Seal of approval
SELECT Member Scott McLean explains how being part of the
Approved Certifier scheme has brought extra benefits to his business
Even with 30 years of electrical experience behind him, Scott McLean still likes to be kept on his toes, updating himself and his team with the latest electrical regulations so he can offer the highest standard of work to his customers.
That’s why he joined SELECT and, at the same time, applied for Approved Body status for his company Stirling Electrical Services Ltd and Approved Certifier for himself when the Local Authority Scotland Building Warrant Scheme was launched in 2005.
In fact, these two events acted as a springboard for his company that now comprises 11 employees, helping them build a strong reputation for high quality electrical and security system services.
Scott said: “In 2005, we were proud that our business was at a standard where we could apply for SELECT membership, and, as the new building standards certification register scheme had just launched, it made practical business sense to apply for this as well.
“We recognised the importance of what this new register could play in setting a high standard, not only for approved bodies and certifiers, but also to help improve the awareness amongst the public and local authorities about the importance of choosing a registered electrician with up-to-date training.”
Raising the standards
Scott believes being part of the scheme brings multiple benefits to his company and his team, and also reflects more widely on the high standards and professionalism in the electrical construction industry.
He explained: “From an approved certifier point of view, it keeps certifiers on their toes by making sure their knowledge of the current electrical and building regulations is up to date as well as, and crucially, their health and safety training.
“From an approved body point of view, it helps the business maintain a high standard of work and a willingness to constantly improve and provide training to our team to update their knowledge.”
The company’s approved status is publicised on its website and business documentation, such as quotations, but Scott admits more could be done to publicise the scheme, particularly with the local authorities, who are the ultimate ‘verifiers’.
He explained: “We’re proud to be in the scheme and promote that fact on our website and through advertising, but electrical companies as a whole could benefit from an awareness-raising campaign to help local authorities and the general public understand the importance of choosing an approved body. In my opinion, some local authorities could still do a lot more to help promote the importance of using a company on the scheme.”
“Some local authorities could still do a lot more to help promote the importance of using a company on the scheme”
Understanding the benefit
The scheme had a stuttering start back in 2005 as Scott believed that not many local authorities really understood the process or the benefits.
This situation has since been partly rectified following Scottish Government audits, which were critical of some councils on their uptake of the scheme. Special presentations and Toolbox Talks by SELECT also helped more local authorities understand both the procedure and the benefits.
He added: “While those changes have been very welcome in enhancing the scheme, I believe there is still too much leeway for verifiers to use alternative methods of verifying installations other than using approved bodies and certifiers. Unfortunately, the only way that I see that this can be improved is if the campaign by SELECT to protect the title of an electrician as a profession is successful. Not only will that improve the overall training and standard of all electricians in Scotland,I believe the certifier of construction register is the ideal platform from which to adapt and operate the new professional electrical register.”
While the coronavirus pandemic initially stemmed new business opportunities for Scott, he used the downtime to look at how his business operated and decided to bring forward a remote working project he had planned, which is now delivering benefits to the business, its work as an approved body and the wellbeing of his employees.
He explained: “There was no point in just waiting and sitting back to see how things panned out, so I decided to take a good hard look at how we operate some of our day-to-day systems.
“One of the outcomes of this is our new remote job scheduling software project, which I had planned before but brought forward by six months. When this is fully operational it will allow us to operate every aspect of our business remotely via online tablets and away from our office premises.
“We can now have all the information we need at our fingertips and, as our team already has remote access to electrical certification and the building warrant certificates, the new job scheduling software will enhance that facility even more, allowing us to increase what we can already do onsite.
“This will not only increase our efficiency and productivity but will help keep our team safer with physical distancing.”
Scott believes there are other ways to enhance the efficiency of the scheme’s process by increasing the number of employed approved certifiers on site. Reducing the need to have different people to install, inspect and sign off the whole electrical and building standards process can only be helpful to not only the business and client, but also help physical distancing measures with fewer bodies required on site.
He added: “I think that the COVID-19 situation has given us all the chance to stop and reflect on how we do business and carry out work. By reflecting on those old practices, we can all help create a more efficient, productive and safer site, and I think we have already seen a lot of changes implemented.
“As approved bodies and approved certifiers, we are already trained in and aware of health and safety issues, and that should hold us in good stead to encourage others on-site to adhere to and adapt to the new way of working.”
Safe and sound
So, what would he say to those organisations who are perhaps unaware of certification or haven’t used it?
“Having been in the industry for 30 years and seen the dangers of work carried out by some electricians, the certification scheme is critical to driving up the standards.
“The importance of up-to-date training should never be forgotten; an electrician who qualified 20 years ago may still be able to undertake electrical work, but to be on the certification register you are required to be trained and up to speed on the latest electrical safety measures and building regulations. It’s that up-to-date knowledge that is critical to being able to safely install and test electrical work to meet today’s regulations and, ultimately, protect life and property.”