This year R M Labels can be found on stand PR32 at the Pembrokeshire County Show in Haverfordwest – why not come along and find out what is hidden under the rug!
Is water safety being overlooked?
In the PHAM News article below, Kevin Wellman of CIPHE talks about how seriously water safety is taken, looking at the level of training required compared with the mandatory level of training necessary for gas installers.
Water safety can often be overlooked or taken for granted, but potential risks should not be underestimated. Kevin Wellman, CEO of the CIPHE, puts the case for a more comprehensive approach to protecting the public and safeguarding the reputation of professionals.
It may be a shock to some that hot water scalding and Legionnaires’ disease is making a significant contribution to the number of fatalities and deaths in this country, on par with, and in some cases exceeding, the number of carbon monoxide related incidents in the UK. One reason for this is likely due to the fact that gas related tragedies in the home and commercial environments has long been recognised and publicised as a health risk. In addition industry has embraced legislation to affect changes that have saved many lives. Water safety on the other hand can be overlooked by both installers and homeowners who often do not realise the potential dangers of not properly managing water temperatures and bacteria.
At the CIPHE, we make a point of discussing water safety issues with our members, manufacturers, consumer organisations and trade bodies. After all, it is the job of the plumbing and heating industry, as a whole, to stamp out unscrupulous work. Only through education and bringing issues like water safety to the attention of the entire supply chain can we make progress and prevent the unnecessary and avoidable deaths of those using hot water systems which aren’t safe or suitable for them – this includes vulnerable users as well as the public at large. What we must remember is that nobody is exempt from the dangers of scalding and Legionaries’ disease, so the only real option is to ensure that the right steps are taken to actively stamp out the risk.
What can be done?
The reality is that there is lots that can be done to ensure water safety is front of mind – namely this can be achieved through education and ensuring that installers have access to relevant safety information and resources. This is vital to helping plumbing and heating professionals keep up to date with the latest standards and preventative measures covering water safety.
A part of this is addressing skills early on. Plumbing apprenticeships 100 years ago used to be seven years long; 50 years ago it was five years long; now there are schools of thought that specify just two years as being sufficient. This decrease in training, along with advancements in product technology, gives rise to the concern that not all of the trade can be fully competent.
Further, when you compare the level of mandatory training gas installers must undertake, for example the 5-6 days of training required each year under the Nationally Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) in order to renew their licence every five years, unfortunately water safety just doesn’t have the same level of training required. As an industry, water regulations were produced back in 1999 with training happening on a voluntary basis. Therefore, the reality for water safety and training under current schemes means installers are under no obligation to update their skills. This is where the CIPHE and like-minded organisations come in to put pressure on current ways of working and encourage members to make a change.
The CIPHE’s CPD Charter is designed to ensure that skills, based on agreed competency requirements, are supported and met by plumbing and heating professionals who undertake training. The idea is that the public will benefit directly by professionals updating their skills on topics such as water safety on a regular basis. Our view is that professionals may have undertaken training at the very beginning of their career and if work isn’t done to support the ongoing development of skills, the industry will move on without them.
It is evident that a greater skilled workforce for installation and maintenance of hot water systems is needed, which is why I urge trade professionals to become involved with the CIPHE and take advantage of all the resources we have to offer.
For more information about water safety, to request the CIPHE’s Safe Water Guide, and for membership enquiries, please email: email@example.com or call 01708 472791.
At R M Labels we have a comprehensive range of products for marking up water pipework and systems; if you need help selecting the right product for the job, give us a call on 01348 840 675 and we will be happy to assist.
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HVP have published an article about Alisdair Cumming’s move from the automotive industry to become research development manager at Baxi. The article explains how Alisdair believes drawing comparisons between boilers and cars can help installers encourage homeowners to commit to a regular maintenance programme.
