I’ve been learning! Part 1 – BS7909

3 days during the beast from the east saw me travelling into London pretending to be a commuter, however most of the commuters stayed home and the trains were quiet! (Yes, I know this was a few months ago but I’ve been busy so haven’t had time to write this until now!) Two very interesting days of theory following by a practical exam resulted in a C&G NA7909 qualification.

The course as a whole was good at refreshing and enhancing knowledge, along with giving me an official body saying I know something! However what it did clarify to me is how some people are doing things very wrong, but importantly before someone calls their lawyer, it’s being done with the thought that it is all ok and they’re not doing anything wrong. Now, I know even that is a controversial statement, but actually that bloke running 100m of 1.5mm blue artic across a field is endangering people, as if the socket comes off the end it won’t cause a fault current big enough to trip the breaker at the end quick enough to comply with the law. Quite a worrying thought.

There’s also another side, as I overheard a story being re-told by a technician (of whom I’ve no idea of their electrical knowledge), saying he’d had a disagreement over something with someone who said the phrase “But I’ve done the BS7909 course”. As to who was right overall I don’t know, I didn’t hear enough and wasn’t in a position to ask more, but it shows that even after the course, there’s still going to be some misunderstanding. What shouldn’t get lost in all of this is that the main reason for doing the course is to ensure we remain legal and compliant with the law. 

I should also add in at this point that BS7909 isn’t a law, so you don’t have to comply. However, what the guidelines in BS7909 do is guide you in ways to comply with the law, so ignoring something in them that causes some to get hurt or worse could leave you justifying why you didn’t comply with that, so at RP at least we don’t view them as guidelines, we view them as the minimum requirements. 

I could go on about the course for ages, as I found it really interesting and love to bore people with the information, but actually for a lot of events, even more now the events industry is turning more and more to LED and lower power solutions, complying with it really isn’t that hard! A bit of planning, a bit of testing and you’re covered. Under 6kVa (designed to be a job that plugs into a ring main) and you just need to test an RCD and use a basic socket tester in your socket, not a really hard process. It’s just the educating of people to do this that needs to improve, this course definitely is a good starting point for this. I’m certainly trying to help people too, advising clients and subcontractors on how they can comply. It’s amazing the amount of faulty sockets look normal, that you’d just use but a simple test has revealed you shouldn’t.

I’ll finish with a final story, of a call a few months after the course. It was from a friend of a friend of a friend, who had installed some LED screens (temporary for a few months) and the venue wouldn’t let them have power except for testing and they were after someone to go and test. I spoke to a contractor we use as I couldn’t do it due to other commitments and they were equally busy but we both felt they’d missed the point a bit, as BS7909 stresses that you should be planning a safe system, not making a system and seeing if it’s safe, which is effectively what we were being asked to do. 

So that concludes my ramble (lets face it, it’s not really what I’d call a blog!) about BS7909, would be more than happy to hear others thoughts about these ramblings and see where you stand!

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