The 18th Edition is almost upon us and the expected furore that was predicted has been met in the main by confusion and indifference, with many asking what the real purpose of the change is all about. To some it is seen as a money-making exercise, after all, replacing all those copies of BS 7671 and the accompanying Guidance Notes doesn’t come cheap, whilst to others it is seen as the UK preparing for Brexit. In truth it is neither of the above, although the issue of a new edition of BS 7671 will require the acquisition of new publications that has a cost element. BS 7671 is constantly being updated and the current Edition BS 7671:2008 its third and final amendment in 2015.
Technical standards and product innovation has developed at such a rate that the only practical solution is to issue an entire new edition. For those who believe it is in relation to the UK leaving the European Union, this also could not be any further from the truth and in fact BS 7671:2018 will be closely aligned to the standards applied across Europe and aligned to International principals. Brexit is unlikely to result in any significant changes to the UK Wiring Regulations, at least in the short-term. The cost of training is also another area identified by many as an additional burden brought about by the introduction of BS 7671:2018. It is worth noting that to date neither the Joint Industry Board (JIB), who operate the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme, nor the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installations Contracting have stated any requirements for those who currently hold a 17th Edition qualification to upgrade to the 18th Edition, and it is likely that it will be around 12 months before such requirements are implemented.
From July until December 2018 City and Guilds will be offering the 2382 Level 3 Award in the Requirements for Electrical Installations for both 17th Edition and 18th Edition. It is important to verify which award your training provider will be entering you for. For those who are conversant with BS 7671:2008+A3:2015 or have recently passed the 2382-15 Award, City and Guilds recommend attending a short-duration update course before attempting the examination.
Only those who require an understanding of the format and the requirement of the Wiring Regulations need attend the full course. Just to clarify that BS 7671:2018 will come into force at the beginning of July 2018 and will run concurrent to BS 7671:2008+A3:2015. During this time electrical installations may be designed, installed, inspected and tested to either version of BS 7671, although it is not permitted to apply aspects from both Editions simultaneously. From the 1st January 2019 BS 7671:2008+A3:2015 will be repealed and all design, installation, inspection and testing must comply with BS 7671:2018.
So what about competence? Looking at Regulation 16 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, there is a requirement for those working on or so near an electrical installation that danger might exist have the necessary knowledge, and/or appropriate experience to avoid such danger whilst at work. The changes introduced by BS 7671:2018 are likely to have the biggest impact on those responsible for designing electrical installations and those involved in the commissioning and verification process. Those who undertake installation work are unlikely to see any significant changes initially with the introduction of the 18th Edition with Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs) and 20A RCD’s making a gradual entry to the UK market. There will be more clarification on the requirements for Main Protective Bonding (formerly Equipotential Bonding), particularly with regards to pipework fitted with insulating sections. The supporting of wiring systems against premature collapse might, however, cause a little concern until the market catches up with affordable and innovative solutions. Those who need to demonstrate that they have an understanding on the Requirements of Electrical Installations, and those who are responsible for design and commissioning are likely to wish to train to the latest Edition of BS 7671. For those who over the next 6 months are taking assessments in courses aligned to BS 7671 such as the 2396 Design and Verification Level 4 Award or the 2391 Level 3 Award series inspection and testing suite will be pleased to note that City and Guilds will be making examination questions ‘Edition neutral’, that is, they will not be asking any questions where there is a discrepancy between BS 7671:2008+A3:2015 and BS 7671:2018. Change within BS 7671 is nothing new and the timing of the current re-write is consistent with what has happened in the past. Whilst the convention of the colour used on the sleeve of BS 7671:2018 might depart with tradition (usually the new edition is coloured Red, the 18th edition will start with blue), the remainder of the publication remains true to its origins. There is no need for panic, and with a little forethought the introduction of BS 7671:2018 need not be a burden. Andy Linley has worked within the electrical sector for over 30 years and has a wealth of installation, maintenance and compliance experience related to both the commercial and industrial sector, both in Low Voltage and High Voltage systems. Andy is currently the Head of Training at Electrical Safety UK Ltd as well as both the Compliance Director and the Director Responsible for Health and Safety. Andy is a member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Institution for Engineering and Technology (IET).
**Stop Press The JIB who operate the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) have today (20th June) advised that anyone wishing to apply for a Gold Card or renew an existing Gold Card will need to hold an 18th Edition Card from July 2019. Andrew P. Linley Compliance Director Electrical Safety UK