It’s a familiar story, where installers warn of the need for regular servicing and maintenance, but the message doesn’t always translate into a language homeowners understand. While many people may not think twice about spending hundreds of pounds to keep their cars running smoothly, this often isn’t a process they equate with keeping the home boiler going.
Explaining how a complex piece of machinery such as a boiler works can be tricky, and cash-strapped homeowners may be reluctant to spend money on their heating system until there is a problem. While boiler manufacturers such as Baxi publish easy-to-understand leaflets to assist installers with this, explaining the similarities between a boiler and a car can be a useful way of getting the point across.
In this vein, a useful comparison is boiler operating hours versus miles driven. Running a boiler for over a year without a service is much like driving a care for 100,000 miles without a check-up- a risk few drivers would take. No motorist would expect their vehicle to achieve the same miles per gallon if it had not been serviced, whereas many homeowners are shocked if a neglected boiler starts to burn more fuel to heat their home.
Indeed, some homeowners may be unaware that foregoing regular boiler servicing can also present a greater risk to their family’s health and safety. This is partly due to a lack of public knowledge around the threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Around 50 people die each year from CO poisoning and another 4,000 are treated in hospital. Given that the most common sources of excessive CO in the home are faulty gas appliances, these figures further demonstrate the necessity of annual servicing.
Another comparison that can be made is the effect missing a service can have on a warranty. Much like a car warranty or vehicle insurance, necessary maintenance must be conducted to retain protection, and an annual service is generally a condition of a boiler warranty.
In the same way homeowners would only trust a qualified mechanic to work on their car, they should also know the importance of only using a Gas Safe Registered engineer for any gas work – including servicing. The key difference here is government legislation. It’s critical any gas work is completed to the highest standard, but the law dictates it can only be completed by a Gas Safe registered professional, whereas there are no specific laws or ongoing training requirements relating to car mechanics.
Baxi encourages all reputable heating engineers to make a habit of showing their ID card before beginning work, to help educate homeowners on the importance of the scheme.
Not only does this ensure the safety of the homeowner, it also means their annual service is valid for warranty purposes. For a Baxi boiler to be eligible for a warranty it must be registered within 30 days of installation, and the Benchmark checklist must be completed. Once a new boiler is registered on our installer loyalty scheme, Baxi Works, we send out a yearly reminder on behalf of the installer, so the customer knows it’s time to arrange a service.
Ongoing homeowner education is just one of the ways the industry can work to improve gas safety. By making comparisons to familiar scenarios, such as car servicing, installers can help ensure the crucial message gets through loud and clear.
At R M Labels, we regularly bring to the attention of our readers any articles that encourage installers to promote their Gas Safe credentials to their customers. As a licensed supplier of Gas Safe products that are only available to Gas Safe registered installers*, we would suggest that all Gas Safe registered installers or heating engineers should include the Gas Safe logo and their registration number on information passed on to customers. These details can be added to annual service labels that can be applied to new boilers as they are installed. We all know how quickly time passes and it is easy for customers to forget when an annual service is due. Having a service label on the appliance will be a constant reminder of when the next service is due so that the date doesn’t get missed, and so causing the warranty to be invalidated. Furthermore, displaying your information on the appliance will save your customers time trying to locate your details and will mean they are more likely to contact you first each time they need any working doing, rather than trying to find someone else.
*Every time Gas Safe licensed products are sold by R M Labels, the purchaser’s details are checked on the Gas Safe Register to ensure they are a registered installer and their details match those given on the Gas Safe Register.
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We are pleased to announce that due to our increased workload, over the last few months we have been busy recruiting and training new staff so that we can continue to provide the best possible service and the quickest possible turnaround on all orders.
A little bit about our history
Most of you will already know Ray and Linda Thomas, the directors of R M Labels Limited. Ray started R M Labels Limited nearly 30 years ago now.
As a plumber by trade Ray has an in depth knowledge of the industry and with his expertise always to hand, we can help you find the best possible solution when it comes to the identification of pipework. As the business grew, Ray’s wife Linda became involved and they have now been running the business together for over 20 years.
