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Switched On 19 Powered By Docstoc   Issue19 | Winter 2010 | £5.00

                                                 dealing with
Green goo clean up                               a legacy from
                                                 the 1960s
                                      Articles support the ongoing         registered with the NICEIC, and it   Our whole raison d’être is to
                                      modernisation of the Charity         is likely that the electrical        ensure the safety of all users of
                                      and will, with the continued         installation industry will be        electricity and it would not be
                                      support of our Trustees, staff and   significantly affected during the    acceptable to the ESC if we
                                      stakeholders ensure we               current round of spending cuts       were to allow a vacuum to
                                      continue to fulfil our objectives    so prudence is required.             appear whereby anyone could
                                      and meet the all-important                                                undertake electrical work
                                      public benefit test set by the       You may well be aware that           without any checks - which
                                      Charity Commission.                  since the coalition government       would surely be the case should
                                                                           took office there has been much      Part P be scrapped. I agree it’s
                                      The Charity has just completed       said about cutting red tape and      not perfect but we do have
                                      work on a new five-year strategy     of course the Building               ideas to make it more cost
  ’m writing this having just         and the goals set by Trustees are
I heard the headlines from the
Chancellor’s spending review
                                      now being incorporated into a
                                      new three-year rolling business
                                                                           Regulations, and particularly Part
                                                                           P, have been the focus of
                                                                                                                effective and easier to enforce.
                                                                                                                We will be discussing these
                                                                           people’s ire. Yes, I do agree that   views with industry colleagues
and while I don’t have a crystal      plan. It is imperative that we       Part P has not been seen as the
                                      deliver on the objectives in the                                          at an event we will be hosting in
ball, I am pretty certain that we                                          electrician’s friend but it has
                                      plan. Both myself and my team                                             January on the future of Part P,
all face some challenging times                                            benefited the consumer. As it
in the coming years as the            will be measured against these                                            so if you have a view please pass
                                                                           does contribute to safety, the       it on to your scheme operator.
austerity measures take effect.       objectives as part of the
                                                                           Council will continue to lobby
                                      ongoing review of performance
The Electrical Safety Council is                                           Westminster for its retention and    On a final note, I hope that you
                                      by Trustees to ensure that we
very aware of the difficult global                                         we made our support for Part P       have a peaceful Christmas and
                                      are delivering to our
economic situation and the                                                 clear at the party conferences       may I offer you and your families
                                      beneficiaries and that we are
likely impact on the Charity and                                           held in the autumn of 2010. We       a successful New Year.
                                      being financially prudent in
its beneficiaries. To this end the                                         have already sent comments to
                                      everything we do.                                                         As always, we would welcome
Charity is ensuring that it is well                                        the Minister, Andrew Stunell, as
                                                                                                                feedback on Switched On, to
positioned to meet the                It is also important that we         part of an initial review of the
                                                                                                                help us improve the content.
challenges of the future. On 30       marshal our finances in a            Building Regulations and we have
September a new set of Articles       responsible way as funding of        also participated in a workshop
was approved at the Council’s         the Charity is predominantly         on the future of the Building        Phil Buckle
AGM. The changes to the               from electrical contractors          Regulations.                         Director General

                                                             Have you tried the ESC’s Essential Guide to
                                                             the Wiring Regulations, the ‘must have’
                                                             online information tool for electrical
                                                             installation designers, specifiers, installers
                                                             and verifiers?
                                                              Well respected in the industry, this authoritative, fully-searchable
                                                              online resource currently contains over 300 articles (known as
                                                              ‘topics’) covering a wide range of relevant subjects to help you in
                                                              your work or studies. Subjects are clearly explained with the aid of
                                                              full colour illustrations, diagrams and tables.

                                                              The Guide is expanded and maintained by the addition of 40 new
                                                              or updated topics throughout each year, all included in your

          Go to for a FREE 7-DAY TRIAL or to subscribe.
   ESC publishes 2009/10 annual report - see page 9

                                      issue 19 Winter 2010

   your insight into the electrical
   safety industry

   news                                        technical                              features
   2    Welcome                                14   Spotlight on... the JIB           10 Green goo continues to be a
                                                                                          nuisance to householders and to
   4    News in brief
                                               15   Have you ever been asked...           electrical installer

   5    After the flood has gone
                                               16   ESC investigates consumer         20 ESC reaches out safety messages
        Also, Websites now include sign                                                   to Switched On Kids
                                                    concerns over compact
                                                    fluorescent lamps
   6    Letters
                                               18   Assessing the maximum
   7    Plug into Safety campaign                   demand of a domestic electrical
        continues apace                             installation

   8    Successful partners announced for
        this year’s Fire Safety Fund awards                                           Published by:
        Also, ESC helps to create safer                                               The Electrical Safety Council
        migrant communities                                                           Unit 1.10, Canterbury Court, Kennington
                                                                                      Park Business Centre, 1 - 3 Brixton Road,
   9    ESC publishes 2009/10 annual                                                  London SW9 6DE
                                                                                      Tel: 0870 040 0561 Fax: 0870 040 0560
SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                          3

    Tackling rogue landlords                      Until about March, all our Best Practice        that the company had manufactured and
                                                  Guides can continue to be viewed on, or         supplied faulty cables during 2009 to the
    Housing and homelessness charity Shelter
                                                  downloaded free of charge from, the             UK market.
    has recently launched a campaign tackling
                                                  ‘Business and Community’ section of our
    rogue landlords in a bid to raise awareness                                                   “We believe that cables manufactured by
                                                  main website After that,
    of rent scams. According to Shelter, almost                                                   Atlas Kablo should now be treated as
                                                  all the information intended for the
    one million Britons have fallen victim to                                                     suspect and urge contractors and installers
                                                  electrical industry will be found in a new
    scams involving a private tenancy or                                                          to consider and review where they have
                                                  dedicated section of a fully redesigned
    landlord in the last three years.                                                             already installed these cables and to seek
                                                                                                  guidance from qualified electrical
    The charity has also revealed that over 90%
                                                                                                  authorities as to what action needs to be
    of environmental health officers said they    Firm fined after boiler suit fire               taken,” says the ACI.
    had encountered cases of severe damp,
                                                  An Aberdeen building firm has been              Atlas Kablo, which now appears to have
    mould, electrical or fire safety hazards in
                                                  prosecuted after a joiner's boilersuit was      ceased production, had its BASEC product
    properties they investigated in the last
                                                  set on fire when a short circuit caused a       certification licence cancelled and is no
                                                  localised electrical explosion.                 longer authorised to use the BASEC
    Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter,
                                                  George Forbes, 62, was working for              registered trademarks. Atlas Kablo’s HAR
    said: “With more and more people set to
                                                  Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) refurbishing         licence has also been removed.
    become private tenants in the future we
                                                  flats when he attempted to move a fuse
    believe this is a widespread problem that
                                                  cut-out because he needed to fit new
    will create thousands more victims unless
                                                  plasterboard behind it. Unknown to Mr
    we urgently do something about it.”                                                           Luton companies ignored warnings
                                                  Forbes, the fuse cut-out was still live and
                                                  connected to a 415 volt cable when he
                                                                                                  on electrical equipment
                                                  touched it. The HSE investigation revealed      Three Luton car repair companies have been
                                                  that the cable was twisted, causing a short-    fined a total of £4,000 for failing to act on
                                                  circuit that created enough energy to melt      electrical defects in their workshops - exposing
                                                  the cable and create a small explosion.         their workers to a serious risk of injury.

