Q&A British Standards

Cable Talk speaks to BASEC chief executive Dr Jeremy Hodge who expresses the importance of using products and following installation procedures that are certified to meet British standards for quality and safety.

British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) is a recognised leader in product certification services for electrical cables. It is known for its professional stamp of quality in the field of cable certification.

What benefits can be gained from using products (cables) and procedures that are BASEC approved and meet British standards?

A: Benefits will include: straightforward regulatory and compliance processes, intercomponent fit, speed of installation, reduced risk of problems on commissioning, longer lifetimes before maintenance or replacement, peace of mind for the designer and installer.

What are the cost implications of using cables that are BASEC approved and meet British standards compared to those that don’t? Please explain initial cost differences plus life-cycle cost comparisons.

A: Non-compliant products might appear cheaper, but the additional costs of complete failure of materials, poor fit, rework, replacements, delays to completion, penalty clauses etc. are rarely factored in.  Procedures compliant with international standards provide overall faster installation through familiarity, ease of inspection and checking, and choice of sub-contractor.

What British standards are typically followed in Scotland? Please mention if it is law to follow these standards in any country or if they are accepted best practice on all projects.

A: British standards commonly in use in Scotland include all British and European standards, and where necessary IEC and ISO standards.  For electrics this is particularly the IEE Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) and the product standards referenced therein, which together form the technical code for electrical installations.  This approach is mandated by Scottish Building Standards, and the provisions of the certification and verification schemes operated by Scottish Building Standards apply in many cases.  Contractors are also encouraged to participate in one of the schemes approved by the Construction Licensing Executive (CLE) - the self regulating body for the construction trades in Scotland, setting standards for quality of workmanship.

What are the current trends in Scotland in terms of following British Standards? has there been a fall in demand for products that meet British standards since the economic downturn began?

A: The economic downturn has affected the overall level of activity, in particular new starts on projects, rather than simply affecting price and quality.  Designers and project managers are continuing to specify and use quality products and procedures.  After all, a project with problems due to poor products or procedures will be of lower value than a project delivered on time and to high quality.  Another effect of the economic situation has been that some imported products have become more expensive due to the fall in the value of sterling, currently making British-made products more attractive.

In addition to quality aspects of using products and procedures that meet British Standards, what are the health and safety benefits; and the implications of using products and procedures that don’t meet the standards?

A: Health and safety is an important issue across the world and especially in construction.  A number of electrocutions and serious fires have resulted from the use of non-compliant products or methods.  Firms with a bad reputation may lose out on future projects, and prosecutions may follow.  However, it is not just about the construction process; plans for health and safety should include the whole life of the project as well, for example safety in maintenance activities.

Is there anything else of importance regarding standards and certifications for the construction industry?

A: Projects may be planned with the best of intentions as regards specifications of product conformity to British standards, certifications and approvals, but unless these specifications are cascaded and enforced down the supply chain through subcontractors and suppliers it is possible for substitution to take place.  Designers and project managers should take positive steps to make sure checks take place at every stage, including a final inspection as goods are delivered to site, and works are underway.

Further information about BASEC and advice on faulty cables is available at or you can contact BASEC directly on 01908 267300


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