Tash Greenhalgh joined us two years ago and everyone who calls up to
place an order will probably already know Tash; we get many great comments from our customers about how she is always so helpful and cheerful when they call in. With the wealth of knowledge Tash has learnt since she has been with us, she can usually answer all your queries, provide you with quotations or process your orders straightaway.
Our new recruits
To help Tash with her workload, Sophie Jamieson has now joined us. If
you have recently placed an order with us, you will probably have received one of Sophie’s short videos letting you know your goods are on the way, or you may already have spoken to her on the telephone. Sophie is still learning the ropes, so please bear with her if she has to refer to us regarding your enquiries.
Producing your order…
In production we have Harry Oliver and Adam Davies.
Where it’s all done
We now have a large new unit in Haverfordwest where all the production takes place; our registered office still remains in Letterston.
Give us a call
With Tash and now Sophie as well at the end of the line ready to take your calls, together they can answer most questions.
For help with all things to do with Pipe Banding and Pipe Identification Tapes to the British Standard BS 1710:2014 give us a call and ask to speak to Linda, who will be happy to discuss your requirements, help you understand the changes that came into place in 2014 regarding the labelling of water pipework and help you to choose the right product for the job.
If you require a bespoke product please give us a call, as having worked in the plumbing, heating and pipework industry for many years, Ray is always happy to discuss any new requirements you may have.
At R M Labels Limited we strive to offer high quality products, together with the best possible service, giving our customers a quick, reliable turnaround and so allowing them to get on with the job in hand.
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Here’s a little idea for Plumbing and Heating Engineers that like to go the extra mile.
Try this quick and easy way to pick up extra work without having to be the hard salesman. And your customers will love you for it!!
Once you have marked up your customer’s isolation valves and stopcocks, your details will always be at hand for whenever they need to get in touch. Putting the valve tags on all the isolation valves and stopcocks means that in an emergency your customers will be able to quickly contact you and will be eternally grateful if you have talked them through what they need to do to avoid a disaster. But more importantly for you, you will be the first person they call when they are thinking of having any new work done.
We asked some members of the public if they thought this service would be useful and if it was something they would be prepared to pay for.
Here is what they had to say:
If you haven’t used these Valve Tags before, why not try the Valve Tag Special Offer for new customers and have your details printed on the tags for free!
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Back in December 2016 we posted about the Gas Safety Superheroes and following on from this, we saw the article below in last month’s HVP about Peter Booth (@pbplumber on Twitter) who came up with the hashtag #regardthecard for the Gas Safety Superheroes campaign.
Here is HVP’s article on Peter:
A Good Influence
Peter Booth is a third-generation plumber, but the first in his family to explore a new side of plumbing through social media. Originally just tempted to pop a few pictures of his work online for other tradespeople to check out, Mr Booth was pulled in by the sense of community and the opportunity to get a look at the work of other plumbers, to see what they do differently and what equipment they use.
Now he had over 5,000 followers and his reach extends well beyond just a few photos of his installations.
Mr Booth is now involved in promoting gas safety to the wider industry, standing up for installers across the country and encouraging young people to get into the trades.
He said: “I remember when I hit 500 followers and I thought that was massive, and it’s just grown and grown. I always follow back if the person that follows me is in the trade, because I love seeing what other people are doing and I love interacting with other people. It’s like a big bunch of mates.”
Recently, he was impressed by the quality of work he saw from Den Hollingworth of Hollingworth Heating (@DenHollingworth on Twitter), and bought a bag of wire wool after seeing how good Mr Hollingworth’s pipework looked, in order to polish his own in the same way.
Mr Booth says social media is great for seeing the standard of other people’s work and improving your own as a result.
He said: “I normally only get to see my own work or, if I’m going to repair something, a job that may not have been done to a great standard.”