                                                  Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) pleaded              On 6 September 2010, the Health and
                                                  guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the         Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Azhar
                                                  Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. The     (aka Aziz) Mohammed (trading as ANS
                                                  firm was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay        Bodyshop and AMS Spares) for failing to
                                                  Mr Forbes £4,000.                               comply with improvement notices served
                                                                                                  on 1 May 2009.
                                                  Atlas Kablo – an update
    Best Practice Guides 7 & 8                                                                    Meanwhile Izhar Ul Haq (trading as BM’s
                                                  BASEC and the Approved Cables Initiative        Repair Centre) and Asif Butt (trading as
    As advised in the autumn issue of
                                                  (ACI) have revealed that cable                  Hydeny Autos) were convicted and
    Switched On, two new Best Practice Guides
                                                  manufactured by the Turkish company             sentenced for a similar offence respectively
    have now been published:
                                                  Atlas Kablo as early as 2009 has now been       on 23 July and 23 August 2010. All three
    Best Practice Guide No 7 - Test               identified as faulty following recent cable     companies are based on neighbouring
    instruments for electrical installations:     sample testing.                                 sites in Empress Road, Luton.
    Accuracy and consistency
                                                                                                  Mr Butt and Mr Mohammed admitted
    Best Practice Guide No 8 – Selection and
                                                                                                  breaching Section 21 of the Health and
    use of plug-in socket-outlet test devices
                                                                                                  Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to act
    Work on updating the Best Practice Guide                                                      on the improvement notices. Mr Butt was
    on connecting microgeneration systems to                                                      fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of
    domestic electrical installations (No 3)                                                      £742.40 while Mr Mohammed was fined
    commenced in December, in association                                                         £1,500 with costs of £742.40.
    with a number of other interested parties.
    Revision of the Best Practice Guide on                                                        Mr Ul Haq pleaded guilty to two breaches
    recommendation codes for domestic                                                             of the same section. He admitted failing to
    electrical installation condition reporting                                                   act on the improvement notices and failing
    (No 4) will follow in due course, and will    As reported in the last issue of Switched On,   to arrange maintenance examinations of a
    take into account the new report form that    batches of affected Altas Kablo cable           car hoist which was found to be defective.
    is likely to be included in Amendment 1 to    originally dated from February 2010,            He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay
    BS 7671: 2008.                                however recent cable testing clearly shows      costs of £742.40.

4                                                                                                                 SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010

       fter months of living away from home,
  A    Angela Beauchamp and her three
  children have to start again. Following
                                                   DO...                                               DON’T...

                                                  • Makeenter. the property is safe before • Attemptto guide you. the lights or use
                                                          sure                                             to switch on
  torrential rain in June 2010, the domestic        you                                           candles
  flood they experienced covered many
  electrical goods in water and she is aware
                                                  • Have a torch at hand when entering the • Switch onaffected by theappliances in
                                                    property.                                     the areas
                                                                                                             any electrical
                                                                                                                             flood until
  that many of them may have to be
  replaced to avoid serious injury. The need      • Switch offiftheiselectricity supply at the
                                                    fuse box, it safe to do so.
                                                                                                  they have been tested and assessed as
                                                                                                  safe by a registered electrician.
  to ‘get back to normality’ is prevalent,
  although safety is a key concern for Ms
  Beauchamp; she has considered how she
                                                  • Arrange for otherbyservices, suchproviders. • Attempt anyofelectrical repairs or
                                                    to be turned off the service
                                                                                       as gas,
                                                                                                  connection temporary electrical
  will redecorate the house, however the                                                                 supplies yourself.
                                                      The electricity and gas supplies should
  safety strategy is more complex and very
  daunting. A flood is not usually foreseen
                                                      remain off until you are advised that it is
                                                      safe to turn them back on.
                                                                                                      • Touch any exposed wires – they may
                                                                                                        still be live.
  and therefore it can be difficult to plan for
  its aftermath. Much like many Britons who       • Contact your insurance company (and
                                                    your landlord, if applicable) to tell them
                                                                                                      • Startto do so. up until you are sure it is
                                                                                                               to clean
  have suffered the devastation of flooding,
  Ms Beauchamp was certainly not expecting            what’s happened and to get advice and           Phil Buckle, director general at the Electrical
  this to happen to her family home.                  take instruction.                               Safety Council warns: “Anyone who has
                                                  • Use a registered electrician to assess the
                                                    condition and safety of the electrical
                                                                                                      suffered a flood in their home must
                                                                                                      consider the damage that may have been
                                                      wiring in the property, as well as fixed        caused to their electrical wiring, sockets
                                                                                                      and electrical appliances. Flood-damaged
                                                      and portable electrical appliances
                                                                                                      electrical goods and installations may be
                                                      affected by the flood.
                                                                                                      dangerous and anyone concerned about
  The ESC has compiled two useful lists to
  assist homeowners and tenants when
                                                  • Seek professional advice about the
                                                    restoration of your property before
                                                                                                      their safety should ask a registered
                                                                                                      electrician to assess their safety and
  re-entering their homes following a flood:          clean up commences.                             condition before use.”

 The Electrical Safety Council has produced a leaflet advising how to deal with flood damaged property which is available to
 download from For further advice and information call the Council helpline on 0870 040 0561

    recent survey from The National Deaf          of electricity. As well as providing videos and     Commenting on TwoThirtyVolts and
A   Children’s Society (NDCS) revealed the
growing void between the GCSE exam results
                                                  games for children, the websites include a
                                                  variety of resources for teachers, including
                                                                                                      SwitchedOnKids, Tyron Woolfe from the NDCS
                                                                                                      says: “The two websites are fantastic resources
of hearing and non-hearing students. The          lesson plans and revision notes. Both of these      for young deaf people. The NDCS welcomes
study showed that 71% of deaf children            sites now host full British Sign Language (BSL)     organisations and companies actively working
gained fewer grades at A*-C at GCSE;              throughout, to ensure that deaf children can        towards making information accessible to
significantly less that their hearing             easily access the learning resources they           deaf young people, and these websites
counterparts. As part of its commitment to        provide.                                            developed by the ESC are an excellent
accessibility and education, the ESC is now                                                           example of such a practice. Deaf young
providing sign language on both of its            Many deaf children have difficulty learning to
                                                  read and write because it is a skill so closely     people can find out how to keep themselves
educational websites for children.
                                                  linked with speech and sound. Consequently,         safe, pick up fun facts and get information, which is aimed at 11-      most web-based educational resources for            about careers in electricity. It is rare for any
17 year olds, and,          children are not accessible to the majority of      organisation which isn’t deaf-centred to
developed for 7-12 year olds, are popular         the deaf community. It is this lack of accessible   provide full BSL translation on their websites,
educational websites that provide a range of      information that some believe is affecting the      and we encourage other organisations to
information about the benefits and dangers        education of deaf children in the UK.               follow the ESC’s example.”

SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                                                          5

Testing times Extension leads
for RCDs      While admiring the thorough
                                         work on four-way extension leads
While employed with one of our           described in the autumn issue of
leading supply companies, I              Switched On, I’m amazed that I
carried out an audit on well over        could find no reference to the
100 installations fitted with RCDs       problem’s most obvious cause.
and earth tripping devices and
found around 50% would not               That the regulations permit a 13A
operate. Admittedly, some of             plug feeding a four-way
these were of the old voltage            extension to be protected by an
operated type. Following this            internal fuse required not to fail    EU Injury Database
audit, I raised the question: “What      until the current exceeds 20.8A,      On the back page of Issue 18 of              Sweden. These were chosen
is the solution to better RCD            (let alone 24.7A for 30 minutes) is   Switched On you refer to the EU              because they have ‘similar’
safety?”                                 clearly inviting trouble from         Injury Database and how it might             cultures to the UK – the UK was
                                         overheating - 4.8 kW from a 3kW       provide data missing since the               not included simply because no
Regular testing was never carried        source! This, surely, is the real     demise of the UK Home and                    injury statistics have been
out and here lies the real issue as      problem that has to be                Leisure Accident Surveillance                available since 2002 when the
to how we are going to educate           addressed.                            System. You say the EU IDB covers            home and leisure injury
the public into the need to
                                                                               eight countries but you do not               databases ceased to be
regularly test their RCDs.               Tom Jacobs
                                                                               say if the UK is one of those                supported by the government.
Everyone is surrounded by so                                                   countries covered. If it is not, I fear
                                                                               that the IDB will be of limited              It is fair to say that installation
many electrical devices, such as
                                                                                                                            practice may vary in EU member
computers, games, TVs, DVD               Electric gates                        value. Even with harmonisation,
                                                                                                                            states, but we had to refer to
recorders, microwaves, clocks etc,                                             UK installation practices are so
                                                                               different from most other EU                 something because the UK home
which all rely on a continuous           I read your article on the dangers
                                                                               states as to question their                  and leisure statistics are now too
power supply for 24 hours of the         of electrically operated gates in
                                                                               relevance. We need UK statistics             far out of date to rely on,
day.                                     Issue 18 of Switched On.
                                                                               to prove (or sometimes disprove)             especially with the ever-growing
With so much going on around             While not disagreeing with the        assertions made about electrical             range of electrical products on
them, as well as bringing up the         recommendations contained in          safety in the UK.                            the market.
children, the last thing on their        this article, there seems to me to
                                                                               I doubt the wisdom of extrapolation          The 84 hospitals were selected
minds is the periodic testing of         be one glaring omission to the
                                                                               from a sample of 84 hospitals in             from the eight countries
their RCDs.                              safety requirements for this type
                                                                               eight countries to the whole of              mentioned above so none of
                                         of equipment.
Even if they do find the time for                                              Europe, still more in applying it to         those were from the UK. It would
this, then a large number of             It should not be possible for an      the UK. How many of those 84                 have been preferable to refer to
electrical devices will have to be       actuating pushbutton switch to        hospitals are in the UK?                     UK injury statistics but they
restarted or re-timed, and that is       operate this equipment without                                                     simply don’t exist, even though
before they have shutdown their          being held by the operator while      N C Friswell                                 there is an EU Regulation
TVs, computers and Playstations          the gates are opening or closing.     Retired electrical safety inspector,         requiring the UK to have a system
before the tests.                                                              formerly with the HSE                        for collecting injury data. A pilot
                                         At present it is allowable for a                                                   scheme for collecting injury data
The general public does not              driver of a vehicle to operate a      The ESC replies: The eight                   was set up in Wales but it was
perceive an immediate danger in          radio remote control from within      countries used in our survey were            never completed – other pilots in
electrical installations. As for         a car and drive away. If a child      Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Latvia,            the UK have not even started.
testing, to them it is not               then obstructs the moving gate it     Malta, Netherlands, Slovenia and
important. Their only concern            does not stop and there is a
appears to be to have a                  tragedy. If drivers needed to stay
continuous supply available 24           within close proximity and                            Letters
hrs a day.                               maintain the command signal
                                                                                 I’m sure that there are many within the electrical industry that
                                         until fully open or closed, then
Reliability in manufacture, I feel, is                                           will have strong feelings about some of the issues raised in
                                         the deaths that have occurred
really the only answer but even                                                  Switched On. So feel free to shout about them.
                                         may have been avoided.
that is not a guarantee that the
                                                                                 Please email your letters to
device is going to operate when          Perhaps the ESC should take
called upon to do so.                    another look at this issue.             Please note that we will not be able to enter into correspondence regarding every
                                                                                 letter received, nor will we have the space to publish every viewpoint. We reserve
David Le Clercq MIET MCMI                William Budd Budd Electrical            the right to edit letters for publication.
Bournemouth                              Cardiff

