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In practice there is great uncertainty among executives and even responsible electrical specialists as to the circumstances under which employees - with or without completed electrical training - should be classified as electrical specialists.

(Updated on March 2nd, 2020)

The term “qualified electrician” and its meaning

On the subject Obtaining and maintaining specialist knowledge in the field of electrical engineering There are various aspects that should be considered when considering a Company organization that is as legally secure as possible aspires to. The discussion in the companies is often only superficial, electrical technical terms are used vaguely and various aspects are often lumped together.

Frequent misjudgments

The biggest misconceptions about qualified electricians are:

  • "The employee once trained to be a high-voltage electrician, he must be able to do it!"
  • "Every employee with electrical training is basically an electrician!"
  • "An employee without electrical training in the classic sense can never be an electrician!"
  • "Employees with apprenticeships such as mechatronics technicians, telecommunications technicians or measurement and control technicians cannot achieve the status of qualified electricians!"
  • "It is unnecessary to order qualified electricians in writing, they have learned their trade and are therefore qualified electricians!"
  • "Our employees in the electrical sector are qualified so that every employee can carry out all electrical engineering activities that occur and recognize possible dangers!"

The content of the "Hit list of errors" will lead to spontaneous rejection (desirable ...) or spontaneous approval (not desirable ...) with one or the other reader. The latter in particular should definitely read on.

Origin and sources of the term qualified electrician

Origin of the term qualified electrician

The term “qualified electrician” comes from different and mutually independent sources. First of all, the set of regulations of the Association of Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies (VDE) e.V. should be mentioned, which defines the term several times in the same way in different provisions. Here, the necessity was seen that (dangerous) activities in electrical engineering, which occur during the construction, operation, maintenance etc. of electrical systems and equipment, should be reserved for special skilled workers. The statutory accident insurance in the form of employers' liability insurance associations and accident insurance funds has also seen this necessity and has therefore included it in its set of regulations [1] "DGUV regulation 3 or. 4 - formerly: BGV A3 / GUV ‑ V A3 - Electrical systems and equipment "an identical requirement and definition added. [2]

Sources of the electrician definition

The most important regulations that have been calling the "electrician definition" for many years are listed below: [3]

Both accident insurers and private standards providers in the field of electrical engineering saw it as necessary and important, not least in the context of an increasingly liberalized European market, to point out the importance of electrical engineering specialist training in their respective central plants.

Definition of the term qualified electrician

Although the definition of a qualified electrician should actually be assumed to be known, it is briefly presented again in the following: According to § 2 paragraph 3 of the accident prevention regulation DGUV regulation 3 or 4 - since 1979 - a qualified electrician is someone who is on the basis of his or her own

  • professional training,
  • Knowledge and experience as
  • Knowledge of the relevant regulations[4]

can assess the work assigned to him and recognize possible dangers. This "triad" that has been known for decades theoretical and practical qualifications plus knowledge of the set of rules for the assigned work area represents the "yardstick" for the qualification of the electrician.

 

The definition assumes that the qualification is usually based on the successful completion of relevant training or a degree in electrical engineering. However, it is also made clear in the instructions for use and the instructions on the set of regulations that - in the sense of a Opening clause - It is possible to use several years of activity in the relevant field of work to assess the technical training. [5] To the To be able to use the opening clause sensibly, the focus must be on a "multi-year activity" in the "relevant field". In addition, the ability of an employee introduced to the field of activity in theory and practice should be checked and documented. This makes it clearthat a locksmith who has looked over the shoulder of an electrician for two weeks or attended an electrical engineering crash course is by no means a qualified electrician.

 

There are a variety of professions that fall into the field of electrical engineering. When in individual cases the necessary knowledge for the tasks that are assigned to a qualified electrician in the respective company can not be answered globally. Here the entrepreneur has to make an individual decision after appropriate reviews as part of his selection responsibility.

Applied meaning of the term qualified electrician

The term “qualified electrician” must first and foremost be distinguished from a technical or qualification title that can be acquired through vocational or higher education. Such qualifications are usually acquired after completing an apprenticeship and having demonstrated skills and abilities in an examination procedure and documented in a certificate of completion. This final certificate in the form of a journeyman's, skilled worker or master craftsman's certificate then initially only confirms that you have achieved a professional qualification; the same applies to university degrees, technicians, engineers, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. They document the successful completion of a technical or university education.

No qualification

However, a qualified electrician is not such a qualification, but rather a "qualification status", which must be acquired after the actual apprenticeship qualification and, under certain conditions, can be lost again. In this respect, you can use the designation with a Personnel certification compare that expires after a certain period of time or has to be purchased again.

