This page will be updated throughout the month with the latest electrical news, updates for lecturers, students and apprentices, plus the best of social media.
Wednesday 29 April
Provide virtual quotes with Checkatrade’s new video calling system
Checkatrade has launched a number of new initiatives to support its trade members during the lockdown.
It has promoted a new video calling function on its website, which it says is a first within the online trade directory market, allowing tradespeople and potential clients to more easily ‘meet’, discuss jobs and obtain quotes from the comfort of their own homes. This means jobs can be safely scoped in advance or booked-in ready for when restrictions are lifted.
Checkatrade has also partnered with Claritas Tax, an accountancy firm specialising in tax advisory and compliance services, to offer trade members practical advice on accessing the financial support available at this time. The guidance, available on the Checkatrade blog, covers three main areas; help for the self-employed, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and VAT deferment.
Checkatrade is offering its members financial support and new affiliate packages for the duration of lockdown to allow them to maintain or build their online profile at a fraction of the usual cost.
Mike Fairman, CEO at Checkatrade, said: “Our members work across a broad spectrum of industries. For some it’s business as usual, for others their pipeline of work has collapsed overnight, leading to huge financial uncertainty and untold stress. We’re committed to doing all we can to support them. With our members ranging from sole traders through to limited companies, it’s important that everyone has access to the best tools and sound advice so that risks are minimised and opportunities maximised.”
Tuesday 28 April
Health and Safety at Work Day
There were 211 reported injuries caused by coming into contact with electricity or electrical discharge over a five-year period, a study has found.
Health and safety training provider CE Safety analysed data collected by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) between the financial years 2014/15 and 2018/19.
The most common injury reported was caused by a slips, trip or fall – with more than 20,000 reported over the period.
According to HSE statistics, the combined fields of public administration and defence, compulsory social security, education, human health and social work activities sees the highest number of non-fatal workplace injuries of all kinds, with 20,961 reported.
The industry with the second highest number of injuries is manufacturing. This field sees 12,151 injuries reported.
The construction industry saw 4,872 injuries reported between 14/15 and 18/19, 2,023 from those working in ‘water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities’ and 287 in ‘Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’.
1/ Today, we're announcing a new loan scheme. A simple, quick, easy solution for those in need of smaller loans.
Businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans up to a maximum of £50,000, or 25% of turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. pic.twitter.com/aBYcUkR9sR
— Rishi Sunak #StayHomeSaveLives (@RishiSunak) April 27, 2020
Thursday 23 April
#tradieladies take on the Don’t Rush challenge
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New LED products launched
Ovia has introduced a new range of 240V Universal Dali Dimmable Constant Current LED Drivers to its commercial lighting offer.
These new products are designed to enhance Ovia’s commercial LED Panel offering and means that Ovia now offers a digital dimming solution for its Inceptor Slate and Jura LED Panels.
The Dali dimmable LED drivers are available in 29-48W and 38-69W variants to maximise their potential across a range of applications.
With the new Dali drivers compatible with Inceptor Slate and Jura, contractors now have a digital dimming option available across premium and economical LED panels, providing them with products to suit a range of projects including hospitals, hotels, offices and shop floors.
Also new is Inceptor Iona – a range of 20W and 30W LED professional downlights, which provides contractors with perfect low maintenance replacements for CFL and PL lighting.
There are three versions available – standard non-dimmable; 1-10V dimmable and switch dimmable, and the dimmable versions also have an emergency option.
The Inceptor Iona includes a 3 pole Flow connector on non-dimmable versions and a 7 pole Flow connector on dimmable versions – allowing for quick and easy installation, as well as testing and maintenance.
A message from Electrical Industries Charity – there for you
We understand this is a complex and difficult time for everyone. We are living in a time of great uncertainty and increasing worry about our health and livelihoods.
We understand that the effect of COVID-19 on our industry and income will be great and we will all be affected.
In times of darkness and insecurity, we want to let our industry members know, that we will be here to help.
In times of crisis, communities strengthen and work together to support each other. We are an industry in community.
Thanks to support from the industry, every year the Electrical Industries Charity is able to offer hundreds of our industry colleagues both practical and emotional support during their time of need.
If you or someone you know is struggling to deal with a life-changing trauma and requires support, please contact the EIC support team: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 652 1618.
‘100 million plug-in EVs on road within ten years’
Research by IdTechEx says there will be 100 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road worldwide by 2030 – including cars, buses, trucks and vans.