6                                                                                                                               SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010


                                                                                                    packs available
                                                                                                    The ESC has produced an ‘electrician’s
                                                                                                    pack’ designed to help electricians put
                                                                                                    forward the case for RCDs in their
                                                                                                    conversations with homeowners. Each
                                                                                                    pack contains 50 ESC leaflets that
                                                                                                    include information on the risk of
                                                                                                    death and injury that electrical
                                                                                                    accidents can pose and how installing
                                                                                                    an RCD in a consumer unit can offer full
    he Plug into Safety RCD campaign               safety information, it also contains             protection to households and families.
T   continues to garner coverage in a range
of media outlets. Following on from the
                                                   detachable, blank business cards - urging        These packs are available at many
                                                   consumers to install RCD protection - which      wholesale outlets throughout the UK
launch in May, the ESC has continued to            contractors can leave with clients after a       and are free of charge. Packs can be
approach both consumer and trade media             house-call. This is just one of the ways in      obtained from the following stores:
to keep a continuous ‘drip-feed’ of                which the Council is supporting industry in
information coming through.                        encouraging householders to install RCDs         Arc Electrical
                                                   and take on board basic safety messages. To      CEF (City Electrical Factors)
“We know that to really get a message
                                                   supplement this, the Council has also been       Denman's
across to an audience, you can’t just say it
                                                   pursuing coverage in key stakeholder             JH Leeke and Son
once and hope that people remember. You
                                                   publications, including Fire and Rescue          QVS
have to repeat it, over a period of time, in
                                                   Services magazines and local council             Rexel
different ways, to try and embed the
                                                   websites.                                        Screwfix Trade Counters
information,” explains Angela Murphy, ESC
media manager. “To be really effective, a
                                                   “There is no doubt that we have been able        Wilts Wholesale
campaign needs time and if its objective is
                                                   to achieve strong media coverage but the         We would like to thank our wholesale
to help bring about behavioral change, it
                                                   life-blood of any campaign is case studies –     partners for their support.
can take years.”
                                                   people’s real-life stories,” adds Angela. “We
                                                   have been developing a number of these to        Please visit
To take advantage of the summer seasonal                                                  
focus, the Council initially targeted home         use with the Plug into Safety campaign but
                                                   we are always looking for more. So, if you, a    to find your nearest stockist.
and gardening publications - both in print
                                                   friend or family member, or even a client,
and on-line - with a range of electrical safety                                                     We welcome your feedback on the packs
                                                   have a story to tell about how an RCD saved
tips emphasising RCD protection. Among                                                              and the leaflets and to hear your views
                                                   a life or prevented an injury – or could have,
the coverage gained are items in magazines                                                          on the campaign itself. Please email us
                                                   if one had been used – we would love to
such as Period Living, Traditional Homes and                                                        at
                                                   hear from you.”
Garden News.

Of course, it is also vital that the ESC keeps
the industry informed and involved in its
activity; and the Council has achieved a
spate of coverage in the trade press,
particularly with the launch of the
Electrician’s tool-kit (see box). Articles and
news items have appeared in, to name a
few, Professional Electrician, Electrical Digest
and Electrical Contracting News.

The toolkit is specifically designed to help
                                                    If you have a story to tell, please contact
contractors communicate the benefits of             Angela at:
RCD protection to customers. In addition to

SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                                                7

   ollowing the success of the Council’s Fire    All the schemes are locally based in order to
F  Safety Fund last year, in September it
announced the successful projects in the
                                                 support their communities. For example,
                                                 Wandsworth Council’s initiative, aimed at
2010-11 Fire Safety Fund Awards scheme.          young carers, was submitted in response to
                                                 two fire incidents in the area. These revealed
Of the 169 applications received, 23
                                                 a need to run training sessions, in
organisations throughout the UK were
                                                 partnership with Fire & Rescue Services, for
chosen to share over £100,000 of funding to
                                                 young carers in order for them to learn
support electrical fire prevention schemes
                                                 about electrical safety in the home and
through partnership working at local level.
                                                 share this information with other members
With around half of all domestic fires in the
                                                 of their household.
UK caused by electricity (either electrical
faults or misuse of appliances), this is a key   Funding was also awarded to The Risk
issue for the ESC.                               Factory, a safety organisation based in
                                                 Edinburgh. It looked at figures from the
This year’s successful projects will cover a
range of activities including electric blanket   Scottish Community Fire Safety Survey that
testing; products testing and replacements;      stated that 47% of victims of accidental
raising awareness of electrical safety by        dwelling fires are over the age of 60. Their
delivering training; and assistance with the     project, working in partnership with Lothian
refurbishment of a safety vehicle which will     and Borders Fire & Rescue Service, plans to
be used at local community safety events.        develop a new awareness programme
                                                 aimed at the elderly, which will use real life
The judging process was rigorous and each        scenarios to highlight everyday electrical
application was assessed against a set           dangers and hazards within the home and
criteria that, among other things, included      provide guidance on how to avoid them.
the need to demonstrate that projects
would effectively support fire prevention at     To find out about the full range of projects
local level; and that they would reach high      supported this year by our Fire Safety Fund,
risk and/or vulnerable people in their           visit
community such as the elderly or the young.      community/fire-safety-funding

                                                    oland’s main statistical office says that     Following a terrible fire in an HMO in
 ESC HELPS TO                                    P  1.95 million people, or 3.3% of the           Germany in which Turkish immigrants died,
 CREATE SAFER                                    population, left their country to work abroad    Lancashire’s chief fire officer, Peter Holland,
                                                 between the country’s entry into the EU in       speaking on BBC TV’s 10 O’clock News said:
 MIGRANT                                         2004 and the end of 2006. Many of those          “Though many HMOs are well run and
 COMMUNITIES                                     people ended up working in the UK.               incorporate proper fire precautions, it is sadly
                                                                                                  the case that a number are not and we have
                                                 Lancashire became home for a number of           had a number of fires in Lancashire in which
                                                 Polish migrant workers, typically sharing        firefighters have saved the day and rescued
                                                 rented rooms in so-called Houses of Multiple     people, but have discovered an atrocious lack
                                                 Occupation (HMOs); houses or flats let to        of fire protection measures in the property.”
                                                 three or more tenants. This soon became a
                                                 focus for concern for the Lancashire Fire and    Already a new threat to fire safety had
                                                 Rescue Service, initially because of the         emerged, explained by the community
                                                 heightened fire risks attributable to            liaison worker, Magdalena Stryjewska,
                                                 overcrowding, but more was to follow in          appointed by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue
                                                 relation to incompatibility between UK 13-       Service to head up their fire prevention
                                                 amp power sockets and the plugs on               efforts with migrant workers. “Polish workers
                                                 electrical appliances brought into the           were bringing electrical equipment with
                                                 country by the workers.                          them, such as mobile phone chargers,

