Exploring the 18th Edition

NAPIT’s Chief Technical Officer, Frank Bertie, looks at some of the main changes being brought in by the new edition of the Wiring Regulations, and explains why it’s important to get trained to the new standard.

From the moment Amendment 3 of the 17th Edition of the Wiring Regulations came into force, work has been taking place to shape the brand-new 18th Edition. We finally saw the result of this in July, giving us all six months to get up-to-speed with the changes before they are officially brought in for the start of 2019.

By the time BS 7671:2018 takes over as the standard for electrical installations, it will only be three-and-a-half years since the introduction of Amendment 3. Some may question exactly why a comprehensive update is already required, but the electrical industry is a fast-moving field. Low-carbon technology has already started to play a much bigger part in our lives and is set to be even more important in the coming years, so it was important for guidance to reflect this. Several of the changes to the regulations will also help to make electrical installations safer. Ensuring safety standards are as high as they can possibly be is one of the main reasons that NAPIT exists at all. It is why we insist that each operative who works for a NAPIT-registered company is assessed in order to prove their ongoing competence, and it explains why we are so delighted that our campaign for electrical inspection and testing to be made mandatory in the Private Rented Sector has been successful. Ongoing competence is about more than just proving you can work to the standards you met when you first qualified as an electrician – it is also about showing that you are keeping pace with new technologies and new requirements as they evolve within the industry.

A significant number of the new passages in the Regulations have been included with increased safety in mind. Government fire statistics show that almost 8,000 fires each year in England originate in a property’s electrical distribution system[1] – a number which has remained largely stable since 2011. The recommended installation of Arc Fault Detection Devices is one of the measures designed to reduce this number. These devices are designed to trip when dangerous electric arcs are detected and are being recommended in locations where the risk of fire is high. Meanwhile, some other changes are intended to improve the safety of a building once fire has broken out. Regulation 521.10.202 states that all wiring systems now need to be supported to stop them collapsing prematurely in a fire. Amendment 3 of the 17th Edition introduced a requirement for cables in escape routes to be supported, but this new regulation now applies to all cables to remove any confusion over the definition of an escape route. This is intended to further aid the safety of those in a building where fire has broken out.

Over the lifetime of this edition of the Regulations, major shifts are expected in the way that we power our cars. With the Government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles just over 20 years away, the ultra-low emission vehicle market is sure to grow. Electric vehicles look set to spearhead this change, so Section 722 of the Regulations introduces changes to the existing requirements for the supplies to these vehicles.

Depending on the work you undertake, the introduction of the 18th Edition could require you to comprehensively update your working practices. To help you understand the changes, we will be heading out on the road this autumn to talk you through them and to answer your questions. We will use our experience from sitting on the JPEL/64 committees to give expert advice on the changes, and to discuss how they may affect you when carrying out electrical work. Once you feel ready to get your new qualification, you’ll be able to take a course with Premier Training Academy at one of over 20 locations nationwide. Find out more about our 18th Edition Roadshow here, and search for your nearest training location here.

The next few months are going to require some hard work for all of us, regardless of how much experience we have, in order to make sure that we are 18th Edition ready. We all need to make sure that we keep up with the pace of change so that we can continue to lead by example and set high standards for the industry.

Find out more about the changes being made to the Regulations for the 18th Edition here.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/650776/fire-statistics-data-tables-fire0602.xlsx

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