The firm suggests that mobile charging systems could be used as an alternative to installing infrastructure.
It said: “Mobile charging provides an alternative solution to the traditional fixed charging infrastructure: instead of letting the EV drivers look for charging stations, the mobile charger comes to the vehicle to charge it.
“Mobile charging can help charging operators quickly build up the infrastructure or test for the best locations with the flexibility to relocate easily with no additional cost.
“A mobile EV charger normally consists of energy storage devices (usually batteries) in the form of portable chargers, trolleys, vans and even robots.
“Through the use of mobile energy storage for charging, the cost and complexity of the charging infrastructure can be significantly reduced, especially for restricted parking areas. It also provides a flexible charging solution for big events where there is no fixed charging infrastructure for temporary charging.”
BCIA launches online training
The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has launched online training for its full suite of training courses.
The BCM01-06 training courses cover a wide range of topics which incorporate the latest technical information from the building controls sector which helps engineers, installers, and building owners to further their knowledge and skills within the industry.
The first online courses will be running in May and further courses will be added to the calendar over the coming weeks.
For further information, course dates and to book your course, click here to go to the training website.
Wednesday 22 April
New app allows you to diagnose issues without being physically present
At a time when visiting customers is difficult for field service businesses, tools that allow remote support have never been more important.
Commusoft has released Diagnose by Commusoft, an AR-enabled video call app for iOS.
Founder Jason Morjaria said: “We wanted to provide a tool for clients that would help navigate these unique circumstances and provide a better customer experience despite the challenges.”
Diagnose by Commusoft enables installers to host remote support sessions with customers where they can speak to each other, see what the customer sees, and add visual markers over the video using augmented reality. This way, they can:
- diagnose issues without being physically present
- determine whether a visit is unavoidable
- direct customers through self-service
Commusoft’s remote support feature for iOS is available for free to all users for the next three months. Diagnose by Commusoft currently works for iOS to iOS video calls, with Android support coming soon.
Construction workers could be owed millions by HMRC
Research by tax refund experts, RIFT Refunds, has revealed that HMRC could be sitting on millions in unclaimed tax refunds owed to construction workers – who are either yet to claim or completely unaware they are even owed money.
RIFT’s data shows that PAYE construction workers could be failing to claim £300m a year. RIFT can backtrack these claims for the last four years, so this could see them owed a lot more.
There are an estimated 2.3m construction sector workers in the UK at present with 1,478,400 of these classed as PAYE employees.
Unlike self-employed workers who deduct travel expenses as part of their annual self-assessment tax returns, many PAYE construction operatives are required to claim these expenses back from HMRC each year.
The data shows that 31% of all PAYE construction workers who qualify are eligible to receive a refund from HMRC.
The average worker receives a refund of £934 per one year claim via RIFT and £3,735 as an average refund for a four-year claim, meaning that the total amount due to the 31% of PAYE construction workers eligible for a refund could be as high as £428,055,936.
However, with possibly just 30% being claimed each year (£128,416,781), RIFT estimates that HMRC is sitting on an eye-watering annual sum of £299,639,155 in unclaimed tax refunds owed to some 320,813 PAYE construction workers. With workers also able to backtrack claims for up to four years, HMRC could be sitting on even more in rightfully owed tax.
Friday 17 April
The UK's coronavirus lockdown will remain in place for at least another three weeks, with the government outlining the conditions for easing restrictions https://t.co/3wGQNOdi06
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) April 17, 2020
Ventilation industry has ‘crucial role to play’ in the coronavirus pandemic
An air cleaning expert believes that the ventilation industry will be vital in helping the country tackle airborne diseases like COVID-19.
Radic8’s Richard Greenwood told a BESA webinar that wearing masks and washing hands will help control the spread, but are not enough on their own and need to be supported by air purification and sterilisation devices.
“We know the virus is airborne and the distance it travels depends completely on the air flow,” said Mr Greenwood.
“We need to combine ventilation strategies with plug-and-play clean air technologies to get on top of the threat. Airflow direction is key as we need to pull the air away from patients and those treating them.”
Tuesday 14 April
Two-thirds of home improvement professionals and manufacturers abused
The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) has shared initial results from its COVID 19 Home Improvement Industry Impact Survey.
Findings from the first week of the survey showed two-thirds of home improvement professionals and supply chain manufacturers have received abuse from the public – either online or face-to-face – for staying open to complete essential works while adhering to social distancing.