8                                                                                                                SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010

T  he Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has
   published its 2009/10 annual report
                                                     Council to deliver positive outcomes for its
                                                     beneficiaries. According to Bill, key governing
                                                                                                           • Developing a new educational website on
                                                                                                             electrical safety for teens -
revealing that the charity is now paying closer      documents have been modernised and             
attention to evidence-led campaigning and            improved. “To ensure we are fit for the future,
impact evaluation. In addition, the Council          the Board of the Electrical Safety Council has        • Awarding overvulnerabledirect support
                                                                                                             and grants to
                                                                                                                            £200K in
continues to give guidance on installation           started to undertake a full review of the
and product safety while making grants
available to vulnerable groups.
                                                     current strategy. This will include responding
                                                     to major external drivers, such as the growing
                                                                                                           • Launching an online buyer’s guide to
                                                                                                             encourage safe shopping online

According to Phil Buckle, director general of
                                                     environmental agenda and the potential
                                                     impact of current financial realities,” he affirms.   • Partnering with Trading Standards Institute
                                                                                                             to develop a secure online system to share
the ESC, the charity made good progress
against its strategic objectives and undertook       In terms of strategic priorities, the ESC says it        information about electrical products and
major operational changes for the period             spent the last year focusing on four strategic           wider safety issues
under review. These changes will help the
ESC cement its position as a leading
                                                     priorities - building a robust evidence base to
                                                     ensure that campaigning and technical
                                                                                                           • Creating a new database with product
campaigning charity and technical authority          activity of the Council is targeted; making
on all matters relating to electrical safety. “The   electrical installations safer; providing direct
changes have created several benefits for the        support and grants; and improving its
organisation, including a new technical              strategy for product safety. The ESC also
development function and greater                     undertook research in key areas such as
coordination of activities. This has helped to       public attitudes to electrical safety and
focus the skills and energy of the team into         product safety.
areas such as product safety,” says Phil. He
                                                     Among the achievements highlighted for
notes that the Electrical Safety Council is now
                                                     2009/10 were:
well on the way to becoming “a charity that is
more forward thinking, strategic and better
able to prevent accidents caused by
                                                     • Publishing a Landlords’ Guide to Electrical
                                                       Safety in England & Wales and distributing
electricity in the UK.”                                 over 20,000 copies
In the meantime, chairman Bill Wright lauds
the ESC for its achievements, noting that an
                                                     • Runningraise landlords’ awareness of their
                                                       to help
                                                                a safer rented homes campaign
                                                                                                           The 2009/10 annual report and financial
extensive review of the governance structure            obligations and make tenants aware of              statements can be downloaded at
and policy has been undertaken to allow the             their rights to a safe home              

equipped with two-pin plugs,” she said. “We          “To help us get the message across, the ESC           Association of the United Kingdom, Peter
discovered that they were forcibly inserting         have made stocks of their leaflet Adapt your          Holland concludes: “I see Magda’s project
them into UK 13-amp power outlets, often             electrical appliances for safe UK use freely          and the Electrical Safety Council’s central
jabbing a screwdriver into the earth slot to         available to us. I mostly make use of it in its       role in it as wholly consistent with the
trip the sprung-loaded shields over the live         Polish version, Przystosuj urzadzenia                 outstanding work that the ESC does in
and neutral slots.                                   elektryczne do bezpiecznego uzytkowania w             partnership with Fire and Rescue Services in
                                                     Wielkiej Brytanii, which I talk through and           the UK. I am profoundly grateful, not least
“In some cases they’ve bought converters             hand out during my fire safety talks in Polish        because of the lives and properties that
marked FOR SHAVERS ONLY instead of a                 to groups at community centres and other              have undoubtedly been protected due to
proper EU-to-UK converter and after                  gatherings.                                           the invaluable support the ESC has
running a higher power appliance than a                                                                    provided.”
shaver through it, have complained that the          “Without question, the leaflet
device has stopped working after just one            is an essential resource and
use! I realised too that the concept of fused        together with free converter
plugs for appliances was new to them.                plugs for the neediest, helps
                                                     me reduce the likelihood of
“The Electrical Safety Council stepped in to         fires and electrocution in
help us tackle these issues, generously              Lancashire homes.”
donating converter plugs, including ones
incorporating a fuse, to make it possible for        Newly elected as the president
people to use their electrical equipment safely.     of the Chief Fire Officer’s

SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                                                            9

     Green Goo continues
     nuisance to househo
     to electrical installer
          The phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘green goo’ is one that has
          affected electrical installations ever since the late 1960s and it seems
          that it is a problem that could be with us for some time to come.

          A recent increase in the number of reports received by
          the Electrical Safety Council indicates that the problem
          caused by green goo remains ever-present. The reasons
          for the increase in reports may be related to the
          economic downturn, in particular the growing trend for
          householders to improve their home rather than to
          move house.

          What is green goo?
          The insulation on flat twin and earth cable is made from
          polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to which a plasticiser, di-isoctyl
          phthalate is added during manufacture to make the
          cable relatively pliable to aid cable installation. Green     Effects on electrical insulation
          goo is a side effect formed during the chemical reaction
                                                                        If the green goo is restricted to that of leaching of
          between the plasticiser of the insulation and the copper
                                                                        plasticiser then evidence suggests that, although
          conductor that occurs when the conductor temperature
                                                                        unsightly, the electrical integrity of the cable insulation
          nears its maximum operating temperature (typically
                                                                        will not be reduced if the cable is not disturbed.
          70 oC). At such temperatures the plasticiser can leach
                                                                        However, if the green goo is severe it can result in the
          from the cable causing the insulation to become sticky
                                                                        cable insulation becoming brittle whereby the insulation
          to the touch initially but as the leaching continues the
                                                                        quality may be significantly impaired, which could lead
          cable insulation becomes hard and brittle.
                                                                        to electrical faults, including an increased risk of
          The problem was most prevalent between 1965 and               electrical fires. Consequently, where green goo is
          1971 when an antioxidant was introduced into the              discovered an insulation resistance test should be
          manufacturing process. Cable manufactured since the           carried out to determine the extent of the affect on the
          mid 1970s does not have the same inherent defect.             cable insulation.

10                                                                                                 SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010

s to be a
olders and
  The green goo may also have detrimental effects on           that those persons working with affected cable adopt
  accessories (in appearance and functionality terms) and      good personal hygiene practice by washing their hands
  their decorative finishes.                                   before eating or drinking to prevent inadvertent
                                                               contact and/or ingestion of green goo.

                                                               Environmental considerations
                                                                                                                               “The problem
                                                                                                                               was most
  Unfortunately, where an electrical installation is
  seriously affected by green goo, the only practicable        Electrical installers should determine whether the              prevalent
  solution is to rewire the premises and replace any           requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic
                                                                                                                               between 1965
  related affected electrical equipment. Simply replacing      Equipment Regulations (WEEE) are applicable when
  affected electrical accessories and equipment and re-        disposing of affected cables or accessories (socket-            and 1971
  decorating is likely to be only a temporary                  outlets, lighting switches or ceiling roses, for example).      when an
  improvement measure and the green goo will evidently         The ‘crossed out wheelie bin’ symbol found on many
  re-occur. The Electrical Safety Council advises that all     electrical items means that they should not be put              antioxidant
  such remedial work is undertaken by a registered             with normal household rubbish. Instead, take the                was
  electrician.                                                 affected waste to a recycling facility that accepts
                                                               electrical products.
                                                                                                                               introduced  ”
                                                               Although electric cable does not generally fall under
  Health risks                                                 the requirements of the WEEE Regulations it should be
  Contrary to belief, green goo is not a carcinogen.           recycled safely. Where
  However, being in contact with it may lead to possible       doubt exists on how to
  ill-health effects, such as skin dermatitis and/or rashes.   dispose of electrical and
  The advice from the Health and Safety Executive is           electronic equipment
  that precautions should be taken to prevent skin             contact should be made
  contact and ingestion of the substance. This can be          with your local authority
  easily achieved through the use of protective gloves         who will be able to advise
  and clothes, such as disposable coveralls with hood to       you on how safely to
  prevent contamination of clothing and hair, for              dispose of the item and
  example. Such precautions should be especially               provide you with the
  followed while removing and disposing of any affected        location of your nearest
  cable. Consideration should also be given to ensuring        recycling centre.

  SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                                     11

   he introduction of the smart metering                                                                                                  regard to ensuring the electrical safety of       Ascertiva Group, Institution of Engineering
T  programme will see smart meters for
electricity and gas being installed in all
                                                                                                                                          householders and of themselves.                   Technology, Sterling Power Group

                                                                                                                                          While a lot of activity is being carried out by   The event provided a platform to explore
domestic premises in the UK by 2020 (or
                                                                                                                                          many organisations to help ensure the             ways for building upon the good work
sooner if plans for an accelerated
                                                                                                                                          smooth and successful implementation of           already initiated by Ofgem and the energy
programme are adopted). This will arguably
                                                                                                                                          the smart meter programme, there remains          supply industry for maximising the
be the biggest reform of the UK energy
                                                                                                                                          work to do.                                       opportunities presented by the smart
market since the switch to North Sea gas in
                                                                                                                                                                                            metering programme – a once-in-a-lifetime
the 1970s, and will involve the installation of
                                                                                                                                          In October, as a move to bring together           event, and how best to protect
46 million new electricity and gas meters in
                                                                                                                                          many of the smart meter stakeholders, the         householders and meter installers alike.
26 million homes across the UK.
                                                                                                                                          Council invited senior representatives from
                                                       Payment received
                                                              Debt to clear
                                                                                                                                          energy suppliers, meter operators,                Full and frank discussions were held on
                                                            Outstanding debt                 Most recent payments

                                                                                                                                                                                            topics including available Standards

                                                                                         Press & Hold

                                                                                                                                          distributors, enforcement bodies and central
                                                                                                                                          government to take part in a round-table          associated with installer competence and
                                                                                                                                          event to debate how all our efforts could be      those for installation practice, options
                                                                                                                                          united to tackle the opportunities and            available for improving safety through the
                                                                                       GAS FLOW
                                                                                                                                          barriers associated with the installation of      smart meter specification, and how best to
                    HANDLE WITH CARE

                                                                                                                                                                                            communicate safety messages to the
                      IF YOU THINK YOU SMELL GAS
                    Turn off the supply at the control valve.
                    Open doors and windows. Do NOT use

                                                                                                                                          smart electricity meters.
                    naked flames. Do NOT turn electrical
                     switches on or off. Do NOT smoke.

                               0800 000 000                                      Press button A until Metre Index is visible
                                                                                 thenpress Button B to update Index

                                                                                                                    Under the gas Act

                                                                                                                    this meter is the
                                                                                                                    property of the Gas
                 For use with gases consisting
                 mainly of Methane
                 excluding LPG
                                                                                       A                  B         Supplier to these

                         Q max 6m2/hr
                         Q min 0.04m2/hr                                                          ACCESS ONLY BY AUTHORISED PERSONNEL
                         P max 75 mbar

                                                                                                                                          The event was chaired by Ann Robinson
                                                                                                                                          from U-Switch, who welcomed participants          The debate concluded with proposals that
The Electrical Safety Council believes that,                                                                                                                                                are likely to result in the Electrical Safety
                                                                                                                                          representing the following organisations:
with the co-operation of the electricity                                                                                                                                                    Council taking a leading role in developing
supply industry, there is an opportunity to                                                                                               Ofgem, Health and Safety Executive, Energy        safety information for dissemination to
improve electrical safety in some of the UK                                                                                               Retail Association, Energy Networks               householders during the smart meter
housing stock. But the ESC has concerns as                                                                                                Association, Fire and Rescue Services,            installation process. It will also see the
to how the competence and workmanship                                                                                                     MOCOPA, British Gas, E.on, NPower, Unite,         Council continuing to play its part in
of the installers being trained to carry out                                                                                              Siemens Metering, National Skills Academy         helping to ensure that the safety interests of
this major programme will be assured with                                                                                                 for Power, Electrical Contractors’ Association,   consumers are fully considered.

       ith government statistics showing that                                                                                             renowned. Twenty-six people attended the          reduce them. This kind of collaboration
W      approximately half of all accidental
domestic fires in the UK are caused by
                                                                                                                                          event including all 14 fire investigation
                                                                                                                                          officers from Hertfordshire FRS, as well as
                                                                                                                                                                                            shows where partnership working can really
                                                                                                                                                                                            have an impact. By supporting the FRS in
electricity, hands-on training for front line                                                                                             representatives from fire services in Norfolk,    this way, we help them to help us reduce
staff is vital.                                                                                                                           Suffolk, Cambridge, Bedfordshire and Essex.       the economic and emotional losses caused
                                                                                                                                                                                            by electrical fires.”
To help address this issue, the Electrical                                                                                                Steve Curtler, product safety manager at the
Safety Council recently teamed up with                                                                                                    Council also attended the course and used         The Council works on a range of initiatives to
Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS)                                                                                               the opportunity to share information about        reduce the number of electrical fires in the
to sponsor a training course on the fire                                                                                                  the work of the Electrical Safety Council and     UK. One of these, the Fire Safety Fund has to
investigation of electrical incidents.                                                                                                    the partnerships it develops to support grass     date awarded £220,104 to community
                                                                                                                                          roots community fire safety projects.             projects to improve electrical fire safety.
The two-day course, attended by fire
investigation and scenes of crime officers,                                                                                               Phil Buckle, director general of the ESC,
covered a range of topics, from basic                                                                                                     comments: “The need for specialised training
electrical theory through to arc mapping
                                                                                                                                          is evident – the government statistics speak
and point of origin indicators, with emphasis
                                                                                                                                          for themselves. By enabling rescue services
on practical exercises.
                                                                                                                                          to extend their understanding of electrical
The course was opened by Hertfordshire’s                                                                                                  fires, we help them develop best-practice
area commander for operations, Doug                                                                                                       techniques and approaches to dealing with
Robinson, and led by Dr Nick Carey, a full-                                                                                               them. It should also help to improve
time fire investigation officer for the London                                                                                            accuracy of fire reporting, which in turn will
Fire Brigade. He is the electrical fires expert                                                                                           enhance statistical data on electrical fires
for the FRS UK-wide and is internationally                                                                                                and assists us in determining how best to

12                                                                                                                                                                                                        SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010

