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Repeal or Modify Part P of the Building Regs

2 Comments 5th August 2010

Either repeal Part P altogether or ( if the vested interests need to be placated) reduce the red tape load on local councils and restrictions on personal freedom by

1 permitting individuals to carry out electrical work in their own home
AND
2 maintaining registers ( by the contractor's organisations) of persons qualified to be employed or trade for electrical installation work.

In both cases, electrical installation work would not be notified to the council.
 

Why does this matter?

The Part P of the Building Regulations (and associated competent persons scheme) was introduced in 2005 in England and Wales; I think it is questionable whether any measurable improvement in safety in the home has resulted. However, it has generated a lot of red tape and a bureaucratic system consumptive of council and other resources. I have limited my comments.

My personal freedom
I am a chartered electrical engineer who worked in the electrical industry all my life; I have a professional interest in maintaining currency with the Wiring Regulations ( BS 7671;2008) and own test equipment. Part P requires me to notify the council's building control department ( with a fee of £120) should I wish to carry out certain electrical work in my own house.
Financially, Part P forces me to employ a registered competent person ( eg NICEIC contractor); this is somebody who is certainly less qualified than myself on whom I would be taking a gamble on whether the quality of the work would be as good as my own or how competent they actually are. ( In the past I have experienced CORGI/Gassafe technicians who condemned a healthy gas boiler and FENSA double glazing that is draughty – so have doubts about competent person schemes in general )
Hence, I get no benefit from Part P the scheme but break the law if I do not comply. Yet this applies to work WITHIN MY OWN HOME where only I and my family are at risk, and I have more concern for the safety of my family than an electrical contractor.

How many lives have been saved by Part P ?
The O.N.S. web sites show the nos of persons electrocuted ( in brackets) in England and Wales by year as follows 2002 (24), 2006 (21), 2007 (24), 2008 (17). Part P was introduced in 2005 and revised in 2006
1 The above figures include those killed in work places ( outside the scope of Part P). ROSPA quote a figure for electrocutions in the workplace in 2002 of (15).( I haven't seen figures for other years).. Therefore, about 50% only of the electrocutions would appear to be in the home and the introduction of Part P does not appear to have resulted in a sudden reduction in these deaths.
2 Some electrocutions would have resulted from people being fool hardy with electricity ( eg repairing electrical apparatus whilst live, unsafe electrical apparatus, damaging power cables). The latest version of the Wiring Regulations introduced in 2007/8 requires the wider use of rcds which would afford a measure of protection to the foolhardy – possibly why 2008 electrocution figures indicate a reduction. Consumer units with rcds fitted are now more commonly available; this is a consequence of the latest Wiring Regulations as much as Part P and the competent person schemes.

I estimate that Part P may save 2 or 3 people a year at best; in comparison 4 persons were killed by dogs, 8 people died in canoe/kayak incidents, and 96 died in falls involving beds in 2008.

The financial cost of Part P to England and Wales
There are no data on the cost to the nation of complying with Part P. However, it places a burden on Councils to enforce compliance with Part P and generates cohorts of inspectors/trainers to check competence of craftsmen. It is just another overhead
In addition the contractors associations that run the registration schemes for installers have expanded; obviously they now have vested interests in maintaining the status quo and generating business for their members and will use the “safety” and “competence” arguments to justify the existence of Part P.
 

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2 Responses to Repeal or Modify Part P of the Building Regs

  1. JayR says:

    Some random thoughts.

    Are no figures available for fires, pre and post Part P, that are judged to have been caused by faulty electrical installations?

    So far as I have been able to discover there was no statistical basis established as an argument for the need for Part P, or have I not researched deeply enough.

    have there been any instances of insurance companies refusing to consider claims arising from electrical accidents/damage in the home because of none Part P compliance?

    On balance Part P seems to have created a closed shop for domestic electrical installers. If this was the intention then the scheme must be considered a success.

  2. Quentin says:

    There are thousands of examples of old, sub-standard wiring in homes in this country. In years gone by the owners would have completed the rewiring themselves and made the installation safe, whereas today they won’t do it themselves because of fear of the law and cannot afford the expense of an electrician. Part P needs to be repealed.

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