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Collaborative working for electrical safety - ESC Part P Round Table

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) recently hosted a round- table event to discuss the government's review of Part P of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which concerns electrical safety in dwellings. "What was particularly pleasing about the event was the general consensus established in relation to the need to retain Part P - although concerns about compliance, in particular, were noted", explains Phil Buckle, Director General of the ESC.

Phil Buckle

The event, which was facilitated by Ann Robinson of uSwitch, was established by the ESC to gain the views of a range of interested parties and to discuss how to create a strong evidence base to help assess the impact of Part P and show its relevance to both consumer safety and industry standards.

Delegates attending the event represented various electrical and related trade bodies, as well as the consumer watchdog 'Which? 'magazine, the Trading Standards Institute and the Chief Fire Officers Association. Presentations were made by a representative from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), who outlined the government's review process; and Phil Buckle, who summarised Part P requirements and reviewed the current evidence base relating to electrical injuries, deaths and fires in UK homes.

Among the key issues discussed at the event were how best to tighten the enforcement and compliance elements of Part P, while reducing the regulatory burden in terms of time and money. One delegate summed up their approach to the issue by stating: "Taxation is a subscription to a fair society. Regulation is a subscription to a safe society". The need to clarify and simplify documentation and increase the awareness of both consumers and electrical contractors to the benefits of Part P was also highlighted.

"The ESC's core concern is consumer safety", adds Phil Buckle. "As it stands, Part P provides the only regulatory framework that addresses the safety of electrical installation work in homes in England and Wales. We need to reduce the complexities of Part P without compromising safety. Appropriate streamlining of Part P should also help scheme operators in relation to compliance. And we need more research to provide hard evidence to show Part P's real benefits - which can range from householder protection and consumer care, to improved contractor skills and the sustainability of buildings."

Outcomes from the event include the proposed establishment of a working group, drawing on those attending the event, to help source Part P impact assessment material for submission to the DCLG's review. The ESC is currently looking at ways in which to gather the views of interested parties to feed into this assessment process.

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