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Electricians and Individual Sectors

I recently wrote a blog about our industry and asked a very straight-laced question…. Can it be fixed? My own personal view on this is that the whole industry cannot be fixed, as a whole I mean, but that individual sections are far more able to change, if that makes sense.

 

The biggest problem we have, which many of you have highlighted over the last few months, is the term electrician and the perception that all electricians can work on anything electrical. Let’s just clarify something right now, that statement is completely false, which I totally understand will confuse some folk. I am an electrician and have been very lucky to be able to work on or manage a multitude of electrical systems from domestic to commercial, static inverters to fire alarms and many different types of lighting arrangements. However, if you put me in front of a substation transformer and ask me to joint incoming cables, I will look at you in the same way a child would if you asked them to do it!!!

 

Electricians have skillsets, they all learn the basics and then drift off into their chosen careers which means further learning and development and thus experience! Those who don’t drift off into specialist sections become electricians who work on domestic and some dip their toes in industrial/commercial systems. This may not be accurate but from where I view the industry it feels like it.

 

Once you have that base qualification you then start to gain experience in the field. A lot of people talk about ‘grandfather rights’ and I often hear people saying “I’ve been doing this a long time”, the truth is you have, we know you have, but in that time things have changed, if you’re that experienced you should pass any exam easily. The fundamentals of the wiring regulations from the first edition in 1882 are still the same, if you touch a live circuit you’ll get a shock, electricity causes fires and it’s important to make electrically sound connections. Over time things have changed and if you don’t do certain things you forget.

 

Let’s try something – answer the following:

 

1.    Complete the triangle for Ohms Law. Write it on a piece of paper. You should be able to do this without referencing anything.

 

2.    On that same piece of paper write down the equation used to get 1667 ohms for a 30mA RCD. Might not know this off the top of your head so you can use the regs for it.

 

3.    The last one, pick the last circuit you tested and calculate the CPC using the adiabatic equation. Again, not always possible to remember this so you can use the regs.

 

Those are pretty basic stuff I know but I bet a lot of folk won’t be able to do it. I also bet they won’t openly admit that!!!!

 

In the first paragraph, I mentioned that individual sections of our industry are better placed to change things for the better. So, I work in the Social Housing Industry and understand that sector (electrically) pretty well. My focus going forward is to help people in this industry understand what Competent Person Schemes are and what their role in the industry is and how they can do more to help the industry as opposed to themselves. Also what an electrician is and how to identify a good one from a bad one. I will also continue to work with a few organisations to help them drive a change that will make the word ‘Competent’ regain some credibility.

 

So what can you do, if you work in senior management or at director level, you could take a stance and only use electricians who can clearly show their worth. You could stop paying buttons for those who promise the world and who walk away when a little pressure is applied.

 

Our industry is great and I love what I do. I hate it when someone says “electrics is like the poor cousin to gas” or “your industry is a little messed up at the moment, you don’t know whats what anymore”. People keep asking why the industry is not doing anything to fix this…. I genuinely think the reason for this is because there isn’t an organisation capable of fixing it. They’re all looking to capitalise as opposed to fix.

 

Ryan Dempsey - CEO
Ryan Dempsey

Over the last few years I have found myself in a very fortunate position where I can implement and promote change in the Social Housing sector. My passion and drive to improve Electrical Safety continually fuels my motivation to implement slight changes to engineer and industry work patterns in the hope the mentality currently sitting in the engineering industry can change. We need to ensure the right people with the right skills and experience are working in and around the properties we provide. Not only that, we need to ensure the workforce are the people talking and helping develop the standards we work towards. Improved quality assurance and the avoidance of the 'status quo' should be a starting point in any organisations route to complete compliance. Improved compliance at all levels will improve the safety and sustainability of the properties we provide and manage. The key to improve risk management is to pinpoint the areas of risk and manage these individually. Don't over complicate a simple process. We also need to ensure those with a similar passion speak up and be counted for. It's time for change and that means moving out the old and replacing with the new. All the views and opinions on here are my own and not that of any company I am associated with.

13 Comments
  • Avatar
    Steven Forsyth
    Reply
    Posted at 9:12 am, 5th December 2017

    Changes in small steps are better than no changes at all.
    Confused quote from S Forsyth circa 10 minutes ago.

