Is this seriously what Brian Aylett is suggesting we return to? (Below standard, letters, July/August 2008).

Whilst Brian's long list of work experience over the years is impressive, I think it might be he who is locked in a time warp.

I too was trained to the 14th Edition (236 pages) and my current working life revolves around the 17th Edition (300 pages). An additional 64 pages in 42 years hardly seems excessive considering how the range and complexity of installations has expanded during that period.

True, Ohms law is still Ohms law, and ring main circuits are still the norm (unfortunately), but back then standard protection against overloads and electric shock was a piece of tinned wire (hopefully of the right size) and earth leakage was something market gardeners worried about. Safety checks on completion were no more than “swing a megger on it, boy.”

We are in a technical industry and need a published standard against which everyone can evaluate the integrity of the systems they install. That standard is BS7671 (not Part P, which is a building standard and has little to do directly with electrical safety) and the important point is that it is one standard for all.

We all know of at least one sparkie who is an absolutely cracking tradesman, but would have the greatest difficulty if faced with any form of written exam or assessment, and I would agree entirely that in today's enlightened society there should be a way to legitimise and recognise their abilities by methods other than formal examination. Assessment by assessors (not trainers) who are practical, knowledgeable and experienced, when carried out correctly, should help people to achieve their objectives and not leave them feeling frustrated as Brian Aylett suggests.

Ultimately, there is a standard applicable to electrical installations which, if properly applied, should guarantee the safety of that installation, and that standard has to be confirmed, and recorded, by a full range of tests, carried out by a competent person.

The wee megger is dead - long live the multifunction tester.