Electrical Safety Laws in Scotland:
In May 2005, a new system was brought in to enforce the Building Regulations in Scotland. It aims to improve the standard of building work. The new system includes rules for electrical installations, which has been controlled by the Building Regulations for many years. Under the new system, any electrical work carried out under a building warrant (the legal permission you need from the local authority to start building work) will either have to be approved by a registered installer (known formally as an ‘approved certifier’) or be checked by the local authority.
What electrical work is covered by the rules?
Any electrical work carried out under a building warrant. It is the responsibility of the person who orders the work (normally the person who owns the building), to find out if they need a building warrant. Your local authority will be able to give you advice about whether you need one for work you want to have done. However, it is likely that electrical work in new buildings, existing flats and in maisonettes and houses with more than two storeys, will have to meet the rules. You can get more information on this by visiting the Scottish Building Standard’s website at www.sbsa.gov.uk .
Who is responsible for making sure that new electrical work meets the rules of the building standards system in Scotland?
By law, homeowners and landlords have to be able to prove that all new electrical installations and any changes to existing electrical installations meet the rules. Your local authority has the power to force you to remove or alter work that does not meet the rules.
What should I do when I need electrical installation work carried out in my property?
There are two options. You can:
- employ an electrician that is registered with one of the government-approved scheme providers to carry out the work. These electricians are known as ‘registered installers’; or
- let your local authority check and approve the work when it has been done.
The Electrical Safety Council recommends that homeowners use a registered installer for all electrical installation work. See ‘How do I find a registered installer in Scotland’ for details of approved scheme operators.
The advantages of using a registered installer.
- The installer can deal with all the rules for you.
- The installer will provide you with certificates to confirm that the work they have carried out meets the rules and was carried out by a competent electrician (see ‘Does it matter who carries out electrical installation work in my property?’).
- You will get a refund on part of the fee for your building warrant.
- You will have access to a formal complaints procedure if the work doesn’t meet the rules.
How will I benefit from the new Building Standards system?
If you use a registered installer, you can expect to have safer, better-quality electrical installation work because they will work to the UK national standard BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations) and the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. When the work is finished you will be given certificates confirming that the installation meets these legal standards.
The certificates will be:
- a Certificate of Construction (Electrical Installations to BS 7671) that confirms that the installation meets the rules; and
- an Electrical Installation Certificate or Minor Works Certificate, that confirms that the installation meets BS 7671.
Does it matter who carries out electrical installation work in my property?
Yes. It is important that electrical installation work is only carried out by people who are competent. This means people who have the knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid dangers electricity can cause them and others. It’s easy to make an electrical circuit work but it’s far harder to make the circuit work safely.
Safety for you in your home is very important. So, we strongly recommend that you use a registered installer to carry out any electrical installation work you need. Registered installers will always work to the UK national standard BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations), and will issue a safety certificate for their electrical work to confirm that the installation has been designed, built, inspected and tested in line with that standard. This includes making any changes to an existing installation.
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