Qualifications do not automatically equate to competence

The Electrical Safety Roundtable’s first Virtual Conference, entitled: ‘Shining a Spotlight on Initiatives Impacting Electrical Safety in Homes and Workplaces’ took place on Wednesday 12th May and heard from a wide range of high-profile professionals throughout the day. With nearly 200 registrants, the event appealed to a large number of industry professionals with an interest in electrical safety from Local Authorities, Electrical Contracting Companies, Estate and Lettings Agents, Industry Bodies, Electrical Equipment Manufacturers, Housing Associations, Government Officials, Insurance providers and more.

A recurring message throughout the day was that qualifications do not automatically equate to competence within any industry – and that consideration should be given to how to verify the competence of those undertaking work without purely focusing on qualifications. Presentations from Clive Betts MP and Lorna Stimpson, Chief Executive of LABC, about the draft Building Safety Bill and the impact this Bill will have on Building Safety kick-started this theme. Lorna drew synergies between the steps taken to introduce registration and oversight for building control officers which were echoed by David Cowburn, Chief Operating Officer of NAPIT, who explained the recent changes taken by the electrical industry to improve the supervision of those undertaking electrical work, the evidence of competence for any employed persons under supervision and the changes to the qualification requirements for those applying to be registered.

Updates on the industry campaign to enhance electrical safety in the Social Housing Sector were well received with Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, giving an overview of the recent report they have produced on this subject. The main take away message from the expert social housing panellists was that access to undertake necessary electrical inspections and remedial work is the number one barrier to enhancing electrical safety in this sector.

The importance of managing electrical safety in the workplace and being aware of the risks associated with electricity was brought home by an insightful and evocative presentation from Paul Meenan who was thanked by attendees for shining a spotlight on these issues. Finally, commitment to producing a review into the impact on electrical safety in the Private Rented Sector, following the introduction of the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (2020) England Regulations was given by Luke Spanton, MHCLG, following an update on the Regulations.

Mike Andrews, Chief Executive of NAPIT: ‘As a UKAS accredited, Government authorised Competent Person Scheme with over 13,000 registered electrical companies we have a strong history of campaigning to improve electrical safety standards throughout the industry and we invest heavily in supporting advancements in this area. I could not agree more with the take home message from the Virtual Conference that qualifications do not equate to competence. Third party accreditation including regular on-site technical assessments and required CPD are key to demonstrating competence. Our commitment to the Electrical Safety Roundtable is something that I am very proud of, and we will continue to provide support to this important stakeholder forum whilst ever there is scope to enhance electrical safety.’

Simon Wood, Business Development Manager – Electrical Market EMEA at Megger: ‘Megger were very pleased to be able to support the Electrical Safety Roundtables first Virtual Conference. It provided a brilliant forum to explore current initiatives being considered and those recently introduced to improve electrical safety, through a broad and varied speaker line up. We look forward to continuing to engage with the Electrical Safety Roundtable and support the work they are doing to enhance safety electrical standards.’

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