One of his main focuses recently has been working for the good of installers across the country, whether this is banding together to make opinions known about new schemes or opportunities, or to promote important work like his involvement in Gas Safety Superheroes, a not for profit campaign designed to improve awareness, training, energy efficiency and workmanship within the gas industry.
“Gas Safe Register do Gas Safety Week but, for us, it’s Gas Safety Year. It’s Gas Safety Day every day,” said Mr Booth.
“The part I came up with (for Gas Safety Superheroes) was the hashtag #regardthecard because, since I became Gas Safe registered 15 years ago, I can count on one hand the amount of times people have asked to see my card on jobs.”
“The biggest problem with gas is people doing it that aren’t qualified. If everyone is aware that they should ask for the card before they do any work then that’s got to be bad for the cowboys.”
Though Mr Booth is humble about his social media presence, he puts considerable effort into using it to represent other plumbers and draw attention to products and issues that he believes are important.
One such example was his use of Twitter to encourage manufacturers to implement a callback system for technical calls. After an overwhelming poll with 93% in favour, manufacturers including Viessmann and Baxi agreed to implement callbacks with immediate effect.
Mr Booth said: “If you’re doing a good job and you’re proud of your work, then you should want to put it on a platform – be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I think that’s how people are going to start getting more work, by how they advertise on social media.”
“A lot of it used to be word of mouth, but these days most people don’t talk to their neighbours, they just find everything online.”
“If you’ve got an online presence, that’s going to help you get your name around and get noticed.”
We wholly support Mr Booth’s commitment to improving the industry for
reputable installers. At R M Labels we offer a range of products licensed by the Gas Safe Register that are only available to Gas Safe Registered engineers. Before supplying any products that contain the Gas Safe logo we always check the purchaser’s details match those registered with Gas Safe.
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BESA calls for air quality measures
It is reported that proposals for a new Clean Air Act should include measures supporting the role of buildings as a ‘safe haven’ from pollution, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).
“People spend more than 80% of their time indoors and there is still a lot more we can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ)” says Chief Executive Paul McLaughlin. “A series of low cost maintenance measures to ensure ventilation systems work properly and incoming air is filtered and cleaned would make a major difference to the health and wellbeing of building occupants.”
BESA commissioned a YouGov survey last year that found almost 70% of office workers believed poor air quality in their place of work was having a negative impact on their day-to-day productivity and wellbeing. A third were also concerned that poor IAQ was damaging their health.
“Considerable investment has already been made in improving the airtightness of buildings to reduce energy consumption, and that same process can be used to manage air quality,” argues Paul McLaughlin
For more information: BESA IAQ Action Group
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Dont’t Ignore The Electrics
This article was spotted in the ‘Your Views’ section of HVP:
“The Gas Safe Register Technical Bulletin (TB) 118 issued in July last year, quite rightly intimated that all engineers working on electrical appliances should be working under the Health & Safety at Work Regulations and more specifically the Electricity at Work Regulations.
This TB would appear to go some way in helping our industry take a safer approach to working on electrical appliances, or at least it would if it had reached more than a handful of engineers. Speaking to the gas engineers coming through our gas centre at Sterling Assessment Services on a daily basis, I can honestly say that all who were asked had no knowledge of this
TB – and there lies the problem. I am sure that employers and engineers alike will have skipped over this TB due to its title and content: ‘Safe electrical isolation of gas appliances’.
In our experience, as an industry we have predominantly ignored: temporary continuity bonding, safe isolation of electrical appliances and basic fault finding practices. I will at this point apologise to those gas engineers/companies out there who do take this matter seriously, but in our experience you are in the minority. This approach can obviously lead to serious injury, or even death, along with possible prosecution and civil action against employers and employees who ignore legislation and manufacturers’ instructions.
A gas boiler is a 240V-AC electrical appliance with a large metallic surface area, along with numerous internal AC and DC electrical components, some of which can be as high as 325V-DC. With this in mind, surely it is inconceivable that engineers would proceed to put their hands in and around these appliances on a daily basis without first using basic electrical safety checks and the safe isolation procedures required by legislation and manufacturers’ instructions.
