This is a question we get asked time and time again. Generally speaking these days you can work as an electrician with most forms of colour blindness, including the most common form which is a red / green deficiency. However if you suspect you may be colour blind you must make sure when you come across older coloured wires which are easier to get confused, that you use tools or a work colleague to identify the correct ones. Most people with the most common forms of colour blindness can manage their condition as and when required, however for some people (very few who can see no colour at all) colour blindness can mean they can’t pursue a career as an electrician and many other careers. Find out more below:
Electrical Apprentices Need To Pass A Colour Blindness Test
If you are looking to register on an apprenticeship scheme there is a colour blindness test that you must pass in order to proceed. This does not apply however, if you are self-funding your training and simply taking your Tech Certs such as the C&G 2365 courses or training as a domestic installer.
Wire Colours and Colour Blindness
Up until the 1970’s single phase electrical wires were coloured green, black and red. This was an issue since the most common form of colour blindness is where red and green are perceived as identical due a reduced sensitivity to red or green light.
As a result since the late 70’s the colour multi coloured (yellow and green) Earth was introduced, however it was only since 2004 that red was phased completely and brown now represents single phase line and blue represents the neutral. See the images below:
Handy to Know
As such these days colour blindness is less of an issue for those working as electricians particularly in a domestic setting. If you are training as a domestic installer or funding your own training as an electrician then there is no pre-requisite to take a colour blindness test. However it is recommended that you are aware of any colour blindness issues to help protect you and others. Although the red, black and green wires have been phased out it is likely that these will still be present in old installations and in those situations electricians must make sure they get things right.
Take a test
You can visit any optician for a colour blindness test, however if you want you can take an initial test online. If you take an online test you must be aware that differences in screen settings, colour settings and brightness make it difficult to rely on the result. However as a quick guide it is worth a shot to see what comes up. The following test opens in a new website window. Once you have completed the test the results will tell you how colour blind you may be. Remember to read the instructions before taking the test. Simply put you need to:
State the number you see
State the number of different coloured lines you can see
If you can not clearly see either a number or 1/2 lines then simply leave the field blank
Click on the image below to launch the test:
Some Fun Handy Apps
If you do suffer from colour blindness it is handy to know that these days there are a number of apps that can help you identify the right colours using a smart phone. Search for some of the following on the App Store or Google Play store and have a go:
Color Blind Pal - This is free and works very simply by naming the colours you aim your phone at. The colour descriptions are clear and simple.
Color ID - This is free and works in almost the same way as the above app. The colour descriptions seem to be fairly creative which may make it harder for users to know if its a simple red or green.