Half of the survey entrants believe ‘opportunism’ by rogue traders who are neglecting social distancing and targeting vulnerable households is a significant risk.
Wednesday 8 April
Marshall-Tufflex has been asked to supply antimicrobial cable trunking to the new NHS Nightingale hospitals.
A silver ion solution is used in the manufacturing process of the trunking. This ensures 99.9% of harmful bacteria, including MRSA, will not survive on the surface.
Marshall-Tufflex’s manufacturing plant has been working around the clock to deliver the Nightingale orders. Sales Director Jon Chamberlain said: “We are proud to supply products that play an important role in fighting the spread of infection, with a proven method of neutralising some of the most common and dangerous bacteria found in hospitals.”
A series of free online wellbeing workshops are being held for anyone working in construction.
The 45-minute sessions start on Thursday 16 April and will cover mindfulness, meditation, resilience, controlling stress and building a work/life balance.
The workshops are a the result of a new collaboration between the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and software firm Construction Industry Solutions (COINS).
Monday 6 April
Vent-Axia supports NHS Nightingale
Vent-Axia has supplied 50 EuroSeries (ESP) fans to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital at London’s ExCeL. The Croydon branch of electrical distributor Rexel helped deliver the fans directly to site within three hours of the order.
Jenny Smith, Head of Marketing at Vent-Axia, said: “The construction industry and supply chain are doing everything they can to help with essential projects and maintenance. At Vent-Axia we are here to help.”
We are officially open! In less than two weeks, @ExCelLondon has been transformed into London's newest hospital, and we will be available as soon as patients across London and the south of England need us: https://t.co/jEyCb1rBNQ pic.twitter.com/TLSg3j4ZxH
— NHS Nightingale London (@NightingaleLDN) April 3, 2020
Advice for the self-employed
NICEIC and ELECSA will host a webinar tomorrow exploring what government support is available to small businesses and the self-employed.
It’s free to join in and takes place on Tuesday 7 April at 1pm. Visit niceic.com/covid-19-support-webinar
EV tax break
Businesses buying or leasing electric company cars in the next 12 months are to get a tax break.
Those choosing an electric car worth less than £40,000 before 5 April 2021 will pay no benefit-in-kind tax. And in 2021/22 there will be only a 1% charge.
Don’t forget mental health
Employers should prepare for a likely surge in mental health problems during the current lockdown, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).
41% of those surveyed by BESA said their mental health was worse than normal as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. With lockdown restrictions only in their early stages, BESA is concerned long periods of enforced isolation could lead to a serious mental health epidemic.
“We need to treat mental health with the same seriousness as physical health,” said Emily Pearson, managing director of the mental health in the workplace organisation Our Minds Work.
The Mental Health Foundation has put together some advice for taking care of your wellbeing during this time.
Friday 3 April
PPE for the NHS
B&Q and Screwfix have donated over £300,000 of PPE to the NHS, with more to follow.
Owner Kingfisher is working closely with the NHS to donate these supplies to the hospitals and key workers where they are most needed.
Masks, goggles and visors have gone to many large hospitals across London. And five trucks containing protective eyewear and masks worth over £200,000 are heading to the NHS’s Emergency logistics hub in the Midlands today.
B&Q stores have also been donating a range of other items, from paint to plants, where they are urgently needed by community organisations including hospices and care homes.
Minimum Wage increase
Increases to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage have gone ahead as planned. This is despite the current COVID-19 situation.
• The National Living Wage went up on Wednesday (1 April) from £8.21 to the new rate of £8.72
• The National Minimum Wage for 21 to 24-year-olds is now £8.20. For those aged 18-20 it’s now £6.45 and for 16 and 17-year-olds it’s £4.55.
• The Apprentice Rate has gone up from £3.90 to £4.15.
New electrical podcast
Experienced electrical engineer Gary Alder has launched a new podcast. Hit The Lights shares stories from across the industry – experts, educators, business owners and apprentices will all get their say.
Gary himself is the lead electrical engineer for the BAM, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty joint venture on Tideway, and has been managing director of two Tier 2 companies.
End point assessments paused
BESA has suspended the delivery of End Point Assessments (EPA) for apprentices during the Coronvirus pandemic.
EPAs include a practical assessment of the apprentice’s work, which is not realistic during the current lockdown and with social distancing rules in place. BESA had requested that an alternative to the practical element be considered, but this was deemed not possible by the awarding bodies, Open Awards and IfATE (Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Training).