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Awkward Britain

by Penny Walshe

Social awkwardness – and a reluctance to ask potentially embarrassing questions – is putting millions of people at risk of electrical disaster. Our campaign shows that asking your electrician to prove that they are registered is nothing to feel awkward about.

Research carried out by Electrical Safety First found that over 18 million of us are too embarrassed to ask if an electrician is registered to carry out electrical work in our home.

While the majority of us claim to use registered tradespeople, only one in five actually ask for proof. Having someone who isn’t a registered electrician undertake work in the home increases the risk of injury, property damage and fire.

The top three most awkward questions are:
1. Asking for a pay rise (62%)
2. Asking a queue jumper to get to the back of the line (49%)
3. Asking an electrician if they are registered and to prove this (37%)

There are some electrical jobs that by law should be carried out or checked by a registered electrician. For more information and to find a registered electrician in your area visit www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk in England and Wales and www.certificationregister.co.uk or www.niceic.com in Scotland.

You can also visit our Find an Electrician pages to find out more.

Awkward Questions

We went out to ask a few questions of our own, and to prove that there are much more awkward questions to ask than is an electrician registered!

Five Tips on Asking that Awkward Question

  1. Know the Law
    By law, homeowners and landlords must be able to prove that electrical work in their property meets certain standards. Be aware of these before inviting anyone to conduct work by visiting www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk (England and Wales) and www.certificationregister.co.uk or www.niceic.com (Scotland) to find your electrician or check their credentials.
  2. Be direct
    Have a phrase prepared in your mind before asking your electrician for proof of registration – something like “Before we get started, I just need to see your proof of registration documents.” This will help you be relaxed but clear and should avoid any confusion.
  3. Ask early
    It’s easier to ask before any work has been agreed upon, so make it part of your selection process.
  4. Be insistent
    Demand to see proof if necessary and be prepared to turn away any electrician who refuses to provide it.
  5. Put the emphasis on them
    All registered electricians will be easily able to provide proof so will not be offended at being asked to – watch out for those that do take offence!