To this end, NICEIC has recently released a fully accreditied training and assessment program for gas engineers which guides them through basic electrical science, such as: safe isolation, how boilers/systems work and fault finding and testing. This will enable gas engineers and employers of gas engineers to keep up to date with the current electricity at work regulations while up-skilling themselves and their workforce on the fault finding techniques. This course will also allow gas engineers to use the latest up-to-date electrical testing equipment.” Julian Hearn, Sterling Assessment Services
Here is the Gas Safe Register Technical Bulletin 118
NICEIC: Electrical Regulations Explained
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Be Safe – Always use Gas Safe Registered Engineers!
HVP reported this month that an unregistered installer has been fined and given a suspended prison sentence after illegally carrying out work on a number of boilers. Faults were found on one such boiler following work carried out by Philip Locke in 2013, despite not being Gas Safe registered, High Wycombe Crown Court heard on the 9th February.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) wrote to Mr Locke informing him of
his responsibility to be registered in order to work on boilers, but he failed to comply.
Mr Locke of Chalfont St Giles, High Wycombe, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 and was sentenced to four months imprisonment suspended for one year, fined £6,500 and ordered to pay costs of £6,280.
HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “Philip Locke showed disregard for the law when he continued to work on gas appliances without certification. This case highlights that plumbers must be competent and Gas Safe registered to work on gas appliances.”
In a separate case, a Preston landlord received a suspended prison sentence after failing to ensure gas safety checks were carried out on the gas appliances in one of her properties.
After failing to comply with an HSE Improvement Notice, Pritpall Kaur Singh pleaded guilty to breaching section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety
at Work etc Act, 1974, and to one breach of Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (36 (3)).
She was sentenced to a 26 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: “If you rent property out, you must comply with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, including the need to have a gas safety certificate. Gas appliances should be regularly checked, as faulty appliances can kill.”
- Stay safe – always use a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Check – ask to see the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card*
- Tenants – check your landlord has a Gas Safety Certificate for the property
*How to understand the Gas Safe ID Card
Find a Gas Safe Registered Engineer: Gas Safe Register
Gas Safe Registered Engineers/Installers
- Are your Gas Safe details up-to-date? Licensed Gas Safe products can only be sold to Gas Safe registered engineers whose details line up with those held on the Gas Safe register – if you have moved premises or had a change of name – make sure you notify Gas Safe.
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All pipework containing water should be clearly marked to show where the water comes from and whether it is potable or non-potable, to avoid
contamination of drinking water. This is clearly described in the BS 1710:2014 specification for Identification of Pipelines and Services. Below is an extract from the BSI (British Standard Institution) website giving an overview of the revisions that came into effect in 2014:
BS 1710 specifies the colours and other information that should be used to identify pipes, ducts and electrical conduits.
As the last version of the standard was published in 1984, it is long out of date. There was a particular need to update the coding system for the water supply industry, where alternative water reuse systems are becoming more popular – and where alterations can lead to contaminated drinking water if the content of different pipes is not explicit.
BSI has now fully revised the standard. Among other things, the new version:
- Refines the labelling system to aid identification
- Simplifies identification in building and water systems
- Introduces a new three-size methodology to accommodate the full range of fluid services
- Removes ship systems, which are now covered in BS ISO 14726
BS 1710:2014 will support the legal requirement for those who install and use plumbing systems to prevent cross contamination.
More broadly the new standard will be of interest to building designers, operators, users and service installers, and a wide variety of associated industries and activities including waste, water, liquid fuels, gases, and refrigeration.
There are many products available for marking up pipework and the associated valves for both commercial and domestic properties, such as pipe identification tape, pipe banding, pipe markers and valve tags.
British Standards Institution: www.bsigroup.com
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