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Howarth speaks out for Safer Structures

George Howarth MP made a compelling case for increased rigour across industry standards at an adjournment debate on cable and fire safety.

The Knowsley MP pointed to the work of the Safer Structures Campaign – an initiative mounted by independent global cable manufacturer Tratos – which is pushing for standards to go ‘beyond the minimum’ to protect people in their homes, public buildings and places of work and education.

The campaign, spearheaded by Tratos CEO Dr Maurizio Bragagni, was behind Mr Howarth’s five key safety questions. They were whether the Minister will consider:

  • Introducing immediate measures to properly regulate cable standards with a view to introducing a higher minimum class of performance (Cca) to ensure enforcement of Construction Products Regulation (CPR) in the UK 
  • Providing the resources to enable the Health and Safety Executive to identify the remaining four million metres of sub-standard cabling sold by Atlas Kablo
  • Take action on white goods to fully identify the risks and any action that could be taken to eradicate those risks
  • Carry out a review of regions most prone to electrical fires to identify any common characteristics
  • Commit to ensuring that there is no deregulation of cable standards in the UK following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Heather Wheeler MP (Con, South Derbyshire), Minister for Housing and Homelessness, responded on behalf of the Government with an explanation of current arrangements for fire safety through standards and building regulations. 

The Minister acknowledged that BS7671 is due to be revised in July 2018 but said that (to her understanding) reaction to fire classification is not due to change. Officials will review the revised IET BS 7671 once published to consider how the approved documents might be updated. 

She said she recognised that the industry is divided on how to set reaction to fire classifications but acknowledged that some parts of the industry would welcome a blanket (higher minimum) standard. The Minister pointed to The Hackitt Review (Independent Review of Building Regulation and Fire Safety), adding that as part of the consideration of the review’s recommendations the Government will review evidence of risk associated with electrical cabling to consider how it should respond. She went on to say that raising standards with a blanket increase would be difficult because “there is no agreement in the market”.