Fiona: Industry regulation would mean happier and safer consumers

Stricter regulation of the electrical industry would have a significant uplift on Scotland’s economy while also driving massive improvements in public safety, SELECT’s Fiona Harper told radio listeners this week.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, our Head of Employment Affairs welcomed moves by the Scottish Government to publish a consultation on the regulation of electricians, but told presenter Andrew Black that change must come sooner rather than later.

Fiona (pictured above) said: “In Scotland at this moment in time anyone can call themselves an electrician and carry out electrical work. Even if you decided tomorrow, Andrew, that radio is no longer for you, you could buy a van, call yourself an electrician, and it wouldn’t be against the law.

“But electrical installation is what is described as a safety-critical activity. It’s always important that installations are safe, because if not, they can result in injury or death.

“Some faults lie hidden for years, lurking behind a socket, under a floorboard or in a wall, just waiting for a combination of circumstances for a flashpoint to occur.”

News of the consultation contained in the 2019-20 Programme for Government released earlier this month was immediately endorsed by SJIB and SELECT, who estimate that as many as 16% of all domestic electricians operating in this country are either unqualified or under-qualified.

Unite the Union are among the other bodies also pressing for title of electrician protected in law, helping to ensure that anyone claiming to be an electrician would have the necessary qualifications, knowledge and experience to carry out work.

Fiona, who is also The Secretary of the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), added: “We estimate that upskilling training would cost around £1,000 per person, so if that meant 10,000 unqualified or under-qualified people, that’s about £2million.

“But the benefit to the Scottish economy would be huge. We have made a cautious estimate of the net benefits to Scotland from proper, recognised, regulated electricians of around £58million.

“By upskilling the workforce and regulating the playing field we would inevitably reduce damage caused by faulty work, there would be fewer injuries and deaths and better-functioning installations – but most importantly, happier and safer consumers.”

  • Fiona was speaking to Good Morning Scotland on Thursday 19 September. Listen again here until 18 October at the 2.49.52 mark.
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