For those of us already working in the industry this will sound like a strange question because every electrician in the UK needs to hold and work to the 17th Edition. However for those changing careers or on the fringes of the industry some initial research will reveal that a 17th Edition Qualification is certainly something you will need to hold if you are planning on working with electricity in the UK. When talking about the 17th Edition people are actually talking about the British Standard BS 7671 "Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations." You may find it referred to as:
UK wiring regulations
17th edition wiring regulations
BS7671 wiring regs
All of these terms refer to the same thing.
What is the 17th Edition?
The 17th edition wiring regulations are the latest incarnation of a long line of wiring regulations published by the IET on a regular basis. By regular we mean every few years since it was first published in 1882. Before the 17th Edition every electrician needed to hold their 16th Edition and in a few years time it is likely that they will need to attain and be working to the 18th edition whenever it is released.
These are in essence the standard set for all UK electrical installations in domestic, commercial, industrial and other buildings. The wiring regulations simply put are a set of rules by which all electrical installations must comply.
They state things like where they apply (their scope), how the work should be installed and how to comply with the electricity at work regulations and other health and safety legislation. All new electrical installations in the UK must comply with the latest version of the wiring regulations and as such if you are installing electrics on a regular basis it is an absolute must that you are up to date with the latest version. Although the Wiring Regulations are non-statutory, they are referenced in several UK statutory documents and in most cases, for practical purposes, have legal force and can be used as defence in a court of law.
Who needs to know the 17th Edition?
Absolutely anyone installing electrics should know their 17th edition wiring regulations. By “know” we should clarify that no one has memorised this rather large detailed book back to front (except maybe our tutors), but rather you need to be fully aware of it’s contents and how to refer to them as and when you come across different types of installations. If you are looking for a job in the industry or looking to register as a domestic installer then you will need this qualification, however holding a 17th edition qualification does not in itself mean you are qualified to work as an electrician or register on a domestic installer scheme.
It is also important to note that the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations are also very useful for those working on the fringes of the electrical industry such as maintenance managers, engineers, project managers, architects and so on. For them the course may be harder to pass due to some of the technical jargon but can be invaluable to complement existing skills and give them an understanding of what is needed for electrical installations in a variety of situations.
What are Amendments?
Every so often we get a new incarnation of the wiring regulations which is why we have gone from the 1st to 17th Edition, however these are not amendments these are new editions. Between editions we sometimes have changes and innovations like electric vehicle charging that warrant what is known as an Amendment. Since we have had the 17th Edition there have been 3 Amendments with the most recent coming into force on the 1st July 2015.
Whilst it is generally a requirement that electricians and domestic installers hold a valid qualification in the latest IET Wiring Regulations Edition this is not true of the Amendments. Having said that all installers are still required to install to the latest amendment. Usually when an Amendment is made a new book will be published and it is important that installers update themselves on the changes and hold the latest version of the book. Since the 17th Edition has been in force we have gone from a red to green and now to a yellow book. We have published an online tutorial for anyone looking to find the key changes between the Green and Yellow books here.
When is the 18th edition coming out?
At present we don’t know but there is speculation that it will be published in 2018. When we have a confirmed date you will probably read it here first.
Are there update courses?
Update courses are only required when a new edition is published. When the 17th Edition was first published there was a 1 day update course that helped you move from 16th to 17th Edition. However this has since been discontinued due to the number of amendments. We expect the same to be available when the 18th Edition does finally rear it head.