New electrician qualification checking system has been launched by City & Guilds and ECS to reduce fraudulent electricians.
City and Guilds report that a specially-designed computer programme that allows electricians qualifications to be automatically verified during an ECS card application has been developed by City & Guilds and the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme. Read the City and Guilds article here.
Certification Scheme (ECS) certifies the skills of electrical workers in the UK.
The scheme isn’t compulsory for electricians to join, but when they do, holding
an ECS card shows the cardholders qualifications, electrical occupation,
identity and whether they have sat the ECS health and safety awareness.
applies to obtain an ECS card, the qualification details are now automatically
searched directly within the City and Guilds database to verify the certificate
number, name and date.
The new system combats fraudulent electricians applications and increases efficiency as previously the details were checked manually between the two organisations. City & Guilds claim those who make fraudulent applications will be referred to the Fraud Investigations Team who work in conjunction with other schemes and the police if necessary.
ECS Contact Centre Operations Manager says “We are continuously looking to improve our service and the robustness of the scheme overall. Our work with City & Guilds and other partners not only makes the application process more streamlined for customers, but also importantly catches and deters those who attempt to gain an ECS card under false pretences. These people are potentially endangering the safety of themselves and others if they are carrying out work for which they are not qualified.”
How many fraudulent electricians are operating in the UK?
This begs the question – How many fraudulent electrician applications have glided past the ‘old system’? It has taken until the year 2019 for the ECS and City and Guilds to utilise a very simple technology system. Is this a complete mockery to the safety of the general public and those electricians who pay for their ECS cards and City and Guilds qualifications?
How does someone make a fraudulent electrician application?
It is very easy. You purchase online fake City and Guilds qualification certificates. You can simply google it and find someone who offers the service. People do this to be able to earn an electrician’s wage on sites that require ECS cards as proof of being an ‘electrician’ without actually obtaining the qualifications.
The problem with this is that it allows non-qualified persons to carry out electrical work in the role of an electrician. It isn’t too difficult to work out why this is bad and a safety issue – electricians who aren’t electricians connecting up and energising electrical circuits which have the ability to cause electric shock or fires if installed and tested incorrectly. The other major issue is that it devalues the title of the electrician. If the average skill and ability of an ‘electrician’ is less, the wages will be less than if fraudulent persons were not operating because training as an electrician requires personal investment of time and money. If individuals are cutting out some of this investment, they will be willing to accept less of a pay because they haven’t the same expense of those who have qualified legitimately.
It is fantastic this technology is now being used and hopefully will protect the title of the electrician further. However, obtaining an ECS card does not prove competence, it proves qualifications. There is a distinct difference. What is a registered electrician? Read our article here. It is like passing your driving test, you drive to a certain standard to pass the test, then once you have your licence you are completely free to drive as you please. How bad were the drivers on your commute today?
Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in
This blog post was originally published on June 24, 2018, I am re-publishing it to show everyone who follows my new blog on danstheengineer.co.uk and my career path.
At the end of this month (June 2018), I
will not only be exiting my business, but also the industry I have been working
in since leaving school. I am leaving to travel the world full time with my
wife and kids and have booked a one-way ticket out of the UK. You can see our announcement
Many are asking me what plans I have when I get
back and what I will do for work when I return. I have also been offered many
jobs in various roles.
The truth is, I don’t have plans to come back.
I don’t know where I will be in 6 months’ time, in a years’ time, in 3 years’
time. That is sort of the point! We stop off in Iceland first in August and
have booked one-way tickets. We will adapt and mindset will alter on our
amazing journey and I will remain open minded.
I have very mixed emotions right now.
I have been in the trade for 15 years and I
boast some fantastic achievements in my time here. The last 12 months have been
the most memorable and my career has been at an all time high…. I was
accepted into The
IET: The Institution of Engineering and Technology as a Fellow,
I helped set up the #E5 Group as a founding member, turnover and profits
within my business are at an all time high, I setup my YouTube
Channel – Dans the Engineer which has gone rather well, carried
out some prestigious projects and I have many contact me online to ask for my
advice, help and guidance (which I am happy to).
Many didn’t expect my decision to leave but I
have my reasons. I will openly admit that I love and loath the electrical and
fire industries. I am a geek at heart, love the technical and engineering
aspects of my job, love meeting interesting people all over the UK, building
relationships and completing fantastic projects. BUT, the industry requires
improvement. The type of improvement I mean is increased safety and procedures
to prevent people getting hurt, or worse still – deaths.
My content online, articles written, and
YouTube videos were to raise awareness of issues we face, to improve standards
and to help people. It is something I am very passionate about.
This is where it gets complicated for me. I
spend god knows how many hours focused on work and my business, learning and
researching within my field of work. But my new Venture is to enjoy time with
my family, watch them grow, travel and take some time out for me. We are
filming Our Venture Beyond on YouTube and Instagram so
others can follow what we do.
I decided that when I exit I will stop my focus
on the industry and to focus on my new lifestyle. It is something I have to do
for my family and for me.
Since announcing my decision to leave, many
people including industry influencers and leaders have got in contact either
wishing me well, thanking me, and/or offering something for the future.
