Trading Standards Approval for Morgans Electrical

Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards department runs an approval scheme whereby companies trading within Central Bedfordshire can apply to be on their approved traders register.  The register can be found online at http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/local-business/trading-standards/approved-traders/default.aspx.

This register allows you as a consumer to see which businesses are members of the scheme before purchasing goods or services. The scheme is voluntary but Morgans Electrical decided to join the scheme as we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to customer care and fair-trading. Unlike some of the registers available on the Internet to find tradesmen, the Trading Standards team carries out a series of robust checks before approving a business.

This includes the following checks:

• The business complies with the law.

• Contract terms are fair, in plain English and clearly legible.

• Pricing is clear, and information about payment methods is provided.

• No repair or servicing work is carried out without the customer’s permission.

• Parts replaced during repair or servicing are made available for inspection.

• Itemised invoices are provided.

• The business operates an effective customer complaints procedure.

Before granting our approval, we had a visit from a Trading Standards Officer to audit our customer service processes, procedures and documentation and they also asked to see a list of recent customers from which they randomly selected six to contact and ask for feedback on our service. In addition, they also carried out criminal record/County Court judgment checks.

I’m pleased to say we passed all the checks so Morgans Electrical Ltd is now approved by Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards and we have already had our first enquiry through from a customer who found us on their website. Click here to see our certificate.

New Electrical Safety Register

When you’re looking for an electrician to carry out some work for you, it’s difficult to know who you can trust to do a good job.  TV programmes such as Rogue Traders whilst informative can leave you feeling like it’s a bit of a gamble when it comes to choosing a tradesman.

It’s also very confusing for consumers to know which trade organisation logos they should be looking out for – ELECSA, ECA and NICEIC to name a few.   All of these organisations run a competent person scheme which means that their members are assessed on a regular basis for compliance to safety regulations, building regulations and general scheme rules which include training and competence.  Whether you are a home owner or a business owner you want to know that the electrical contractor you choose is approved by one of these organisations.

To make it easier for you to find an approved contractor the Electrical Safety Council have introduced the Electrical Safety Register.  This Register provides an on-line search-able database of registered and approved electrical contractors.  This new Electrical Safety Register brings together all contractors registered with ELECSA, ECA and NICEIC.  Visit www.electricalsafetyregister.com to find approved contractors in your area.  Simply enter your postcode and your local approved contractors will be listed.  As a member of ELECSA and the ECA, Morgans Electrical Ltd can be found on this register.

Counterfeit Electrical Goods

Happy new year to all our readers!  Christmas is over for another year and all the houses that were decked in Christmas lights are returning to normal and I breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t see any of them going up in smoke!

It’s probably a symptom of being married to an electrician, but every time I saw a house covered in lights I just couldn’t help wondering where everything was plugged in to and how safe it all was.

In October, I wrote about the safe use of extension leads & adaptors and also asked what a Residual Current Device (RCD) is and I’d just like to reiterate the importance of not overloading sockets with too many adaptors and plugs and of avoiding linking extension leads together. I also talked about buying electrical accessories and devices from a reputable supplier and ensuring they conform to British Standards.

It’s sale time at the moment and there are lots of bargains to be had if you buy products on-line.  However, please be aware that you could be purchasing counterfeit products that are substandard and dangerous. Whilst you might save a few pounds you’ll almost certainly put your safety at risk, if not your life.

When you think of counterfeit goods you probably imagine DVDs, or luxury items, like Rolex watches and designer clothes & accessories. Electrical goods – extension leads, RCDs, switches, etc. – are probably the last things that spring to mind. Unfortunately, counterfeiters have realised there is a massive market to be exploited and are happy to turn out huge volumes of substandard products in order to make enormous profits.

It’s something the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) and Voltimum, the UK Electrical Industry Portal, have recognised as a serious issue. They work closely with Trading Standards and campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of the problem.

An article on their Counterfeit Kills blog site states that since 2000, BEAMA’s Electric Dragon Campaign has “…resulted in over 12 million counterfeit products being seized and destroyed [including] plugs, sockets and switches, circuit protection equipment (eg circuit breakers), fuses and safety critical devices like RCDs.

Many of these items were destined for the UK market, and the potential consequences of their use just don’t bear thinking about.

