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#135984 - 02/27/03 06:17 PM Who's responsible?
Elzappr Offline
Member

Registered: 12/20/01
Posts: 273
Loc: Oregon
Who's legally responsible when the building burns down, or someone gets killed because of faulty wiring?

Texas Ranger mentioned that in his area the contractor is responsible for inspecting his/her own work. I'm not clear about the legal ramifications of that set-up. My thoughts are that it doesn't matter much whether a code of regulations is used, or a set of standards is used, so long as the contractor knows what needs to be done for safe practice (and I address this issue in my previous thread).
Without someone else looking over the work, and verifying that it is safe, then when the building burns down or someone gets killed, how is anyone to know who did the work? ..or know whom to blame? Anyone can come in after the contractor leaves, and modify or extend on the original wiring. Without some outside inspection process, how can anyone come back to the original contractor and take him/her to court over falulty wiring?

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#135985 - 03/03/03 03:15 PM Re: Who's responsible?
Bjarney Offline
Moderator

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
Seems to be that for the last 30 years in the US, it's a Sue Everyone that may even be Remotely Connected mentality.

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#135986 - 03/03/03 03:37 PM Re: Who's responsible?
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
It does raise some interesting questions. As I think you may have all gathered by now there are no official inspections in England. Some contractors will leave a sticker with their details on the main distribution panel if they've done a big rewire, but chances are you won't find it otherwise.

So many of our stock of homes have wiring which has been extended and modified so much over the years that in many cases it would be almost impossible to say who did what. If it's recent work, then the owner may well remember who is responsible, but you can almost guarantee when a house is sold that the new owner will have no idea who installed any of the wiring.

I'm no lawyer, but as I understand English law, somebody can be taken to court if it can be shown that his negligence resulted in a fire or electrocution. I know of at least one case a few years ago in which an "electrician" did some work in a kitchen, was called back twice when the owner reported that people were getting shocked on the stainless steel sink, and reported that there was nothing wrong. He ended up being charged with manslaughter when somebody was killed a short time later.

But such cases are the exception rather than the rule -- The guy had just been working there and checks afterward revealed that he had made a major error (he'd actually bonded the sink to a 240V hot conductor instead of ground -- How the h*** he managed that is anybody's guess.)

I think in most instances it just goes down as "electrical fault," and as nobody has any idea who installed the wiring nothing else can be done.

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#135987 - 03/03/03 09:06 PM Re: Who's responsible?
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Paul,
Is there any chance, that that last story you mentioned, could have been caused by the mains being transposed at the meters or the switchboard?.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#135988 - 03/04/03 08:09 AM Re: Who's responsible?
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Possible if it were a PME (MEN) installation, but I'm afraid I don't have the details. I read the story severqal years ago, and I just remember the conclusion being that the sink had been bonded to phase somehow.

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#135989 - 03/04/03 08:41 AM Re: Who's responsible?
C-H Offline

Member

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden is like Austria and the UK: The electrican is his own inspector. There was a recent case where an electrican confused phase and neutral/earth which meant that the sockets of the affected house were on 400V. His companion tested the connection and approved it... Luckily, nobody was hurt but there was extensive equipment damage. The interesting part is that it was the master electrican who was fined, not the electricians who had carried out the work.

(The electrician didn't know the old colour code with red earth and green phase and assumed them to be the other way round. Had he been reading ECN, he would have known )

(Edited to add the following: Here is an article about the incident, in Swedish)

[This message has been edited by C-H (edited 03-04-2003).]

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#135990 - 03/04/03 04:31 PM Re: Who's responsible?
David UK Offline
Member

Registered: 10/03/02
Posts: 134
Loc: Inverness, Scotland
Paul,
I think I recall the incident you are referring to. It happened around 1990/1 in SE England, the home owner's grandson was electrocuted as a result of the electrician's negligence. Electrician was jailed for manslaughter.

If my memory of the account given in the trade press is correct, the scenario was this:
Electrician wired central heating boiler & controls using 3 core flexes instead of 4 or 5 core flex. He used a green/yellow core as a switched phase (against regs.) at one end and connected the other end to the earth terminal of a piece equipment.
Electrician was called out (at least twice) to investigate people getting shocks from the sink, and failed to identify the fault, perhaps because it was only energized when the programmer was in "heating on" mode.
A failure of 2 safety devices, a faulty MCB in the consumer unit & lack of adequate earth bonding to water pipes, resulted in the sink becoming live at 240V.
I don't recall any mention of reverse polarity at the meter or mains board.

It was a clear case of incompetence & bad workmanship by the "electrician" and the jury recognised this.

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#135991 - 03/04/03 09:31 PM Re: Who's responsible?
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Like a lot of places, now, NZ, requires it's Electrical Workers (Electrician's, Line Mechanics, Electrical Service Technicians and
Electrical Inspectors), to sign thier lives away, by asking them to certify thier own work.
The crunch really only comes, if you do a really dodgy job, and the house burns down or if someone gets electrocuted, because of your work.
Just means, that you have to be really sure of your working practices.
If you do no wrong, you have nothing to fear!.
I do know that a few people over here, went to buy a lot of Test Equipment, when Self-Certification came in, people that had been in the Trade, longer than what I have been alive.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#135992 - 03/05/03 01:44 PM Re: Who's responsible?
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
David,
Thanks for your recollection of the full story. I didn't remember anything about beyond what I posted above.

I've seen similar situations, where somebody has just used a couple of lengths of standard 3-core flex instead of going out and buying 5-core or whatever is needed. I remember the house at Bacton from last summer had a horrendous mess of wiring for the central heating controls when I arrived.

Why do these timers always seem to be wired so poorly? Are 90% of them done by plumbers?

C-H,
 Quote:
electrician didn't know the old colour code with red earth and green phase and assumed them to be the other way round.

I've always maintained that education on electrical systems should include information not just on the way things are/should be done now, but also on the way things were done in the past.



[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 03-05-2003).]

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#135993 - 03/09/03 12:54 AM Re: Who's responsible?
Belgian Offline
Member

Registered: 10/10/02
Posts: 177
Loc: antwerp
Here we have an independant inspection body which inspect every major work before that you can get a connection from the PoCo. In doing that, it protects the main responsibility from the electrician.

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