SparkSafe and the JIB
There are reportedly around two hundred and fifty thousand electrical workers in the UK. The majority of these workers practice electrical installation and maintenance work with a sub 17th Edition Qualifications. And around 40% of electricians who are registered with the industry’s leading gatekeeping organisation continue to operate throughout the UK with unaccredited knowledge of the current IET Wiring Requirements.
In real terms, this means that there are tens of thousands of electrical workers in the construction industry supply chain that are underqualified or not up to date with a British Standard 7671 qualification. The position of the industry on this matter has been obscured to many clients over the period, and this must surely bring into question attitudes from within the supply side towards electrical safety, productivity, and performance.
Clients of the industry must have total confidence that those who are employed to design maintain and install electrical systems are qualified and competent to do so. The industry needs to improve customer confidence by providing online access to the identity and qualifications of the individuals and teams who are directly and indirectly employed by Electrical Contractors.
Quality improvement in the electrical industry starts with competency improvement. Poor performance, low productivity and falling standards have crept across the industry.
The SparkSafe system requires all Qualified Electricians to hold an up to date accredited qualification covering the current edition of the IET BS7671 Wiring Requirements. Clients of the industry expect electrical installation and maintenance workers to demonstrate a commitment to continuous professional development to develop and maintain higher standards of practice.
Policing the System
Actions trump words when it comes to getting things done in the building services industry. Improving quality and raising standards must be measured at the point of delivery. Accurately identifying at an individual level, who is doing the work, where they fit into the team and what they qualified to do is the basis of SparkSafe’s unique sector approach to the quality improvement.
During the period we have completed fifty on-site audits on behalf of public sector agencies, and we remain on course to conduct a 100% compliance check on all projects were Licence to practice had been specified. On the majority of construction projects, electrical workers enter the site by plastic cards carrying basic health and safety credentials.
By using the SparkSafe system, client organisations are provided with a detailed workforce composition report setting out the identity and licence type of each electrical worker. Because the system is online, it also provides the client with desk top visibility on the identity of each electrical worker by licence type. The system is designed to ensure that appointed Main Contractors only employs electrical contractors who only employ licenced workers.
Repeat Business at Risk
Audit failure means non-compliance has been detected across a significant range of areas. Most clients are prepared to tolerate a first-time audit failure occurrence providing that there is swift, appropriate and sustained remedial action by the contractor. Failure to respond to non-compliance notices, however, will build a breach of contract risk and is likely to jeopardise future PQQ and Invitation to tender opportunities.