Who’s responsible for the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations?
Well, despite some murmurings, it is not just one organization, such as the NICEIC or the IET (per se) that oversees or updates them. It’s actually over 40, but more on that in a moment!
Referring to it with its proper title, BS 7671:2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations (aka the Regs) is actually co-produced by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and British Standards Institution (BSI). Between them, the technical authority for the standard is actually vested in a joint IET/BSI Technical Committee, the constitution of which is made up of representatives from the electrical industry including electrical contracting (ok – the NICEIC is one of them!), electrical manufacturers, the HSE, the electricity supply industry and members of the IET. The committee is referred to as JPEL/64.
Meeting several times a year, the committee works with approximately 40 organizations (all of which are listed in the front of the standard) to ensure the standard is accurate, reflects best practice, and follows the technical intent detailed in international standards. The standard also has to keep pace with modern technology an innovation etc., so that’s why it’s periodically updated.
BS 7671 is the UK’s national standard for electrical installations up to 1000 V AC or 1500 V DC. However, they are used in other countries including Mauritius, St Lucia, St Vincent, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, and Uganda. Other countries, such as Cyprus, also base their Wiring Regulations on BS 7671.
So, how are the UK regulations developed?
This part of the story is actually quite involved. So, in an attempt to keep things simple, here goes. BS 7671 is based on CENELEC harmonisation documents (European Harmonised Standards) which in turn are generally based on IEC standards (World Standards). However, with the world being such a big place, it’s often necessary to include common modifications within European Standards in order to make the requirements suitable for application within Europe.
CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization, is a private non-profit technical organisation set up in 1970s under Belgian law and comprises the National Electrotechnical Committees of over 30 European countries (2018). Its mission is to prepare voluntary electrotechnical standards that help develop the single European Market/European Economic Area for electrical and electronic goods in an attempt to harmonise national wiring standards around the world. In doing so, they actively support international standardization, and cooperate closely with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), in order to pursue the goal of ‘one standard, one test, accepted everywhere’.
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) brings nations and experts together to develop International Standards which facilitate world trade by removing technical barriers to trade, leading to new markets and economic growth. Through its members (84 in 2018, with 62 having full membership), their aim is to promote international cooperation on all questions of standardization and related matters.
In summary then, BS 7671 is the UK’s version of wiring regulations which are primarily based on European CENELEC harmonised documents (HDs), which are based on World (IEC) standards – the development of which is made of industry representatives, manufacturers and technical experts from JPEL/64 as they take an active part in the maintenance teams as and when they need to be updated/revised.
*It is worth noting that following the triggering of Article 50, BSI will continue to help organizations achieve their goals as they have done for the past 116 years.
For BSI it is business as usual, so they will remain a full member and influential participant in the single European Standards system as well as an EU Notified Body. BSI will continue to play an important role in helping both British and overseas firms demonstrate product conformity. The full statement can be read here.