  • Avatar
    Paul Skyrme
    Reply
    Posted at 9:13 am, 5th December 2017

    Ryan Dempsey MIET, your crusade is encouraging, and I hope that you get the audience you deserve.
    However, “it’s all about money, not safety”, as a friend of mine would say.
    If there is anything that I can do to help, if I can I will.

  • Avatar
    Ryan Dempsey
    Reply
    Posted at 9:15 am, 5th December 2017

    Crusade!!! Ha ha. I’ve been in this industry for a few years now and has always felt there is room for improvement. The things that pushes me forward is the fact our industry is life critical sometimes. Poor quality could potentially lead to someone losing their life. That doesn’t sit well with me! I’ve experienced a very serious accident with electrics first hand and could have prevented it, if what I do triggers a change in one persons work ethic and then prevents something that could have happen, I’d be happy.

    Thanks for the offer of help, I really appreciate it. I really can’t do this on my own.

  • Avatar
    Andy Hartley
    Reply
    Posted at 9:16 am, 5th December 2017

    Ryan Dempsey MIET think the route is top and tail , part 1 is get them early , that was one of pulls to get me in education , and maintain standards and strive to improve them , at least they go into big bad world with right understanding , just hope some idiot doesn’t knock it out of them. Part 2 get to directors and let him know he is responsible for each sub contractor under corporate/ company manslaughter previsions, still in common law but some statutes to back it up.

  • Avatar
    Shahid Khan
    Reply
    Posted at 9:17 am, 5th December 2017

    Andy Hartley a similar drive inspired me to get into teaching, so am with you 100%

  • Avatar
    Mark Allison
    Reply
    Posted at 9:19 am, 5th December 2017

    Love a good calculation Ryan. Keeps the brain working. I often get the apprentice calculating what an acceptable minimum cpc would be. It does great things to understand why we install certain circuits etc. Then I get him to smash chases out to relieve the stress ha.

    I agree with all of your views but sadly gave up on ever been able to effect change at the top. I just focus on what I can directly effect, my own work and that of those around me. Plenty of good guys and girls are out there, I’ve met many good people.

    Sadly plenty of the opposite out there as well.

    I hope to leave the industry in better state for those that follow.

  • Avatar
    John Logan TMIET
    Reply
    Posted at 9:19 am, 5th December 2017

    Fantastic post Ryan Dempsey MIET I totally agree.

  • Avatar
    Andy Hartley
    Reply
    Posted at 9:56 am, 5th December 2017

    Teach it in first year and drip feed science over 3 years so its embedded into everything

  • Avatar
    John Dobson
    Reply
    Posted at 9:57 am, 5th December 2017

    Power factor and AC theory frighten many “electricians”

  • Avatar
    Andy Hartley
    Reply
    Posted at 9:58 am, 5th December 2017

    So agree just on Friday had that very discussion with students a simple task in class , CU and a set of circuits /loads , environments, and they could all reel off. What cables to connect not one could say why they made that choice , let alone check it in OSG or regs, colleges / city&guilds have dumbed down the quals to help get bums on seats and passed exams, employers are now expected to do 90% of the practical training much to their suprise , students only get 40 hours in workshop, , 2330 was far more in depth, now 5357 is down to common or basic items used. So we will soon need another qualification to get them up to adequate level am2 now becoming mandatory

  • Avatar
    John Dobson
    Reply
    Posted at 9:58 am, 5th December 2017

    Ryan, I know from experience that the questions posed are very rarely answered. Too many electricians seem to think that once qualified, that’s it. There is a lot of “why do I need to know this, I’ll never use it” and “somebody else gets paid to know that”
    If you know how a circuit works, then if it fails, it is easier to identify and locate the fault and effect a repair. The method “trial and error” of fault diagnostics can lead to further damage. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and can save time, effort and cost. This improves the service to the client and ultimately the provider more viable

  • Avatar
    Lee Ward EngTech MIET
    Reply
    Posted at 9:59 am, 5th December 2017

    Fully agree 100%

  • Avatar
    Steve Aberdour
    Reply
    Posted at 9:59 am, 5th December 2017

    What can I say -i agree with everything you have said….. its just a shame we don’t have more people like you in the industry .
    For me I am simply losing the will to live with the muppets we have working as so called sparks ….and this is down to companies like NICEIC NAPIT allowing 5 week wonder into the industry and as for the part P in England well that’s a joke to .

    Its really only about making money for these jokers ! and not about safety .

    RANT OVER .

    keep up the good work Ryan.

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