Dangerous or potentially dangerous? i.e. Code 1 or 2
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Dangerous or potentially dangerous? i.e. Code 1 or 2

by ericmark » Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:06 pm

Periodic inspection report codes.
We have from the electrical safety council a recommendation to code inspection reports 1 to 4.
1 Dangerous.
2 Potential Danger.
3 More investigation.
4 Not compliant with current edition of BS7671.
Start with Code 3, as far as I see it this is where for example the user will not allow one to turn off the power to test or where fuses have seals so their size can not be found etc.
Code 4:- I assume where no potential danger but it does not comply example I would think is cables buried less than 50mm in a wall. Although whole reason for rule is there is a potential danger so may be this is not a good example?
So what do the regulations require one to do which if you didn’t do would present no potential danger? And if there is a regulation which to disregard caused not potential danger why have the regulation in first place? Personally I would say anything that was allowed in previous regulation and not in current regulation is Code 4.
So next is Code 1 compared with Code 2 to me main word is “Potential” and I would say where two or more things can add up to being Dangerous then we have a “Potential Danger” for example an RCD not tripping within 40ms at 150ma is in it’s self not dangerous but if at a latter date a nail is knocked through a cable then there would be a danger so an RCD not working is potentially dangerous.
Code 1 is danger exists so if an electric fire guard will allow a 1mm thick wire 100mm long to contact live parts is the:
A) Dangerous
B) Potentially Dangerous
To me there is a danger so Code 1 but on the other hand we have had fires of this type for years. I remember as a kid getting the new elements for our ring from Woolworths and wrapping it around the porcelain former and when it burnt out it would often pop up and touch base of the pan and one hopes blow the fuse. We don’t have these any more because they were dangerous or were they potentially dangerous?
So where does one draw the line between dangerous and potentially dangerous?
I realise there is no black and white and the whole question arose over some fires found in use in a school and a good point was made that if the same fires were in an office where lose jewellery and keys on chains etc were banned it may only be potentially dangerous but in a school where all sorts of odd dress and wires are used for legitimate purposes then may be it should be Code 1 on a PIR.
Please your thoughts as to where to draw the line.

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by sparx » Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:08 pm

Hi Eric,
a very subjective point!
several guides I have copies of & most disagree!

Code 1 Most agree dangerous to the point of requiring instant action ie turn off/disconnect circuit/item, to do less puts the inspector totally 'in the frame' should an accident happen after he has noted fault & not taken action! won't be popular with client, TOUGH! thats why you're there!
It is in same catagory as Gas fitter finding leak, turn off/cap, affix label & note on ticket.
Code 4 Most agree that this should apply to virtually anything found that was OK when installed to an earlier edition of regs but does not come up to current standards.
Code 2 less agreement but I feel this could apply to many issues, such as a Voltage operated ELCB which may work on test button but due to changes of supply/parallel paths etc. may not operate under fault condition.
Code 3 I have left to last as I am sure it is the most contentious.
My feeling is there are very few instances that require one.
One that springs to mind is doing an end-to-end on a ring and getting say;
E-E 0.9 ohms, L-L 0.6 ohms, N-N 0.8 ohms I would say Neutral required further investigation for loose contact [in JB?]
Another would be a circuit on a consumer unit which has cable connected , unlabeled, & having no apparent effect when turned off. In a PIR there is limited time to follow such finding & I note it as code £ & leave it turned off, the customer will soon let you know if it indeed was doing something when they discover whats not working, problem solved!

Overall it is a minefield & I just think how I could justify my report/action in a law court should the worst happen!
I very much enjoy doing PIR's, it's a large part of my work now & is why I joined NAPIT!
I have one to do tomorrow & it promises to be interesting as the owner wants to rent out a 'Chalet' in his garden & if the rest of his house wiring is a guide he's not gonna be sending me a Christmas card!!
Nobody wants a failed MOT, & tact and diplomacy are not my best assets..
which is why they get the report on payment of invoice not before, they won't like paying for a less than glowing report.

kind regards, sparx G6NLZ dah-di-dah!


