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Gate Safe - Five Years of Making Gates Safe

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 22nd September 2015

September 2010 - September 2015

23rd September 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of Gate Safe - the charity founded following the tragic deaths of two young children in separate automated gate accidents – but five years on Gate Safe insists there is still much to be done to improve the safety of automated gates and barriers in the UK.

With a further five deaths and eight ‘near miss’ accidents since the original fatalities in 2010 and industry experts claiming that over 90% of automated gates potentially pose a serious safety risk, Gate Safe has launched a petition.  The campaign encourages government to consider the introduction of planning permission consent (which would require the gate to be fitted by a suitably trained professional installer) in a bid to regulate all new automated gate installations, putting an end to the creation of any further unsafe gates.

Further initiatives planned to support the official fifth anniversary include: the roll out of the innovative interactive Safe Gate Visualiser; the launch of a series of guidance documents designed to provide ‘safe gate’ guidance to a range of specialist audiences; the roll out of a series of blogs written by Gate Safe and various guest bloggers; the launch of a new video; a dedicated media relations drive and the launch of an awards scheme designed to identify examples of best practice within the installer community.

The original Gate Safe Summit, back in September 2010 represented a pioneering step designed to bring together representatives from a broad cross section of companies and generic trade / safety organisations, which Gate Safe identified as all having a role to play in calling for the introduction of tighter guidance pertaining to automated gate safety.   Since then Gate Safe has joined forces with eleven* powerful organisations / opinion former bodies to enlist their support in communicating with their respective audiences to drive home the importance of adopting the appropriate protocol to deliver a safe and legally compliant gate.

Commenting on the anniversary, Gate Safe founder Richard Jackson says, “Although we are proud of a number of important achievements, which includes the origination of the very first accredited training course specifically designed to provide guidance on the safety requirements for an automated gate, we are certainly not resting on our laurels and believe that there is still much to be done to prevent any further accidents or fatalities occurring.  Whilst we are not suggesting that planning permission is the only route to achieving this, we do believe that the introduction of a more formal procedure for anyone wanting to install a powered gate will go some way to reducing the number of illegal and unsafe gates fitted by what can only be termed ‘cowboy’ installers.  We will be working with our Patron, Madeleine Moon MP to see how best we can leverage support for this petition.  In the meantime, we are hopeful that with the continued support of our supporters as well as the introduction of our user friendly Safe Gate interactive tool, we can use the fifth anniversary milestone as a means to reignite public / media interest in the importance of automated gate safety.”

Anyone interested in lending their support to the Gate Safe petition can do so by clicking on the following link: https://goo.gl/9HCfVd.

You can find out more about Gate Safe Courses here.


Should Electricians Take A Deposit From Customers?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 16th September 2015

Securing work from a customer is always a great feeling – all that hard work of quoting and negotiating seems worthwhile when you get that call to go ahead from your customer.  However that feeling can quickly disappear if the customer doesn't agree a start date or worse still pulls out or tries to change dates at the last minute. This can leave you out of pocket and twiddling your thumbs when you could be earning.

So how can you protect yourself from the situation of lost work and in turn lost income?  One of the simplest ways is to request a deposit upfront from the customer once they have accepted your quote.

Not all electricians are comfortable asking for a deposit, in fact most electricians are still not sure whether they should or could ask for a deposit, but today we will discuss why taking a deposit is a good idea and why it won't harm the relationship with your customer.

Dispelling the myth that taking a deposit is a bad idea!

There is often an unspoken feeling or myth that asking for a deposit is in some way a bad idea.  Taking a deposit is not a bad idea.  What is a bad idea is taking a deposit and then not turning up to do the work.  Unfortunately this has led to some hesitation on both sides about paying/asking for a deposit to begin with.

However taking a deposit safe guards you and your business against potential losses such as the purchasing of materials and overheads in advance of the job starting.  It also protects you against turning up to the job to find the customer no longer needs the work doing or got someone else to do the job for them and didn't let you know.

No doubt, the experienced sparkys amongst us will be familiar with the situations above which is why it is important and not a bad thing to do to ask for a deposit.

Taking a deposit means your customer is serious about having the work done and you can confidently plan your schedule. When you have a business to run, you cannot afford to be let down by clients.  It is not unreasonable to take a deposit up front at the point at which you agree a specific date for the work to start.  Customers who are serious about the work won't have a problem with paying a reasonable deposit upfront to not only confirm the booking but also to contribute towards the upfront cost of doing the job.

Asking for deposit is becoming more commonplace now. Here at Trade Skills 4 U we take a deposit for all our bookings on the day we receive a booking request.  We ask that the balance is then paid with 21 days of the course beginning.  This safeguards us against last minute cancellations or non-turn ups when someone on the waiting list could have had the place.

Taking a deposit is not only peace of mind for you from a business perspective, but also means that your customer is not planning on letting you down.  Almost all genuine customers are happy to pay a deposit upon booking.

Taking a deposit protects you incurring costs if the customer doesn't pay

Not being paid at the end of the job is quite rare thankfully, however you do not want to risk your business cash flow by paying for materials out of your own pocket. This is another perfectly valid reason why you should ask your customer for a deposit when securing the booking. If a customer is unable or unwilling to pay a deposit then this could be an indicator that there could be problems with getting paid further down the line. As such taking a deposit is a great way to identifying these potential issues before you start the work.

How to ask for a deposit

You should always make a customer aware that you take a deposit when you quote. It should not be a surprise to them once they confirm they want you to do the work.  When you first meet with a customer it is always worth explaining why you take a deposit and ensure they are confident that you will turn up and deliver what you say you will. If you are established with a good online reputation on a site like Checkatrade then customers are going to feel more comfortable paying you a deposit as there is some comeback if you do not show. If you explain that by paying a deposit now will guarantee you the slot they want in your diary at a time and day they choose, they are normally happy to pay the deposit that you are asking for.

