The wiring regulations have been in existence since 1882. They were produced to help with safety in lighting circuits with specific attention to the risk presented by fire. The title of the 1st edition was in fact ‘Rules and Regulations for the prevention of Fire Risks Arising from Electric Lighting’
Since 1882 there have been 17 editions of the wiring regulations. All these editions have been released with the safety aspect of installations been the main consideration. The actual complete term used in the latest wiring regulations, the 17th edition, is “Safety of persons, livestock and character against dangers and damage which may arise in the reasonable use of electrical installations”
The editions of the wiring regulations are updated when the 5th supplement or amendment is due. These supplements are referred to as amendments. For example the 16 th edition went by 4 amendments before the 17th edition was issued. These amendments were issued in 1994, 1997, 2001 and 2004. At each amendment the colour of the cover of the wiring regulations is changed. For example the covers on the above amendments started as red in 1992, green in 1994, yellow in 1997 blue in 2001 and brown in 2004. The 17th edition’s cover is red.
Reasons for the amendments are varied but in the case of the most recent editions and amendments it was the need to adopt a shared standard for the European Union that have pushed the changes. BS7671 will be updated as the European document is either amended or revised. The European document is referred to as CENELEC Document.
The legal position of the wiring regulations is referred to as non-statutory. This method that BS7671 taken in isolation is not truly enforceable by law. BS7671 is however reference in the Electricity at work regulations 1989 and also Part P of the building regulations. These are legally enforceable regulations. The reference to BS7671 is to suggest that following the practices laid out in BS7671 the Wiring Regulations, would indicate that good practice has been followed.
In the event of any legal challenge in regards to the standard of work carried out within any Electrical installation, references to the Wiring Regulations could and would be used. BS7671 is consequently a reference to good practices. It would however be very foolish to attempt any work on an Electrical installation with out a good understanding of the current wiring regulations which at this time is BS7671:2008 IEE wiring regulations 17th edition