    his autumn, the Electrical Safety Council    councillors signed the pledge and at the        Safety campaign, particularly from a
T   attended the Labour and Conservative
Party Conferences, taking its RCD and fire
                                                 Tory conference there were several high
                                                 profile visitors to the stand. These included
                                                                                                 prominent Conservative MP. He likened the
                                                                                                 campaign to the government’s long-
prevention agendas to key opinion formers        cabinet ministers Caroline Spelman              standing and successful Fire Kills initiative,
and policy makers in the national political      (Secretary of State for Environment, Food       which has dramatically increased the
arena. The background to both events, held       and Rural Affairs) and Cheryl Gillan            number of smoke alarms in UK homes. He
in Manchester and Birmingham respectively,       (Secretary of State for Wales).                 suggested that Plug into Safety should
was of some historical significance. Labour’s                                                    follow a similar approach by engaging and
conference was ‘book-ended’ by Ed                The ESC also held fringe events at each         liaising with fire brigades – something the
Miliband’s appointment as party leader and       conference, with a small, select group of key   Council already does with its Fire Safety
his brother David’s subsequent resignation       politicians and stakeholders invited. The       Fund. He also suggested that greater
from the front bench. The Conservative           events consisted of a dinner, followed by       publicity was needed on the issue, and that
convention was their first in government         discussions on the theme of the impact of       there could be scope for the Department of
since 1996 and came just ahead of the            electrical fires on UK property. Conversation   Communities and Local Government to
much-anticipated Comprehensive Spending          took place in a relaxed and informal            support a national initiative. The Council
Review in October.                               atmosphere, with Council guests invited to      hopes to foster new partnerships that can
                                                 respond to issues raised by ESC director        add value to the existing relationships it has
The ESC had exhibition stands at both            general Phil Buckle.                            with numerous UK Fire Services, as well as
conferences, with our RCD campaign ‘Plug                                                         industry, retail and community groups.
into Safety’-inspired design highlighting the    The discussion incorporated a range of
dangers caused by carrying out DIY or            different views on how domestic fires might     Overall, reactions to the ESC agenda were
gardening without RCD protection. The            be reduced. At the Labour conference, there     positive and the Council fully expects that
Council asked MPs and local government           was a consensus that more regulation is         the contacts made and meetings held will
councillors to sign a pledge in support of its   needed - particularly in the privately-rented   prove valuable in helping it to further the
objectives; to encourage greater use of          sector - where some rogue landlords fail to     interests of consumer safety in the UK. If you
RCDs, and to introduce local registration        protect their tenants from the real risks of    would like to know more about how the
and periodic inspection requirements for         fire. One of the parliamentary guests, an       ESC is helping to influence Westminster’s
private landlords.                               influential backbench MP, suggested that        home safety agenda, please see
                                                 this area “cannot be over regulated”.  for more information.
In all, the Council spoke with around 500
                                                                                                 Phil Buckle (ESC director general) and Martyn Allen
people at its stand over the two events. In      At the Conservative event there was general     (ESC head of technical development) with Emily
Manchester, five MPs and 11 elected              approval for the objectives of the Plug into    Thornberry (MP for Islington South and Finsbury)

SwitchedOn Issue 19 Winter 2010                                                                                                                        13

 Spotlight on…the JIB
                 Steve Brawley, chief executive of the JIB, brings
                 readers of Switched On up to speed with current
                The Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting
                Industry (JIB) serves the electrotechnical industry by
setting standards of employment and occupational competence. Since
its inception in 1968, the JIB has evolved to meet the ever-changing
needs of a technologically driven industry.
Some 1,600 companies are members of the JIB, employing around
16,000 employees across the electrotechnical industry and over
100,000 individuals hold valid Electrotechnical Certification Scheme
(ECS) cards issued by the JIB to accredit their occupational
The JIB provides a range of member benefits and has recently
introduced a number of initiatives to benefit the sector. Current JIB
services to the electrotechnical industry include:

• The Electrotechnical CertificationJIB, offers(ECS), individualjointly
  owned by the JIB and the Scottish
                                                      which is
                                                                  in the
     industry the opportunity to accredit their qualifications and
     occupational competence at all levels, from Labourer to Manager.
     The Scheme is affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification
     Scheme (CSCS), thus providing the card holder with access to
     sites which require a CSCS-affiliated card.

     In recognition of the increasing demand for ‘green’ electrical skills
     - including the installation of photovoltaic panels, solar thermal,
     ground and air source heat pumps and wind turbines - skilled
     ECS card holders will soon be able to display their renewable
     credentials on their card to demonstrate competence in
     environmental technologies.
                                                                              • Pensions. Thepension scheme. With assetsindustry-widethe Scheme
                                                                                              JIB provides a Trust-based,             defined
• The JIB Further Education Fund provides financial electrotechnical
  individuals who want to develop their skills in the
                                                      assistance to             contribution                              of c£200m,
                                                                                 is designed to be a low-cost, low administrative burden scheme
     industry. The training fund can assist employees of JIB companies,          enabling individuals to accumulate retirement funds in a tax-
     as well as apprentices at non-JIB member companies, to enhance              efficient manner in partnership with employers.
     their careers by extending their vocational education, benefiting           Organisations belonging to either the JIB or the ECA can
     not only themselves, but their employer and the industry that they          participate in the Scheme and extend membership to their
     serve. If an individual’s employer is an ECA member, they can also          workforces. Employers are required to pay a minimum contribution
     make an application on their behalf for full funding for certain            of 2.5% of member’s gross earnings, matching the member’s
     courses from the ECA’s training fund. Unite members can, in                 contribution.
     addition, apply for a bursary to support their studies.

     Since its inception, the JIB has helped fund the NVQ Level 3, BTEC
                                                                              • The JIB has appointed Capita Recruitment Vetting Serviceswho
                                                                                provide Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for people

     National Certificates, BSc/Foundation Degrees in Building Services,         need to work in establishments which house vulnerable people,
     HNCs, ONCs, the City & Guilds Level 3 in Process Technology and             such as schools, hospitals and care homes. Successful applicants are
     the City & Guilds Level 2 in CAD (2D). The application process is           given a photo-ID card to verify they are permitted to enter such
     very straightforward and full support is provided by the JIB staff.         properties.
     The application form can be downloaded from the JIB website.                Applicants benefit from an online processing system to allow for
•    The JIB runs an Adult Craft Training Scheme assisting non-
     qualified adults to achieve skilled status as an electrician through a
                                                                                 faster turnaround times and lower costs. The photo-ID card is an
                                                                                 optional extra and applicants can simply receive a formal letter
     flexible training route. The Adult Craft Training Scheme is not a           confirming CRB clearance if a card is not required.
     replacement for a formal apprenticeship but works alongside the
                                                                               For more information about the JIB please visit their website at
     JIB Apprentice Training Scheme to allow experienced but
                                                                      Further information on ECS cards can be found on
     unqualified operatives within the electrotechnical industry to
                                                                               the ECS website at
     achieve craft status.

14                                                                                                                  SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010

                                                Why did the RCD trip when I was
 Have you ever
 been asked...
                                                working on a circuit isolated by a
                                                single-pole device
Installers are sometimes puzzled by a problem that can arise
                                                                         Is the circuit incorrectly labelled or cross-wired? It must be ‘nuisance’
when working on a final circuit that has been isolated by                tripping,” he thinks, reducing his faith in RCDs.
means of a single-pole outgoing protective device (circuit-
                                                                         Of course, what happened was that, when the neutral touched the
breaker or fuse) in the consumer unit, such that only the line           protective conductor or other earthy item, this created a parallel path
conductor is isolated.                                                   for a proportion of any neutral current flowing in the other,
Typically, at some stage, the installer does one of the following:       unisolated, circuits. This current bypassed the current balance core of
                                                                         the RCD, causing the RCD to trip. Figure 1 shows an example of this
a. lets (or makes) the neutral and protective conductor of the circuit   where the neutral and protective conductor have touched.
   touch, such as by twisting them together to push the cable into
   the entry hole of an accessory box;                                   So it is not really ‘nuisance’ tripping in the normal sense of an
                                                                         accumulation of earth leakage current or a transient voltage spike.
b. lets the neutral conductor touch metalwork, such as a water pipe,     The only way to avoid the tripping problem is to work with the circuit
   that is connected to the main earthing terminal of the                isolated by a double-pole device, such as the main switch of the
   installation by a bonding conductor, or                               installation, or with the neutral of the final circuit disconnected at the
c. touches the neutral conductor with a hand.                            consumer unit.
                                                                         The issue described above is a problem particularly in TN systems.
The installer doesn't notice anything wrong, and maybe even finishes
                                                                         However, it could also occur in a TT system, if the earth electrode
off the connections, so that the neutral is no longer in contact with
                                                                         resistance is low enough to allow the tripping current of the RCD
any of the ‘earthy’ items in (a), (b) or (c). But, shortly afterwards,
                                                                         (perhaps as low as about 20 mA) to flow as a result of the small
someone complains about the TV or the fridge, for example,
                                                                         voltage that typically exists on the consumer unit neutral busbar due
going off.
                                                                         to voltage drop in the neutral conductor of the supply network. In
On investigating, the installer finds that the RCD protecting the        any event, it should be remembered that the isolation requirement
circuit has tripped. “Not me”, he (or she) cries; “what I was working    for a TT system is always that both the line and neutral conductors
on was isolated”. Then he starts to worry. “Did I do something wrong?    should be isolated (Regulation 537.2.1.1 refers).

  Figure 1 – Contact between neutral and protective conductor (cpc) of circuit being worked on creates parallel path for a part of
  neutral current flowing in other circuits (TN-C-S system shown).

