- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Assembly Member Joyce Watson (Mid and West Wales) is backing a campaign to protect people against electric shocks and electrical fires in the home.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC), a UK charity committed to reducing fires, deaths and injuries from electrical accidents at home and at work, is encouraging more people in Wales to install devices that reduce the risk of electrical accidents.
Residual Current Devices or RCDs are designed to constantly monitor the electric current flowing along a circuit and switch off the circuit if it detects faults such as somebody touching a live part of a wire.
Following a meeting with ESC director Phil Buckle at the Assembly on Monday (23 April), Mrs Watson voiced concerns about the safety of people living without RCD protection, particularly those in private rented accommodation. She said:
“Government research shows faulty electrical products and wiring are the major cause of accidental fires in UK homes. Every year about 70 people are killed and 350,000 seriously injured in electrical accidents at home. Many of these accidents and deaths could be prevented by RCD protection, yet more than half of us don’t have it.”
According to the charity’s research, RCDs could prevent up to 20% of accidental house fires that start due to electrical fault. The device is required in all new build homes but many existing houses do not have the device, the charity claims.
The charity is calling on the Welsh Government to look at:
• Mandatory wiring inspections across the private and social rented sectors;
• Making the fitting of RCDs in rented properties mandatory; and
• Introducing a requirement for a wiring inspection prior to the sale of domestic property.
ESC research shows 20% of UK adults receiving an electric shock at home live in privately rented properties but only 13% of the UK adult population live in privately rented properties.
Mrs Watson added:
“Poorly maintained electrical installations and a lack of knowledge among some landlords of their responsibility for electrical safety means tenants in private rented accommodation are more at risk than homeowners or those in social housing. This is especially concerning given the growing number of people renting in Wales.
“This is certainly something the Welsh government should look at and I will be writing to the Housing Minister to ask him to investigate RCD coverage in Wales.”
Speaking about the ESC’s work in Wales, Mr Buckle said:
“The threat of electrical accidents is real and serious for many in the private rented sector in Wales, and landlords need to be fully aware of their duty of care to tenants regarding electrical safety in properties they let. That’s why the ESC is calling for the Government’s imminent white paper on the private rented sector to include measures establishing that responsibility, and we are grateful for the support of influential Assembly Members like Mrs Watson in raising awareness of this issue.”
For more information about the Electrical Safety Council’s Plus into Safety campaign, visit http://www.esc.org.uk/public/news-and-campaigns/campaigns/plug-into-safety/ or contact Laura Sainsbury on 020 7234 3335