It’s not a cheery subject, I know. But it’s something I think people should be aware of, so I make no apologies.

I wish you a very safe and prosperous new year.

What is an RCD?

What is an RCD?

An RCD (Residual Current Device) is a safety device that switches electricity off immediately if there is a fault and it therefore provides protection against electric shock and potential death.  I always thought that an RCD was just some sort of safety plug that you used with your lawn mower and didn’t understand that there are a number of different types of RCD.  Also, I hadn’t realised just how important these devices are.

There are 3 main types of RCD:

Fixed RCDs are installed in your consumer unit (or fuse board) and this provides the best protection as it covers all sockets and appliances on the circuit connected through it.

Socket-outlet RCDs replace standard sockets and protect only a person in contact with equipment plugged into the socket.

Portable RCDs are plugged into any socket and then an appliance can be plugged into the portable RCD to provide protection.  This is the one I had come across as they are most commonly used for appliances used outdoors such as lawn mowers.

I read an article from the Electrical Safety Council recently and in it they provide some frightening statistics which highlight the need for RCDs.  Every week someone in the UK dies in their home through an electrical-related accident and thousands of people are injured every year.  In addition to this, 50% of fires in homes (around 21,000) are attributed to electrical faults.  Almost all electrocutions in the home and 20% of the fires above could be prevented if Fixed RCDs were installed at the fuse board.  Half of the homes in the UK don’t have this RCD protection installed.

If you’ve had a rewire recently or had a new fuse board installed the chances are that you’ll have built in RCD protection but if you’re not sure, ask your Part P approved electrician to take a look for you.  If you don’t currently have fixed RCD protection you may wish to consider upgrading to a new fuse board with built-in RCDs.  As a minimum, please use portable RCDs for any equipment used outside or near water e.g. lawn mowers, hedge cutters, etc.   Using RCD protection could save your life!

Extension leads and adaptors

Extension leads and adaptors – how to use them safely

We have so much electrical equipment in our homes these days that most of us use electrical extension leads and adaptors.  We never seem to have enough sockets in the right places!  But what are the dangers with using extension leads and adapters and how can you make sure you are using them safely?

All too often our team comes across daisy chains of extension leads or adapters piled up like the Leaning Tower of Pisa,  running a number of high current appliances such as electric heaters, kettles, irons and tumble dryers.  Overloading circuits in this way increases the risk of fire.  But this is not the only risk.  Cable damage is common with extension leads and this can lead to one of the conductors failing which can result in electric shock.

So, here are my tops tips for the safe use of extension leads:

  1. Don’t use extension leads and adaptors unless you have to.  Where possible, ask an electrician to fit more sockets for you.
  2. Be aware of the maximum loading for the adaptor or extension lead and the rating of appliances you are plugging into them.  A typical extension lead has a maximum loading of 13A.  Don’t overload with more than one high current appliance.
  3. If you do need to use an extension lead, buy one from a reputable retailer and make sure any adaptor used complies with British Standards.
  4. It’s advisable not to use an extension cable that exceeds 15m.  If you use a cable drum extension lead, unwind the cable from the drum completely before use to avoid the cable overheating
  5. Avoid trailing leads under carpets and rugs as this may result in damage to the cable.  Where a lead has to cross an area where people walk, cover the lead with a rubber protector.
  6. Never be tempted to join two lengths of flex by twisting the bared ends of wires together, even if you bind them with insulating tape!
  7. Always check that leads, plugs and sockets are undamaged before use.  If there are any burn marks on a lead, plug or socket, do not use and seek advice from your electrician.

It’s ok to use an extension lead for low current appliances such as your TV, DVD, etc but it’s always safer to plug one appliance into one socket.  As a guide, it should never cost you more than around £75* to have an extra double socket fitted.

Next time I’ll be talking about RCDs – what they are and how they can prevent electrical shock.

*subject to survey

Carbon Neutral Compact Home

Do you think you could live in a cube 3 meters square? Morgans Electrical have recently been involved in an innovative project led by Dr. Mike Page from the University of Hertfordshire. Dr. Page designed a complete home within a 3m cube with the aim of showing that one person could live in comfort in a home this size with minimal impact on the environment. Morgans Electrical have sponsored this project by installing the electrics and Solar PV system for the home. For more details and a short video click here