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Industry opinion Safety fi rst The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) is involved in a range

of initiatives supporting both consumers and the industry. Phil Buckle, director general of the ESC, outlines how


lectricity is so seamlessly interwoven with modern life that it is easy – particularly for people outside the profession – to forget just how powerful and dangerous it can be. It is, however, core to the

Electrical Safety Council’s (ESC) existence. Put simply, our mission is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths in the UK that are caused by electricity. Our emphasis on evidence- based policy, which informs our strategy and campaigns, also helps us identify and address key issues, including the economic cost of electrical fi res and accidents. The electrical industry – in all its aspects – has a well- respected profi le in this country. However, with the explosion of counterfeit goods and online shopping, plus the introduction of smart meters and a government review of the English building regulations – not to mention a ‘challenging’ economic climate – it is a sector living through interesting times.

Initiatives The ESC believes that consumer protection is best served by working with the industry to ensure public protection is always a core concern, and we undertake this through various initiatives. We are fortunate in having a pool of leading technical experts, who sit on a range of UK and International standardisation committees and provide advice to contractors and the public alike. Our technical team also produces a number of authoritative resources for the industry, including a series of Best Practice Guides and The Essential Guide to the Wiring Regulations – a continually updated reference for electricians, installation designers and college lecturers. Currently, our technical development unit is closely involved in stakeholder discussions on the introduction of smart electricity meters, providing both technical expertise and insights gained as consumer advocates. Most recently, the ESC was instrumental in organising and hosting a roundtable discussion on this important technological development. A further example of collaborative industry working was

parliamentary liaison activity, we have submitted comments and supporting evidence on Part P to the government’s review of the English building regulations. The ESC believes that removing Part P would undermine consumer safeguards and, particularly in these fi nancially uncertain times, could contribute to an explosion of DIY-related injuries and fi res. We have no doubt this would negate the efforts made in recent years by the ESC and the electrical industry to improve the safety of electrical installations in UK homes.

Every campaign we run incorporates a message that reinforces the need to use a registered electrician when arranging electrical work

Education We are also aware, however, that consumers need to be educated about electrical safety, and every campaign we run incorporates a message that reinforces the need to use a registered electrician when arranging electrical work. Last May, we launched our fl agship campaign, Plug into Safety, which aims to increase the awareness and use of RCDs in much the same way that the government’s Fire Kills campaign boosted the installation and use of smoke alarms. Media coverage of this campaign

has been excellent, but to make it fully effective we have been working closely

About the author

another ESC-hosted event – a roundtable on counterfeiting – that brought together industry bodies, enforcement agencies and government departments, in an attempt to tackle this growing problem. Additionally, as part of our on-going

Phil Buckle Phil Buckle was appointed director general of the Electrical Safety Council in May 2009. He has recently completed a Master of Science degree in Management in the Voluntary Sector, and was previously employed as marketing and business development director at the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC).

with a range of stakeholders. A programme of partnership marketing with manufacturers of electrical products and accessories, as well as major DIY and garden retailers, is under way, and we have been particularly keen to bring electrical contractors into the campaign. To effect this, we have developed a Plug into Safety consumer ‘toolkit’ for electricians, to help them engage with clients and explain the benefi ts of the additional protection provided by RCDs (for a toolkit, visit The industry itself is one of our best channels for

communicating with the general public, and increasing awareness of electrical safety. And we believe that it is by working in partnership with bodies such as the ECA that we can best serve the interests of the consumer and achieve our overarching objective – to prevent injuries and deaths caused by electricity. For more about the ESC, visit or call the ESC helpline on 0870 040 0561.

Winter 2010 ECA Today 19

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