One of the chief complaints of many in the industry is that there is a lack of boots on the ground when it comes to policing and checking who is actually doing electrical commercial and industrial installation work.  Even established electrical contractors can assume or be duped into thinking that their direct employees and supply chain subbie’s are suitably qualified and experienced.

The Regulations

In the UK there is a statutory requirement for electricians to be competent for the work they carrying out. The Electricity at Work Regulations (EAWR) specifically, Regulation 16 of EAWR states that:  “No person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or, where appropriate, injury, unless he possesses such knowledge or experience, or is under such a degree of supervision as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work.”  Low bid and sub economic tendering has put pressure on the industry to cut costs.  A growing lack of skilled workers has also added to the burden of difficulty across the industry.  As a result, many electrical contractors are increasingly being forced to rely on an industry supply chain that carries under-qualified, unqualified and self-designated electrical workers.  Part of our public interest and service obligations is to audit and report on how Main Contractors and the appointed Electrical Contractor/s achieve compliance with the requirements of PGN01/16. To achieve this we first examine the systems online data to ascertain the composition of the declared electrical workforce. We then arrange to visit the main contractor’s representative on the project to determine and validate the extent of compliance.

Pass Fail Outcomes

A pass fail audit report with recommendations and/or commendations is forwarded directly to the Client following the audit.  Recurring unsatisfactory audit reports may lead to quality improvement notices or possible sanctions being recorded and imposed against failing main contractors.  Our obligations also commit us to undertaking 100% auditing of all current projects.

Workforce Ratio Guidance

Audit reports provide clients with an opportunity to observe that some contractors rely on a disproportionate number of restricted electrical workers for complex electrical installation and maintenance work.  The use of restricted workers in the industry is an acceptable and operational necessity.  Productivity and costs must be matched to the nature of the work and not all electrical work requires a complement of fully qualified electricians.  Nevertheless, client organisations expect the industry to act responsibly when compiling and assigning electrical workers to projects.  Further guidance on workforce ratios can be found on the SparkSafe website.

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