If you are new to the industry you may want to hold back on asking for a deposit until you have a more solid reputation to give customers the confidence to pay you in advance.

Asking for a deposit of 30% on every job above £200 is not unreasonable and will protect you and your business from being out of pocket.  It is not normally necessary to ask for a deposit for jobs under £200 unless there is a large portion of up front costs.





CSCS CRO Cards Changing From 1st October 2015

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 7th September 2015

If you are working on site you will need to have some kind of CSCS card or for electricians an ECS card. The electrical industry has had the dedicated ECS card scheme for many years now and the requirements of this scheme is that you should have a suitable set of qualification or be working towards them (see our blog post here) in order to get a card. However there is a CSCS card which is called a Construction Related Occupation (CRO) Card which is designed for construction workers who work in areas where there is no nationally recognised qualification.

However CSCS has seen huge increases in applications for this card and essentially believe that it is being used as a back door onto site for many who simply haven’t got the necessary qualifications. In fact they have issued over 300,000 CRO cards since 2005. 

In July 2014 they launched the new Labourer card which is only issued if the applicant can show they are working towards a specific occupation. Despite 35,000 green labourer cards being issued CSCS have also seen a huge increase in the number of applicants for the CRO card. They believe this is simply because many applicants simply see it as a simple shortcut to avoid taking the necessary qualifications for their chosen skill.

Part of the reason that the CRO is issued is that the worker may have multiple skills which don’t fall into one category. However even in that situation workers will be asked to pick a single occupation which will be displayed on the card.

What happens on the 1st October 2015?

So from the 1st October 2015 a number of changes will come into to force:

All CRO cards issued from 1st October 2015 will expire on 30th September 2017 and are not renewable.

You will be expected to register for a nationally recognised construction related qualification before the card expires.

Only one occupation will be displayed on your CRO card from 1stOctober 2015.

CSCS will stop issuing CRO cards from 31st March 2017.

It is important to note that existing CRO cards issued before 1st October 2015 that expire after 30th September 2017 will remain valid until their expiry date.

So simply put this means that if you want to keep working on site you must pick a skill and at least register for a qualification and start working towards it. If you still haven’t registered for a construction related qualification by the 30th September 2017 you will be unable to renew your card and will be essentially unable to step foot on a building site.

This sounds quite drastic but realistically it make perfect sense. There is plenty of time for everyone already in the industry to start working towards a clear skill or trade that they can fully qualify in. This will in turn improve standards and safety on site in the long run.

How does this impact electricians?

For electricians these changes should have no impact whatsoever. That’s because the dedicated ECS scheme which is run by CSCS and the JIB has meant that since the year 2000 anyone working with electrics on site should already be qualified or working towards their fully qualified status in order to gain a card. If you know anyone working with electrics who owns a CRO card then they really shouldn’t be.

The real issue here seems to be that it will hit all those multi skilled “labourers” who may be a jack of all trades but a master of none. There are also numerous trades out there that do not have a nationally recognised qualification. In that situation applicants should probably call CSCS for advice as they have said work is already underway to develop new qualifications to fill this gap.

If you are unsure which qualifications you do need then simply use this handy online card finder tool.

Remember if you want to know more about ECS check out our previous blog post here.


Categories: cscs

Which all in one multifunction testers are best?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 2nd September 2015

A multifunction tester is an electrician’s best friend – an integral part of every electrician’s tool box. However, the decision to buy a tester can be difficult.  They're an expensive piece of kit and whilst you don't want to spend more than what you have to, it is important that a multifunction tester is going to do what you want it to.

Does price matter?

To be fair, the clue to the quality of multifunction tester often lies within the price.  The tolerance/accuracy levels tend to be much better with higher end models and some essential features can be either missing or become a costly upgrade.

Saying that though, many electricians have an idea of the main players in the field such as Fluke or Megger, however sometimes budget does not allow for the big brands.  So we have decided to take a look at some of the most popular testers in the field to find out exactly what you are getting for your money.

Megger MFT1720 (£600 - £810)

Megger is well known in the industry and is associated with top quality and features.  Many electricians will use no other tester, and is literally is a household name in the electrical industry.  Therefore the Megger MFT1720 is one of the leading names in the field and is synonymous with quality.  We carried out a review recently of the MFT1720 and can certainly vouch for it's superior quality and features.

Phase rotation service

Auto RCD

2 Wire Loop test

Backlit LCD display

Non trip loop testing

Kewtech KT63 (£430 - £480)

Kewtech is a well known brand within the electrical industry and is known for supplying testers that fulfil the testing obligations.  Their testers are innovative, accurate and reliable.  Their KT63 features a 5 in 1 multifunction tester which includes:

Five in 1 multifunction tester measures insulation, continuity and more

16 different RCD tests for current ranges for versatile testing

Lock down testing for hands free measurements

Seaward Powertest (£330 - £485)

If you are looking for quality and an instrument that will last for years the n Seaward is a great choice.

Loop test in 5 seconds

Integral probe means reading results easily

Auto RCD test

Fluke 1653B (£600 - £900)

Fluke is a much wanted label amongst electricians and is seen as a desirable piece of kit in toolboxes

Fast high current loop test

Variable RCD current mode for customized settings

Pass/Fail indication for RCD tests

Most important features of a multifunction tester

Safety and performance are the two most important features of multifunction testers – they are also two of the most critical requirements for any electrical system.  A properly functioning grounding system is essential for any multifunction tester.

Remember you generally get what you pay for so you may find it is worth investing in a higher end product as it will have all the functions you will need and last for many years saving you money in the long run.