Note. A modern consumer unit would normally have more than one set of busbars. Other sets are omitted for clarity

SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010                                                                                                               15

 ESC investigates consumer concerns over compact
 fluorescent lamps
Low energy compact fluorescent lamps have been available                  from a stated 11 W through to 25 W, with an equivalent range of 60
for several years and are now viewed by consumers as a viable             W through to 125 W when compared with traditional incandescent
alternative to the regular incandescent (tungsten filament)               lamps (see table below).
lamp. They are available in several different designs covering
                                                                          Product testing
common domestic installations, and consumers are being
encouraged to replace incandescent lamps with low energy                  Each lamp type was subjected to limited testing under the safety
compact fluorescent lamps, often as free, or heavily                      requirements standard for self-ballasted lamps, BS EN 60968: 2000.
discounted, promotional items.                                            Thermal endurance testing was also carried out under the general
                                                                          requirements standard for luminaires, BS EN 60598-1: 2008. Each
However, the Electrical Safety Council has received many enquiries
                                                                          lamp was tested in two luminaire types. The first being a
from consumers concerned about scorching and discolouration of
                                                                          commercially available bulkhead and the second, a ceiling-mounted
compact fluorescent lamps after relatively little usage as well as near
                                                                          pendant having a frosted glass shade.
or at the end of the lamp’s life. In some cases the overheating has
been perceived as serious, with one incident resulting in a small fire    After consideration of possible installation conditions, the test
contained within the lamp.                                                programme consisted of the following:

Also, the wide range of lamp wattages and their stated equivalent
wattage when compared with incandescent lamps is a cause of some          BS EN 60968: 2000
                                                                          • Visual inspection of marking requirements
Subsequent research carried out by the Council suggests that
particular installation conditions may be a contributory factor to the
                                                                          • Resistance to flame and ignition by application of glow wire
overheating of lamps. As part of the Council’s electrical product         • Single fault condition for eight-hour duration at 253 V
safety screening programme, it commissioned an independent
laboratory to carry out limited safety and thermal endurance testing      BS EN 60598-1: 2008
on a selection of commercially available low energy compact
fluorescent lamps.                                                        • Thermal testtemperature measurements recorded atrepeated at
                                                                            254 V with
                                                                                          under normal operation at 240 V and
Sample election                                                              locations
Six self-ballasted compact fluorescent lamps with a bayonet (B22)
lamp cap were randomly selected and purchased. The lamps ranged
                                                                          • Thermal endurance test foroff240 hours at 264 V, cycled 21 hour
                                                                            lamp on and 3 hour lamp

 Lamp design                                        Stated wattage             Equivalent incandescent                Expected lifetime
                                                                                    lamp wattage                          in hours

 Candle with inner spiral tube                            11 W                            60 W                               8,000
 Traditional lamp with inner spiral tube                  15 W                            70 W                               6,000
 Multi straight tubes                                     15 W                            75 W                               10,000
 Multi straight tubes                                     20 W                           100 W                               10,000
 Spiral tube                                              20 W                           100 W                               8,000
 Spiral tube                                              25 W                           125 W                               10,000

16                                                                                                               SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010

Product testing results                                                 Conclusions
Two of the lamps failed to provide adequate markings including the      The thermal endurance testing, particularly in the bulkhead luminaire,
absence of standard details on the lamp packaging. Of particular        was an attempt to simulate the worst case installation that might
concern was the absence of the rated wattage.                           lead to the reported overheating incidents. Discolouration of the
                                                                        lamp’s plastic moulding was apparent yet the lamps appeared to
A single fault involving a broken cathode was applied to each lamp.
                                                                        remain safe even until their eventual failure in operation.
This fault is typically associated with an increased operating
temperature resulting in potential overheating and deformation of       Thermal testing under normal operating conditions resulted in no
the plastic moulding containing the ballast. Each lamp passed this      obvious signs of discolouration and recorded temperatures were
fault condition test with no signs of enclosure discolouration or the   within standard limits. No signs of overheating were reported for
emission of hazardous substances.                                       either luminaire during the testing programme.
The lamp mouldings were also subjected to a glow wire test to           Nevertheless, the findings of the limited testing reveal significant
determine the material’s resistance to flame and ignition. All six      variations in the stated operational lifetime in hours. In one case a
lamps passed this test, which suggests that each lamp moulding          lamp did not operate when switched on for the first time. In many
material would have been suitably resistant to such conditions if       cases lamps failed to operate after less than two hours under thermal
overheating had occurred.                                               endurance conditions. It is accepted that the testing places the lamps
                                                                        under stress, but the results suggest a potential quality and reliability
Two of the four lamps installed in the bulkhead luminaire failed to
                                                                        concern particularly when the average claimed lifetime is 9,000
achieve the thermal endurance test period of 240 hours. Replacement
lamp samples are permitted during this testing and in some cases the
replacement lamps lasted less than two hours before failing in a safe   Enquiries received through the ESC helpline suggest that there is
condition. In one case a lamp sample failed to start when first         some confusion as to whether the rated wattage of a compact
switched on and only one lamp type completed the test period            fluorescent lamp, or its equivalent (incandescent lamp) wattage,
without the need for a replacement sample. In most cases                should be considered when selecting a lamp so that it does not
discolouration of the plastic moulding was apparent with the worst      exceed the maximum rating of a lampholder.
examples shown in Figures 1 and 2. No damage was observed to the
                                                                        The equivalent wattage is based on lumens, or the measurement of
bulkhead luminaire throughout the entire thermal endurance testing
                                                                        how much light the lamp produces, and is provided on lamp
                                                                        packaging solely to indicate the equivalent light output of a compact
In contrast, each lamp type achieved the required thermal endurance     fluorescent lamp compared with an incandescent lamp. Therefore, the
test period when installed in the pendant and glass shade. Slight       wattage rating of the compact fluorescent lamp, not its ‘equivalent’
browning of the plastic moulding was apparent in some cases but not     rating, should be used to ensure that the maximum wattage rating of
as severe as that observed during the equivalent bulkhead luminaire     the lampholder is not exceeded.
testing. Again, no damage was observed for the pendant and glass
                                                                        As with all safety investigations, we will continue to monitor
shade throughout the entire thermal endurance testing period.
                                                                        identified failures and commission further research and testing where
All of the lamp types passed the thermal test under normal operating    appropriate.
conditions in each luminaire. Thermocouples were positioned at
                                                                        A copy of the test report is available in the ‘business and community’
various points in and around the installation and all recorded
                                                                        section of the Council’s website
temperatures were within standard limits.

         Figures 1 and 2: Examples of discolouration of plastic moulding under test.

SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010                                                                                                             17

  Assessing the maximum demand of a domestic
  electrical installation
Maximum demand is one of
the general characteristics of
                                        appropriate diversity could lead
                                        to a new electricity supply being
                                                                               number of socket-outlets but on
                                                                               the particular items of current-
                                                                                                                  • onjudgmental approach based
                                                                                                                       engineering knowledge and
an electrical installation that         oversized or an existing electricity   using equipment connected to          experience.
Part 3 of BS 7671 requires to           supply being deemed inadequate.        them and simultaneously in use.    The use of other methods by a
be assessed.We give some                Furthermore, the economic                                                 competent electrical installation
                                                                               Estimating demand
guidance on assessing the               design of an installation almost                                          designer is not precluded by
maximum demand for an                   always means that diversity must       A variety of methods exist that
                                                                                                                  BS 7671. Whatever method is
installation of an individual           be taken into account.                 can be used for estimating the
                                                                                                                  used, the estimate will be
domestic dwelling.                                                             maximum demand for a dwelling.
                                        For example, to comply with                                               approximate in most cases.
                                                                               One example is the method
The requirement to assess the           Regulation 553.1.7, an adequate
                                                                               described in Appendix H of IEE     IEE Guidance Note 1
maximum demand for an                   number of suitably positioned
                                                                               Guidance Note 1 – Selection and    The method described in IEE
installation is given in Regulation     socket-outlets are needed for
                                                                               Erection. Another example is the   Guidance Note 1 uses the
311.1 of BS 7671. The main              mobile electrical equipment.
                                                                               method given in IEC document       information in Table H2 of that
purpose of the assessment is to         Without allowing for diversity, a
                                                                               64(Secretariat)254, the use of     publication for estimating the
help determine the rated current        circuit having (say) fifteen 13 A
                                                                               which is explained in the IEE      maximum demand for the
capacity required for the supply        socket-outlets would have a
                                                                               Electrical Installation Design     distribution circuit supplying all of
of electricity to the installation.     potential load of approximately
                                                                               Guide, Section 3.5.                the circuits of an installation.
To assess maximum demand,               195 A. This is unrealistically large
                                        and exceeds the rated current          We will look at the use of the     Information from Table H2,
sufficient information is needed
                                        capacity of the supply typically       following two methods to           applicable to an individual
about the connected load, how
                                        provided (60, 80 or 100 A).            calculate the maximum demand.      household, is reproduced in Table
the installation is likely to be used
and any allowances for diversity        In practice, the load on the           • Appendix H ofdescribed in
                                                                                 The method
                                                                                               IEE Guidance
                                                                                                                  1 for ease of reference.
                                                                                                                  The allowances for diversity in
that may be applied.                    socket-outlet circuits of a
                                        dwelling does not depend on the           Note 1 – Selection and          Table 1 can only be a guide. They
Failure to allow for the
                                                                                  Erection                        may need to be increased or
Table 1: Allowance for diversity to be applied to an individual household installation, including an              decreased by the electrical
individual dwelling in a block                                                                                    installation designer, depending
                                                                                                                  on the particular circumstances.
                                                                                                                  Suppose that the electrical
                                                                                                                  installation is to have a single-
                                                                                                                  phase supply, provided by the
                                                                                                                  electricity distributor, with
                                                                                                                  nominal voltage 230 V and rated
                                                                                                                  current capacity 100 A.
                                                                                                                  The maximum demand of the
                                                                                                                  installation is to be calculated
                                                                                                                  using the method described in IEE
                                                                                                                  Guidance Note 1, Table H, in order
                                                                                                                  to establish whether the
                                                                                                                  proposed 100 A capacity of the
                                                                                                                  supply will be adequate.

