Verification of Safety

Dr Jeremy Hodge, Chief Executive of the British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) stresses the importance of cable verification of safety.

A small but increasing number of installers are using non-British Standard or non-Harmonised types of cable and other electrical products in installations covered by the IEE Wiring Regulations, BS 7671.  European installers working in the UK may also be using such product.  They may be using cables in an un-safe way, such as burying a non-armoured cable without additional protection, using braid as a CPC, or using cable unsuitable for outdoor applications.  Whilst alternative cables might appear cheaper to use, they are likely to be less robustly constructed and not designed with the UK’s Wiring Regulations in mind.

The 17th Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations permits use of alternative, non-standard products but, in clauses 120.3 and 511, a “verification of safety equivalence must be undertaken”.  Unfortunately there is little evidence to suggest that verifications are actually being carried out.  Any deviation from practice must be noted on Electrical Installation Certificates, so it is important to do this to avoid installations being non-compliant.

Carrying out verification of safety should be straightforward for a competent electrical designer.  It should include specifically the size and operating conditions of the proposed cable at the voltage and current load expected.  Also, the external influences that the cable is subject to need to be checked - for example against BS 7540 “Electric Cables: Guide to Use”.  These findings should be compared with the performance of the cable types that are specified in the Wiring Regulations.  The verification of safety equivalence should be formally documented, recorded and passed to the authority signing off the installation.

Installers may feel uncomfortable noting deviations from practice on Electrical Installation Certificates, but verifications of safety are required to ensure safe installations, and the installer will demonstrate their professionalism by doing so.

Further information and assistance is available at,, or contact BASEC directly on 01908 267300.


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