By November 1, 2016 Read More →

Legislation: not just red tape

legislation_0Businesses despair of too much regulation. It holds back entrepreneurial enterprise, they argue, and stifles innovation. Yet, where would we be without effective legislation?

Casualties were sadly all too commonplace in the construction sector before the government’s Health and Safety Executive tackled serious issues such as falls due to working at height. And no electrician in the land would want to go back to handling toxic materials such as asbestos, which have rightly been outlawed.

This month we explore various facets of our legislative framework, from the government’s Construction Strategy from 2016 to 2020, through to important issues contained in recent amendments to the Wiring Regulations.

For many electrical contractors, installation work is underpinned by the working agreement between employers and the trade union. The Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Unite have struck a four-year deal on wages and travel allowances which will see wages rise by between 2% and 3% annually through to 2020. This is the first time that the negotiating team have settled on a four-year deal, offering employers certainty of employment costs in a very uncertain time.

Many will be looking to the government to provide some degree of stimulus as consumer confidence and economic indicators have plummeted post-Brexit. The good news is that the recent Government Construction Strategy 2016-20 outlines the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s plans for schemes worth £163 billion. The government does, however, expect something in return and is seeking increased construction productivity to facilitate forecast efficiency savings of £1.7 billion during this term of Parliament.

Brexit is unlikely to mean the scrapping the UK’s commitment to carbon reduction contained in the Climate Change Act. Indeed, it has a legally-binding target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and an interim target of a 57% cut in emissions by 2032, based on 1990 levels. As our article from Schneider Electric points out, energy efficiency in buildings will only be achieved after analysis of existing energy use. An effective metering and monitoring is a crucial first step.

The UK’s drive towards greener buildings, enabled through legislation such as Part L of the Building Regulations, is not without its unintended consequences. Higher levels of insulation do wonders to save energy but make buildings much more airtight, with a corresponding decline in indoor air quality. Many studies are highlighting the need for adequate ventilation to combat the serious risks of health conditions such as asthma, as Vent-Axia highlights.

No round-up of legislation and regulation affecting electrical contractors would be complete without mentioning the Wiring Regulations. Amendment 3 of the 17th Edition continues to invite debate. This month Legrand tackles some confusion in the industry surrounding the subject of trunking systems and non-sheathed (single insulated) cable installations. The 17th Edition has also brought to light the potential need for more RCDs in the home and workplace. Here, GreenBrook Electrical outlines the changes, where the regulations now state that as well as all consumer units, bathrooms within zones 1 and 2 should also include a RCD.

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