Honestly, it is very overwhelming!
I do have a few final things to say though.
The electrical and fire industries are very
similar in many respects in that each industry is very vast in what it covers
but legislation is similar for both.
What I am about to say in generally speaking
about both industries.
Anybody and I mean anybody can work on fire
alarm systems…. Worrying right? In fact it is the same for electrics too.
Legislation allows this which I will touch on in a minute.
A person or organisation who owns or is in
charge of a property is also responsible for the electrical and fire safety. It
is down to them to determine how they do this. There are many ways to achieve
this but in my honest opinion, this is a slight conflict of interest due to
money. There is little way of enforcement to be compliant.
Responsible people can have work carried out
with the intention ‘to be compliant’ but it doesn’t mean they are compliant,
and it is down to client / person ordering the work to ensure it is carried out
correctly. The problem with this is that the client needs to either be able to
assess the work carried out themselves or contract somebody who can on their
behalf. There is a risk of relying on the contractor carrying out the work to
ensure they have done it correctly because it is a conflict of interest in many
cases. The way contractors make money is by pricing a job, there will be a
margin on labour and materials so the quicker they complete a job, the more
profit there is. They are hardly going to highlight to you any issues because
it will cost them! There seems to be a horrible culture in the industry where
many have reduced costs so much that it is very easy to be so tight on making a
profit that there isn’t room for any errors. When there is, many cut corners to
maintain profit at the risk of reducing safety! Don’t get me wrong…. there
are some fantastic contractors out there who consciously think about their
actions and strive for a great install regardless if it won’t make as much
profit as they hoped.
The accepted level and quality of training
needs improving. Training providers seem to be in battle with each other to
provide the cheapest training possible to win over clients based on price more
than anything else. It seems to be the accepted by society. We all like a
bargain but the quality can vary so much and can make such a difference. Some
trainers will be happy making a little margin which is fine, but there are too
many courses available which do not offer a good outcome for the trainee. That
is not ethical.
The level of knowledge and skill has been
watered down. It is very easy to do a short course and get some tools and start
working on life safety and electrical systems. System that can cause fires or
prevent suitable means of detecting fire. It is an important job and there is
far more to it other than it just ‘working’. Courses I have attended and
feedback from others suggest that they passed the course via a very easy system
such as multiple choice but walked away not really knowing everything they should
do. It seems like the pass result percentage is what matters and measures the
success of the training. A bit like the UK education system. Unfortunately,
that doesn’t help the student. Correct and suitable training is vital!! IF
people knew what they are doing and the dangers caused by their actions, they
would have more of a chance in installing systems to a better standard.
Attitudes towards management of systems can
completely change how effective a system is. I could install a brilliant
compliant system, but if it isn’t maintained adequately, it is only as good as
the day it was installed.
That doesn’t stop someone dying, does it?
I came across a project recently where the
client has a procedure where the contractor has to sign a permit to agree that
they will make good any penetrations to fire compartments to ‘the best of their
ability’ as part of their works. They sign the permit in the morning, do the
work and bring back the permit at the end of the day. When I carried out a
survey I noticed tons of cable and pipe penetrations in the fire compartments,
it was like swiss cheese and informed the client that clearly previous
contractors have not installed fire barriers. The client turned around to be
and said, ‘I have this bit of paper that says they have installed fire seals to
their work’. I was gobsmacked!!!!! That paper DOES NOT STOP SOMEBODY DYING IN A
Common sense seems to be a thing from the past.
It almost seems like we are trained to be robots who cannot think for
themselves outside their pre-programme. I say, step outside of the norm and
think for yourself. Question everything!! Why do we use this cable. Why do we
install smoke detectors there. As a parent it can be funny at first but then
frustrating when your child keeps asking why…. but honestly, I encourage my
kids to ask why. Then we explore the reason why together.
Who on earth designed that?
In 2017, BS5839 Part 1 was revised and one of
the good changes in my opinion was that manual call points are to have covers.
So there is a plastic cover that you lift before activating the call point.
This is to reduce false alarms by people accidentally pressing them. It is a
great idea and has reduced false alarms in the many properties that I manage.
But I have seen so many covers installed but have old signage above them
advising how to active the call point by pressing it failing to provide the
vital information that you need to lift the cover first! It seems obvious to
people who are in the know, but in an emergency, a layman may not know this and
it reduces the chance of activating an all important system. An example of this
was a very fancy building in London I was in recently had manual call points
with covers and pointless signage above and all the smoke detection was
literally right by an air conditioning ventilation system blowing air into the
room. If there were a fire, the smoke would be blown away from the detectors so
manual call points would be vital because I believe the smoke detection to be
pretty ineffective in this premises.
Who on earth designed that? Design is so
important but what is more important is that the design is to be verified by
the designer once installed. I strongly believe in third party consultancy
where the consultant designs a system based on the clients needs who signs
design documentation, oversees the installation and commissioning and testing,
then signs a verification of the system to effectively takes responsibility of
the system. This is supposed to happen with fire alarm systems but often what
happens is either the contractor is the designer and carries out verification
or a third party does it but doesn’t sign the documentation at all and leaves
it to the contractor as well. Going back to my previous statement, I believe
this is a conflict of interest.
