Electrical Contracting News (ECN) April 2017 - Page 6

INDUSTRY NEWS

INDUSTRY NEWS

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP IS KEY TO ECO EXTENSION BENEFITS
Homeowners and private tenants living in electrically heated homes will be amongst the biggest winners following the extension of the government ’ s Energy Company Obligation ( ECO ) scheme , according to Dimplex .
In its response to the ECO : Help to Heat Consultation , the BEIS confirmed it will limit the number of boiler installations eligible through the ECO scheme to 25,000 and increase Affordable Warmth as a proportion of the overall scheme from 36 per cent to 70 per cent of estimated supplier spend .
Under its Affordable Warmth Obligation , the means tested ECO scheme uses funding from energy suppliers to offer heating and insulation improvements for low income and vulnerable households . It has been well received since it was first launched in 2013 but despite changes to the ‘ scoring ’ system , disproportionately fewer homes heated by electric have been awarded funding to date .
By directly tackling fuel poverty , these latest changes will offer extra support for those living with inefficient electric heating systems in owner occupied and privately rented properties , Dimplex says .
Chris Stammers , product marketing director for Dimplex , commented , ‘ There are some very encouraging signs in the government ’ s response , especially for those in the private rental sector , which has grown enormously in recent years and now has the highest proportion of fuel poor households of any tenure .
‘ Around 13 per cent of private rented homes are electrically heated , compared to a national average of just eight per cent , and due to a combination of factors , including poor heating system specification and a lack of investment from landlords , many of those tenants are paying more than they need to heat their homes .’
The Energy Company Obligation ( ECO ) is a government energy efficiency scheme in Great Britain to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty .
SURVEY : ENGINEERING SERVICES SECTOR ENDS 2016 ON HIGH
Over three in four ( 78 per cent ) engineering services firms say turnover increased or remained steady during the final quarter of 2016 , according to new findings within the sector-wide ‘ Building Engineering Business Survey ’, sponsored by Scolmore .
The survey is now being run in partnership by the Electrical Contractors ’ Association ( ECA ), the Building Engineering Services Association ( BESA ), and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT . It had 529 responses from across the building engineering services sector in January .
However , over six in 10 ( 61 per cent ) engineering services firms say their material costs increased during the final quarter of 2016 . Over the same period , almost four in 10 survey respondents ( 39 per cent ) said that labour costs had increased . Furthermore , almost six in 10 businesses ( 57 per cent ) said that they were not being paid within 30 days for public sector work , in breach of legislation .
SELECT managing director Newell McGuiness commented , ‘ This is the first time that SELECT members have participated in the business survey and we are encouraged at the confidence in future workload opportunities . However , this is tempered a little by the increase in material costs , which are beginning to be felt and the ongoing issue of extended payment periods , particularly in the private commercial sector .’
Businesses of all sizes had a strong final quarter , with over three-quarters of micro , small , medium and large businesses all seeing turnover rise or remain constant . Very large businesses ( turnover over £ 20m ) had the strongest quarter , with over half ( 54 per cent ) seeing turnover increase .
Looking at the first quarter of 2017 , the business outlook is very positive , with almost nine in 10 businesses ( 86 per cent ) expecting their turnover to increase or stay the same .
The engineering services sector covers a broad range of work including electrical , mechanical , renewables , heating and ventilating , datacomms , and fire and security systems .
ECIC WARNS ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS OF ‘ PERFECT STORM ’
ECIC is urging electrical contractors to be aware of their responsibilities to bona fide and labour only subcontractors as the need for skills is leading to increasing demand for these resources .
Richard Forrest Smith , CEO of ECIC , said , ‘ Embedding a culture of health and safety in the electrical contracting sector is vital but a number of factors are currently at play which make this particularly challenging . The UK construction sector has an ageing workforce , demand for skills and diversification of skills has led to an increasing reliance on subcontractors , both labour only contractors and bona fide subcontractors ; and now we are seeing strengthening demand for skills . It could be the start of a perfect storm . It ’ s imperative that electrical contractors fully understand their responsibilities and liabilities in respect of the subcontractors they employ on site .’
Labour only subcontractors work under the direction of the contractor who will typically provide tools and materials . In the eyes of the law this is often regarded as a master and servant relationship and the contractor ’ s duty of care towards labour only subcontractors is therefore the same as to their own staff . As such , their health and safety responsibilities reflect this . They may also need to implement additional health and safety procedures when considering the specific skill and experience of a labour only subcontractor .
In contrast , bona fide subcontractors are generally deemed to be specialist contractors who set their own systems of work using their own tools and materials . A bona fide subcontractor is responsible for managing its own health and safety risks for their own element of the contract .
However , as the main contractor is , in most cases , contractually liable to the CDM coordinator / site owner for works undertaken by the subcontractors they employ , they still retain responsibility for overall health and safety on a contract . They must therefore satisfy themselves of the adequacy of the subcontractors ’ health and safety documentation and ensure that they adopt an embedded approach to health and safety reflecting their own culture .
Richard Forrest Smith concludes , ‘ Contract sites are complex places to work where risks and hazards can change daily . There is often a wide number of contractors with differing relationships and dependence on other trades to complete designated tasks so that they can undertake their work , plus there will be a range of skills and experience active at any one time . All contractors have a responsibility for health and safety and are required to work together to maintain and ensure a safe environment . Electrical contractors needing support and advice in risk management should speak to their insurance broker . As a member of the ECA they will also have access to valuable resources to help them understand and fulfil their responsibilities to subcontractors .’
SMOKE ALARM RESEARCH MAY HELP TO SAVE CHILDREN ’ S LIVES
Researchers from the University of Dundee are seeking hundreds of families to help them trial a new smoke alarm sound aimed specifically at waking children .
The number of lives lost as a result of fires has fallen by half since home usage of smoke alarms became widespread . However , there is evidence to suggest that some children do not wake to commonly used smoke alarms .
This has prompted a research study by professor Niamh Nic Daeid of the University of Dundee ’ s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification ( CAHID ) and her research student Dave Coss , a fire
Research has found that children respond to different tones and frequencies of alarm than adults .
investigator and watch commander with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service . The project is also supported by Derby Housing and smoke alarm manufacturer Ei Electronics .
The research showed that children respond to different tones and frequencies of alarm than adults and that boys and girls are wakened by a different combination of sounds . The research team investigated different sounds and found that a low frequency intermittent bleep-rest-bleep pattern followed by a recorded spoken message appeared to be effective in waking up both boys and girls , with preliminary tests indicating a 90 per cent success rate .
The researchers are now asking families to take part in what will be the largest citizen science project ever attempted in this research area .
Professor Niamh NicDaeid said , ‘ We know that smoke alarms are vital in making our homes and communities safe in the event of a fire . Our research has demonstrated however , that the current smoke alarms used do not always wake children from sleep .
‘ The first stage of the project tested 34 children , both boys and girls , of varying ages , to see if they woke when a smoke alarm was activated . The tests were carried out in the family home and 80 per cent of the children , including all of the boys slept through the alarm . Protecting our children in the event of fire is so fundamentally important that we want to involve parents and their children in expanding this research .’
Anyone interested in taking part in the smoke alarm study needs to have children under 16 years of age and should contact the research team at : www . derbys-fire . gov . uk / keepingsafe / smoke-alarm-study /.
6 | April 2017