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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Crackdown on faulty home electrics
An electric plug
DIY enthusiasts could have their work checked
The government has launched proposals aimed at curbing a rising number of electrical accidents in the home.

Each year an average of 10 people die and 756 are seriously injured in accidents involving unsafe fixed electrical installations and appliances in the home.

Under current rules, electrical jobs carried out by DIY enthusiasts in the home should be done to an agreed safety standard, but no checks are made to ensure that the person has complied with the rules.

The government is also concerned that up to 100,000 electricians are not members of regulatory bodies, who guarantee standards.

The Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) said it planned to bring electrical safety within the scope of Building Regulations for the first time.

Self-regulation doubts

For years the government has been concerned about the high level of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty gas appliances and poor installation, but it is now turning its attention to electricity-related accidents and deaths.

The incidence of electrical casualties (both fatal and non-fatal) at work and in the home is much higher in the UK than in a number of other European countries, and the government feels that greater regulation may help.

There are 106,000 qualified electricians in the UK, but only 13,000 are registered in any of the voluntary schemes run by industry bodies, according to DTLR figures.

Yet each year 2.8 million wiring installations are formally undertaken by electricians, while an additional 1 million are carried out by DIY enthusiasts.

DIY checks?

For minor work, such as replacement of accessories such as socket-outlets and ceiling roses, the DTLR is proposing greater adherence to approved DIY manuals.

But people who carry out major electrical work, such as re-wiring within their homes, will have to notify their local authority and the work will be subject to an inspection.

Non-compliance with the Building Regulations is an offence and could be subject to prosecution by the local authority and a fine.

However, DTLR said that at DIY case would more likely result in a local authority requiring the non-compliant work to be put right.

"Fixed electrical installations in the UK are some of the safest systems in the world where they are properly designed, installed and tested to BS7671 (the IEE Wiring Regulations), " said Dr Alf Roberts, chief executive of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

"Unfortunately not all domestic installations comply with these standards," he added.

"Moreover as existing installations built to older standards, or work undertaken by unqualified electricians or DIY enthusiasts are identified, the UK housing stock will steadily be brought to a safer standard as a direct result of these controls."

See also:

02 Oct 01 | Business
15 May 02 | Business
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