                                                                                                                  Table 2 details the current-using
                                                                                                                  equipment and socket-outlet
                                                                                                                  circuits of the installation and the
                                                                                                                  associated values of connected
                                                                                                                  load. Also shown in Table 2 is the
                                                                                                                  application of demand factors
                                                                                                                  taken directly from Table 1. The
                                                                                                                  calculation of the maximum
                                                                                                                  demand for the installation, using
                                                                                                                  these demand factors, is shown in
                                                                                                                  column 6.
                                                                                                                  As can be seen from column 6,
                                                                                                                  the calculated maximum demand

18                                                                                                                 SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010

is just under 116 A. Therefore, on
the basis of the method of
                                          • the seasonalcooling loads
                                            heating and
                                                         demands of                 public electricity network, it is
                                                                                    reasonable to take the average of
                                                                                                                              that the installation designer
                                                                                                                              makes must be based on his or
calculation described in IEE
Guidance Note 1, without any
                                          • the allowance,(must be agreed
                                            load capacity
                                                           if any, for spare        the maximum demand occurring
                                                                                    over a 15-minute period. This is
                                                                                                                              her own judgment, taking account
                                                                                                                              of the circumstances applying to
modification to the demand                   with the client).                      because the service cable, service        the installation.
factors, it appears that the                                                        cut-out fuse and distribution             The calculation of the maximum
proposed 100 A capacity of the            The designer may consider, for            circuit cable (meter tails) take a        demand for the installation,
supply will not be adequate.              example, that the following               certain amount of time to be              taking account of the allowances
                                          allowances for diversity, which are       heated up by the load current,
Judgmental approach                                                                                                           for diversity described above for
                                          different from those used in the          and there will be negligible              the socket-outlets and electric
The installation designer may             method described in IEE Guidance          additional heating effects on the         shower, is given in column 8 of
instead wish to make an                   Note 1 (and shown in Table 1 of           source of supply (the distribution        Table 2, where it will be seen that
assessment of maximum demand              this article), may be made with           transformer) due to the peak              the calculated maximum demand
by applying engineering                   regard to socket-outlets and the          maximum demand in the                     is just under 87 A.
judgment. In this example,                electric shower.                          installation within a 15-minute
judgment is applied to the same                                                                                               Therefore, on the basis of this
installation as described in the          Socket-outlets. Assume that both                                                    alternative method of calculation,
                                          ring final circuits will have similar      As the shower is unlikely to be          the proposed 100 A capacity of
previous example.
                                          operating profiles, such that a           used for more than (say) 12               the supply can be expected to be
To make an engineering                    demand factor of 40 % could               minutes in a given 15-minute              adequate for the installation.
judgment, the designer will need          reasonably be applied to both             period, it is reasonable to apply a
to understand:                            circuits, to find the overall             demand factor of 80 %
• the operating time profile of
  the loads
                                          maximum demand of the
                                                                                    (12/15ths) to the connected load
                                                                                    of the electric shower.
                                                                                                                               Guidance on assessing the other
                                                                                                                               general characteristics for this
                                                                                                                               type of installation was given in
• the coincidence or of
  simultaneous operation
                                          Electric shower. For the purpose
                                          of assessing the maximum
                                                                                    The allowances for diversity in
                                                                                    this example are illustrative only
                                                                                                                               an article on pages 16 and 17
                                                                                                                               of Issue 18 of Switched On
   individual loads with other            demand of a household electrical          and must be treated with some              (Autumn 2010).
   loads                                  installation supplied from the            reservation. The actual allowances

 Table 2: Calculation of the maximum demand by applying demand factors to connected loads of individual final circuits

Notes to Table 2:
1 The demand factors used in the table do not apply where the source of supply is a generator, such as a standby diesel-or-petrol-engine-driven generator
2 The current demand associated with the socket-outlet final circuits, to which diversity factors should be applied in order to estimate the maximum demand of
the installation, is the nominal current (In) of the circuit protective device.

SwitchedOn Issue 19 - Winter 2010                                                                                                                                19
 Working in partnership with the Safety Centre, Milton                  The talks were delivered, using presentation slides and other visual
 Keynes, the Electrical Safety Council funded and supported             aids; including plug-in RCDs and 4-way bar adaptors. The children
 100 talks to primary level schools in the Hertfordshire,               were also shown examples of burnt out coiled extension leads and
 Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire areas.                                other damaged appliances to emphasise what can happen when
                                                                        things go wrong. Pupils were given copies of the Electrical Safety
 The main objective of the talks was to educate children on how to
                                                                        Council’s Education Fun Pack in addition to posters and work
 keep themselves safe around electricity by raising their awareness
                                                                        sheets covering the related safety messages and were made aware
 of the hazards that electricity can pose, so that they can recognise
                                                                        of the website dedicated to teachers, parents and children. To visit
 the dangers, are able to assess the risks and take action to reduce
                                                                        the website go to:
 harm to themselves as they go about their everyday lives.
                                                                        Feedback on the talks from schools has been positive and
 The talks were specifically designed to complement the National
                                                                        evaluation of the initiative indicated that the talks have been well
 Curriculum at Key Stages 2 and 3 and were offered to pupils in
                                                                        received, including interest to participate again should the
 years 3 and 6 to run in conjunction with the relevant key stage
                                                                        opportunity arise. A school in Luton said: “This session supported
 level education.
                                                                        the work in PSHE on safety” and another in High Wycombe said:
 The primary safety messages provided within the talks focused on       “It has made the children aware of many potential dangers. The
 providing guidance in relation to safety in the home and covered a     follow up material is very useful and will help the children to
 number of important safety aspects (see below right).                  remember the messages given during the talk”.

                                                                         • Never to overload sockets by plugging tooadaptorelectrical
                                                                           appliances into one socket when using an

                                                                         • Never to put drinks on, equipment. This could cause a fire
                                                                           electrical appliances or
                                                                                                    or have any liquid near to,

                                                                            if the liquid spills onto the equipment

                                                                         • Never toistry toplugged in out of the toaster whilst the
                                                                           toaster still
                                                                                             get toast

                                                                         • Not hairtake electricalthe bathroom, as itasisplug-indangerous
                                                                                    dryers, into
                                                                                                   appliances, such

                                                                            and could cause electrocution

                                                                         • To alwaysnot in off electronicyou go to bed
                                                                           they are
                                                                                           use or when
                                                                                                          games and equipment when

                                                                         • To always dry yourequipment or you
                                                                           use any electrical
                                                                                                hands before you

                                                                            could get an electric shock

                                                                            If you would like to receive copies
                                                                            of the Electrical Safety Council’s
                                                                            Educational Fun Pack, email

                                                                         All the previous issues of Switched On are available to read or
BACK ISSUES OF SWITCHED ON                                               download from the ‘Business & Community’ section of our website.


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