PLASA Members’ Area

PLASA Electrotechnical standards update – August 2019

12 August 2019

There are various areas of work in progress currently, many of which will ultimately have an impact on members in various sectors. PLASA has representation on a range of standards and industry committees so it is important that members feed back to the association their thoughts and wishes – guidance and standards are only as good as the information put into them which relies on members giving their views to those representing them on the committees.

ESTA Technical Standards Program

Currently there are only two Standards in public review, BSR E1.4-3 Entertainment Technology — Manually Operated Hoist Rigging Systems (closing 8th October) and BSR E1.62 Minimum specifications for mass-produced portable platforms, ramps, stairs, and choral risers for live performance events (Closing 24th September). The former is concerned with the manufacture, installation and maintenance of manual hoists used in general entertainment applications (e.g. flying scenery, lighting etc). The latter is about smaller stage platforms like Steeldeck and covers legs, railings and the like.

The reviews are available here.

All the published ESTA ANSI standards can be downloaded here.

The popular Plugfests have finished for 2019, details of dates for 2020 have yet to be published.

IET Code of Practice for In-service inspection and testing (aka ‘PAT’ testing)

This Code is the most widely used and accepted guide to what has become known as ‘Portable Appliance Testing’. A lot of work has gone into updating this and the draft 5th Edition is a very different document from its predecessors. It is no longer in two sections (management and details of inspection and testing) and is much more streamlined detailing the legal requirements and the need for management of electrical systems, the inspection and testing requirements and more.

Some major changes which will be in the DPC are as follows:

  • It now definitely applies to rental equipment;
  • It applies to all equipment not covered by the building fixed wiring inspections. Things that fall through the gap between the building inspection and traditional ‘PAT’ include aircon equipment, hand-dryers in toilets, controls and motors for equipment (e.g. on roller shutter doors) and so on;
  • The table giving suggested inspection intervals has gone and been replaced by example risk assessments;
  • Testing has been simplified: The substitute leakage test has gone, Class II appliances may only need a visual inspection and there is a flowchart detailing the way to approach selecting the right tests. The continuity test (‘earth bond’) has changed to low current only, unless high current is needed. Also the permissible result has increased to 0.5 Ohms under certain circumstances;
  • Racks and bays with fixed equipment (e.g. amp racks in theatres or dimmers racks for example) now have their own Appendix giving recommendations on how to approach the maintenance of them without doing traditional ‘PAT’ on each item within. In essence, the rack can be treated as electrical plant rather than a collection of portable equipment;
  • Model forms have been replaced by suggested data for record keeping. No one actually used them in practice so they got deleted.

The changes will have a major impact on all. As the Code is also used as the core text for the City & Guilds training and qualification, it is likely that this will change too.

In essence it has been significantly restructured and streamlined, with a greater focus on risk assessment in relation to the types of tests and their frequency. The hope is that it will provide a more pragmatic approach rather than the common practice of annual testing and inspecting.

The 5th Edition is due out for public comment imminently (probably week commencing 19th August) and will be available for a month. PLASA members will be emailed when it comes out and everyone is welcome to submit comments.

ABTT Technical Standards for places of Entertainment

To tie in with the changes to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations, and also to generally update some of the electrical and lighting elements, ‘Tech Standards’ has undergone a significant update to B9 (Conservation of Energy), F1 (Electrical installation), F2 (Lighting and emergency lighting). Particualrly with the electrical side, a lot of the information has been streamlined for modern installations and working practices as well as encapsulating the requirements of the 18th Edition as necessary.

In the lighting section significant changes have been made to reflect the recent changes in light sources technology, largely led by the progress of LED (if you’d pardon the pun…!) It was felt that the content on light source selection should be left to the designer as much of the information is available elsewhere.

Work is underway with the editorial team and it’s hoped that the updates will be published in the coming months.

BS7671 – IET Wiring Regulations

There are quite a few changes being worked on at the moment and we can expect the first amendment around 2020. Most will not have a direct impact on the industry, but as is the way that might change between now and then! The most interesting aspects will be revisions to the generator requirements.

What is new is the publication of BS HD 60364-8-1:2019 Low-voltage electrical installations. Functional aspects. Energy efficiency. This was originally going to be included as a Part 8 pf BS 7671, but for various reasons was carved out as a standalone standard. Because it is part of the European Harmonization Document HD 60364 (stemming from the international standard for electrical installations IEC 60364) it is actually a part of our Wiring Regs and should be used in conjunction with it.

The content is really about designing an energy efficient electrical installation and a good precis is available from a blog written by Schneider – IEC 60364-8-1: Setting a New Standard for Efficient Buildings. It is available here.

IET practitioners guide to temporary systems

This is a new guide that is now published and available from the IET. Aside from reflecting the latest changes to BS 7671 it contains brand new guidance on the use of generators. In particular it includes requirements for parallel sets, unearthed generating sets, cross-bonding between electrical environments and more. It is contains the latest practice in this area which is causing other standards such as BS 7430 (Code of Practice for Earthing) to be reviewed. Members who are involved in hiring or using generators (or temporary power in general) will find the new content useful.

British Standards

PLASA is a distributer of Standards published by BSI and members ordering via PLASA can obtain a discount on the cost. It is hoped to get this discount increased, but unfortunately the BSI discount structure works on volume so we need members to buy more! The entire Standards catalogue is available from the online BSI shop. Although if you have any queries about a particular standard (e.g. whether it is the right one for your project) it’s always worth getting in touch with the office to see if any of the technical team have a copy or know more.