If a third party was involved from the outset,
it would be in everybody’s interest to make sure everything is how it should
be! The problem being is cost. It would cost much more contracting a consultant
or third party but can a client who isn’t able to make the necessary judgements
themselves afford NOT to have a third party? I mean, I know clients responsible
for the electrical systems and fire safety who have never read or even heard of
At Work Regulations 1989 or the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Guess
what? Both are free. Click each link and you can download it. Every person
involved in systems and management inside the scope of these documents should
read them from an apprentice to a manager. They really are not complicated.
I walk around premises all the time and notice
issues with fire and electrical safety. The problem is, you cannot un-see them.
It could be a pub where a fire exit sign is pointing down instead of left. Or a
hanging exit sign which is double sided effectively directing you back into the
property. I believe that exit signage is confusing to the layman. Professionals
keep saying it isn’t confusing at all. Well of course it isn’t confusing to
someone who deals with it day in a day out but in the event of an emergency,
the majority of people who need to understand signage, won’t. When I was in the
US recently in Disney World, Orlando, in most of the areas, the signage is so
clear I felt confident I would be able to find my way out. Every sign was
electrically illuminated, directional, says clearly EXIT, and was supplemented
by low level signs in places. It just made sense yet I was standing in a very
large shopping centre in the South of England the other day and it has the
smallest exit signs only located at the exit point which are not obvious unless
you look for them because generally they are not at the main entrances and the
colour clashes with the colours of all the fantastic shop front displays. It is
confusing in normal circumstances. I hold little hope when the place is full of
A few years ago a client has a fire in their
property and it was reported that people struggled to see to get out due to
smoke filling the place as the emergency lighting did not illuminate. Well it
wouldn’t! It is run in FP200 fire rated cable and only activates when the mains
fails. The mains didn’t fail because the cable withstood the fire! Nobody could
turn on the functional light due to the panic of the emergency and didn’t want
to locate the switches as they were near the fire.
And just to clarify to a few contractors….
exit signs are not necessarily emergency lights. Think about it.
Just because a contractor is part of a CPS
(Competent Person Scheme) does not mean they are competent and/or carry out
works to the relevant standards. It is up to the person ordering the work to
carry out due diligence to assess if they are able to carry out the work and
then review the work is acceptable. Cost SHOULD NOT be the main factor on
choosing who does the work and just because they are part of a CPS is not good
enough due diligence at all.
Remember, the British Standards are a GUIDE.
However, unless you have sufficient knowledge and experience to deviate from
the standards, you should stick to them as the minimum. There has been many
situations where I have deviated as a designer but I have been happy to take
that responsibility without reducing the risk of the level of safety of the
I believe we all have a duty to improve
standards in the industry and can all make steps to assist this:
Individuals and companies to
continue training externally and internally
Review management procedures
DO NOT put pressure on time to
complete tasks but penalising individuals but also financial incentives to
complete tasks in impossible times. There will be errors in this way
Stop boasting how cheaply jobs can
be done. I am all up for saving money where possible, but under cutting
others usually isn’t as transparent as it may seem. When cost goes down,
often quality does too
Putting safety first…. always….
without compromise. Let’s go to bed every evening, knowing what we have
done could save a life
Use this fantastic site as a forum
to help each other, share experiences and ideas. There are some seriously
clever guys and girls on Linkedin who can provide so much help. This is
pretty much what #e5 is all about so being part of it is to help each
Remember that people are humans and
We all need to earn a living, but
let’s not allow offers to suffer as a result of greed
In the words of Paul Meenan, we should have
assurance, not insurance when talking about electrical and life safety systems.
Ask yourself, have you done everything you possibly can to ensure you have done
your part including highlighting any shortfalls on the parts you may not
necessarily be responsible for. If not, you may be breaking the law!
Grenfell was a national disaster but speaking
to professionals within the industry, it is no surprise a tragedy like this
occurred. The problem with fire and electrical safety is that it only tends to
be apparent there is a problem when an accident or disaster occurs, not before
hand. IF all fire measures were in place in Grenfell, it may have been a
different story. One where many people wouldn’t have lost their homes and
This is how I see ‘The Industry’
I am about to leave my company to set off on an
amazing trip, but I believe that every one of my team who works for my company
matters. Whether it be my head electrician, my fellow director, receptionist,
clients, the guy who supplies my materials and even the cleaner! We all have a
role and together, we are a team. The team cannot operate without the team
players. This is how I see ‘The Industry’ . We are all involved and linked
together. We have our roles and the goal should be to provide safe systems to
protect each other and the public. If one team player doesn’t pull their
weight, the goal will not be achieved.
I could keep going with this but I hope you get
the idea of what I am talking about and can relate, maybe stop and think about
a few things I have mentioned.
I would post lots of fancy pictures for this
article but my van got broken into and my photos were on a hard drive that also
got stolen. Those photos probably will mean nothing to the thieves but little
do they know, that they are evidence that could potentially save their lives
Now you’ll have to excuse me because I am
currently doing some research on mountain hikes 😉 Must go!
by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer
in Kent, England
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