Part P qualified electricians. The question is though - is 80% enough?
However the two groups have welcomed other recommendations made by the report, which include:
- Calls for an annual limit on the number of jobs that a single QS can review
- Action from the government to raise public awareness of Part P – similar to that of Gas Safe
- Proactive enforcement against those who breach Part P and those who work outside of competent person schemes
- A single register for all Part P electricians covering all schemes
Meanwhile the Committee themselves are fully backing their proposals, with Clive Betts MP arguing that the current system "can brand the incompetent as competent" as homeowners have no guarantee that the electricians turning up at their doors are fully qualified. The commitee also calls into question whether a limited amount of supervisors are "adequately able to check work with such large caseloads".
He concludes; "Under the changes we propose people would know that the electrician working in their home is qualified. If, as scheme operators told us, standards of electricians are already high, then the added criteria will not be too onerous.
"During the five year transition there should be an annual limit — agreed by the industry — on the maximum number of transactions that a single qualified supervisor can review. This will increase the chance that in the interim unqualified electricians will at least be having their work properly checked by a qualified supervisor."
Electrical Contracting News