by ericmark » Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:37 am

Thank you for the considered and honest reply. I have had people report to me about coding in the past and I see a balance is required and if too many items have a Code 1 then improvements may take the wrong order, but also there is a tendency to say only Code 1 items need repairing. Some items like bare live wires sticking out of a wall where a light has been removed are Code 1 as you say a point where, what ever the rules say, you would isolate and report rather than report and isolate.
Code 3 should be rare as most things should be investigated but there are items where power can’t be turned off until Christmas as it supplies the server etc. where one is left with no option. One item I have seem given Code 3 is asbestos as this does not present an electrical danger but does prevent testing.
Code 4 for light in a bathroom with no RCD protection is fine. But there are items that would have been allowed in 1930’s which are not allowed now so I would only go back one edition to give a Code 4 so now sockets likely to be used outside without RCD protection maybe should get Code 2?

But where the proper functioning of the electrical installation for the intended use is affected i.e. too many spot lights which will regularity trip out the MCB have been fitted I see no Code which can be used. It is not Code 1 or Code 2 as there is no danger all that will happen is trip will open. It is not Code 3 as we can test it and also it is not Code 4 as regulation 132.1 has been there for many years likely in some form since the very first set of regulations. And to have no Code for such a basic fault makes one question the whole idea of Codes.
Again and again I see arguments between what should attract Code 1 and Code 2.
No earth to a Class II lighting fitting is likely Code 2 when feeding a ceiling rose but feeding a SELV transformer one may not even consider it as a fault but feed a switch with plastic dry line box may be Code 2 but feeding metal backing boxes one may find the mounting screws can become live so maybe then it should be a Code 1?
The Electrical Safety Council tell us in 1966 no earths were required so Code 4! I don’t think so?
Some of there suggestions do seem a little ill thought out for example if a customer wants a new consumer unit fitting with RCD protection but refuses to allow you to change all his class 1 light fitting for class 2 when there is no earth to the lights one is to refuse to do the work. Not sure refusing to fit safety devices because the installation is not safe really makes much sense? Although one would no be able to turn the power back on to lighting circuits.
Never happened to me. I have always been able to persuade people to make the installation safe.
But I have when we had a report of someone getting a shock and been unable to find a cause fitted RCD’s while further tests were being made.
Also no Code for Isolator in wrong position, or safety switches of wrong type, lacking emergency stops, bad access, Single instead of twin circuits emergency system i.e. all the things that caused my accident would attract no Codes.
I remember a case where we were PAT testing angle grinders and some guards were damaged and the guy PAT testing said they were not electrical so was not on his check list. He made a good point that he was not trained in abrasive wheels so was not qualified to say if the guards were up to the standard required. Fair to safety officer we were all then trained in abrasive wheels. As rightly he said if some one sees a sticker saying tested even if it says electrical tested they are lead to believe it is safe to use.

So I am not convinced the Coding system as it stands is fit for purpose. Although I suppose I will still have to use it. I do note where emergency lights are required or at least it is suggested personal torches are carried in the area as there is no outside light available.
When working in the tunnel in Hong Kong it was a sackable offence to go down without a head light just in case we lost power.
Next will be proper risk assessments and method statements so maybe I should shut up?

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by sparx » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:38 pm

Hi agn. Eric,
One item I will refer to is the one about no cpc in lighting circuit which was normal once.
I have bought from my local wholesaler (Rexel-Senate) some labels saying something like:
"circuit# xxxxxx & xxxxxx have no cpc & only double insulated fittings should be installed"
This wording comes from a publication which I can't find at the moment to quote from but it was an 'official' guide from one of the organisations I belong to so could be IET, ECA, or NAPIT.
If you accept this guidance then a code 4 would be in order, and the consumer unit can go ahead with the label affixed. As you say why refuse to make safer even if not totally perfect result.
NAPIT's stance is that PIR's should be done to latest standard ie 17th, updated to July 08. thus virtually no installation being tested will fully comply and we should expect several code 4's.
Code 3 'requires further investigation' could well fit your eg. of too many lights on a circuit, since it's not urgent, doesn't cause a safety hazard but may put the circuit outside voltdrop limit when fully in use.
there for can't justify spending time investigating as part of current PIR.
As we agree much variation in opinion, but all the time this is so no one can be accused of non compliance so it's not all bad!
BW Sparx

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