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Jargon Busted – Wiring Regulations BS7671

Here’s a question for you: What’s the only thing more exciting than your team winning the cup the same week you win the lottery? Answer: Wiring regulations!

Joking aside: even electricians who dream of electric sheep (extra brownie points to anyone who recognises the book/ movie reference here) might struggle to get excited about new wiring regulations coming in. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important: in fact, they can be life saving.

Every company hiring an electrical contractor should check that they are up to speed with new legislation – it’s not enough to say that they are qualified if they haven’t kept themselves informed about changes relating to electrical safety.

What are Wiring Regulations BS7671?

Wiring Regulations BS7671 are the industry standard for electrical installation in the UK. They were set by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the British Standards Institution (BSI), authorities on electrical installation.

The ‘Regs’ as they are commonly known, are used for electrical wiring in everything from domestic homes to shops, public buildings, offices and factories.

What has this got to do with Trinidad and Tobago?

Believe it or not, the BS7671 standard is also used in other countries across the world, from Sri Lanka to Sierra Leone and from Cyprus to Trinidad and Tobago. Similar standards have been adopted on mainland Europe.

When did the changes come in and who are they for?

The 17th edition of BS7671 was introduced in January 2008 and relates to all installations following 1 July of that year. Since then there have been three Amendments: the first two were introduced in 2011 and 2013.

Amendment 3:2015, was published in January 2015 and will come into effect on 1 July 2015. This means that electrical engineers have a six-month transition period to get up to speed with the new regs.

The exception is Regulation 421.1.201 (Protection against fire caused by electrical equipment), which won’t come into full effect until 1 January 2016, as it relates to fire safety casings and it will take time for these to be manufactured.

Amendment 3 affects everyone working in the industry and is an important element in ensuring the safety of electrical engineers, contractors they work with and the clients they work for.

What are the changes?

Here’s an overview of the major changes:

  •  Sockets for general use must have 30mA RCDs to reduce the chance of electric shock.
  •  Consumer units and similar switchgear should have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material or be housed in a cabinet made of non-combustible material (to come into effect January 2016)
  • A new regulation on the methods of support for wiring in escape routes
  • Changes to earth fault loop impedances for all protective devices
  • Updated EIC (Electrical Installation Certificate) and EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) forms

Where can sparkies find out more detail?

The IET and BSI websites have further information. There’s also a paperback book with the snappy title: IET Wiring Regulations (BS7671:2008 Incorporating Amendment Number 3:2015) (Guidance Note).

However, be aware that the price tag doesn’t leave you much change from 80 quid, leading to online reviews such as: ‘at least Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask’...

Conclusion

The Wiring Regulations – and the recent Amendments – are there for your safety. Any electrical contractor worth their salt will be aware of these changes and will ensure that they adhere to legal requirements when working at your site.

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