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Prosecutions Loom following “Inadequate Testing” Hearing


“The Testing of this Installation not carried out to a professional standard, if at all”

Was what the sitting judge had to say at a recent court hearing. The hearing was to ascertain whether the death of Emma Shaw was unlawful.

The young mother was electrocuted in her home, by leaking water that had been made ‘live’ due to an undiagnosed fault. During the properties construction a year earlier, a plasterboard screw had penetrated a cable in the partition wall, this had made the metal struts or the partition ‘live’, the incident happened when water, leaking from a hot water cylinder had come into contact with the partition. She had left her 23month old son in a room downstairs whilst she went to deal with the leak.

During the 2-week hearing, it came to light that the person responsible for testing the installation was an untrained electricians mate, who made some glaring mistakes that the supervisor, responsible for checking the work, had failed to spot.

The Jury in the case said that the company had “failed to assess the capabilities of their workforce” and “had failed to comply with their health and safety standards” and had returned the verdict that Miss Shaw had been unlawfully killed.

New evidence has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service who had previously said there was not enough evidence to prosecute anyone.

The Coroner in the case has contacted the Part P regulatory bodies, and asked what can be done to prevent this in future. What that means for you and me, is that the regulations surrounding inspection and testing will be reviewed, when this happens the chances are they will be made much more rigorous. Even if the regulations are not changed they will be more rigorously enforced. At the moment the EAWR 1989 states that anyone carrying out any electrical work whether inspection and test or installation, be COMPETENT. Can YOU prove the competence of everyone that works for you? The tightening of these regulations may well bring an end to supervisors in an office somewhere, signing off jobs that they have never even visited. In our opinion though this can only be seen as a good thing. What it does mean however is that, a vast number of the people out there testing as I write this, will find themselves in a tricky position pretty soon.

We all have those days, usually a Friday afternoon, when all you can think of is getting home and enjoying the weekend. When you think to yourself

“I could get away with not testing these circuits, I’ve only just installed them!”

Well hopefully after reading this, you will realise how important testing your installation really is.

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