 

The school and vocational training qualifications mentioned above are, so to speak, only the “entry ticket” to the job. The qualification as an electrician then takes place in the course of a more or less long training period on site in the company. A practical passport, in which the activities carried out are entered in writing, is ideal for documenting the induction process. [6] Here, the future electrician will work under the technical direction of higher-level (responsible) electricians.

Individual assessment required

According to accident prevention regulation DGUV regulation 3 or 4 § 3, the entrepreneur must ensure that his electrical devices, machines and systems are maintained by or under the supervision of qualified electricians. Therefore, qualified electricians are to be employed for the activities in the electrotechnical parts of the company. Since there is no “professional training to become an electrician” and this professional status is made up of several sub-aspects in accordance with the DIN VDE 1000-10: 2009 chap. 3.1 [7], the qualification is to be assessed by the responsible electrician or the next higher technical supervisor. She should be introduced to all tasks that will arise in her work area in the future. The requirement to be able to demonstrate “knowledge and experience” is thus fulfilled.

Written order

It is advisable to prepare a short document [8] about the result of the professional and personal assessment. The order [9] for a qualified electrician should be documented in an order document. There are no legal or normative specifications regarding the content of either document. For reasons of preservation of evidence, however, there is no better means than the written assignment of tasks in the form of an order. On the one hand, the employer or the entrepreneur documents his selection responsibility with regard to the requirement criteria. On the other hand, by handing over the order, the employee is given to understand that he is playing an important role in ensuring electrical safety. It is of no use if the employer indulges in the “secret room” of the illusion that his employees are qualified electricians without the latter even knowing this - or vice versa.

Professional and personal suitability is important

The aim of the specifications and standards is one Risk minimization due to the professional qualifications of the people involved. As a rule, the personal suitability of the person to be appointed is not expressly mentioned as an important criterion in the standard, but in most cases it should be given equal weighting. The ever-increasing penetration of electrical engineering into all areas makes it necessary to employ a particularly qualified electrician.

Risk minimization through qualification

The knowledge acquired in training alone is not sufficient for many activities. Special knowledge is required here in order to be able to assess and cope with the dangers and how to avoid them using the latest technology. This can only be achieved through suitable further training measures in theory and practice. An example would be special training for authorization to switch high voltages, working under voltage or testing electrical systems and work equipment. With the increasing professional requirements and / or the increasing probability and severity of hazards, the demands on the personal suitability of the employee also increase.

 

Complementary It must be mentioned that, due to the breadth and depth of today's electrical engineering tasks, it is impossible to be a fully trained electrician. Every qualified electrician can only be considered a qualified person for their current area of ​​work if they meet the qualification requirements.

Organizational and selection obligations of the employer

The owner of a company is then directly liable if he has neglected in a reproachable manner to organize business processes in such a way that no one is harmed within the scope of the possibilities. There is also an organizational deficiency if, for example, no one is intended for a specific task or if the number of experts is too small, so that in individual cases even inexperienced people have to participate. The basis for the claim can be seen in Section 823 of the German Civil Code (BGB). In the case of companies based on the division of labor (in particular corporations), in addition to the "constitutional representatives" (board of directors, managing directors), employees of the middle management levels who have power of attorney are also recorded in Section 31 of the German Civil Code (BGB). [10]

This is where the entrepreneur or employer or a responsible electrician appointed by them are responsible for making the selection; Here the German Civil Code (BGB), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (ArbSchG) and DGUV regulation 1 speak a clear language.

Selection of suitable employees required

The Occupational Safety and Health Act expressly obliges the company to only entrust suitable employees with a task. So it says in § 7 "Transfer of Tasks" in the ArbSchG:

  • "When assigning tasks to employees, the employer must take into account, depending on the type of activity, whether the employees are capable of complying with the regulations and measures to be observed for safety and health protection when performing the tasks."

 

Section 9 ArbSchG then continues with regard to "special dangers":

  • (1) The employer has measures to ensure that only employees who have received appropriate instructions have access to particularly dangerous work areas.
  • (2) The employer has precautions to ensure that all employees who are or could be exposed to a significant immediate danger are informed as early as possible about this danger and the protective measures taken or to be taken.In the event of a significant immediate danger to their own safety or the safety of other people, employees must be able to take appropriate measures to avert danger and limit damage themselves if the responsible superior cannot be reached; The knowledge of the employees and the available technical means must be taken into account. The employees must not suffer any disadvantages from their actions, unless they have intentionally or grossly negligently taken unsuitable measures. "

 

Unfortunately, it is very often found in practice that this selection responsibility is taken lightly. That goes well until there is an accident. Ultimately, you organize for yourself, for the subordinate employee and, last but not least, for the jurisdiction.

 

Organization of the electrical area

A qualified electrician cannot work in a "vacuum", that is, without any guidance. Who gives her orders and instructions? Who informs about innovations and dangers? If a company employs qualified electricians, this company undoubtedly has an electrotechnical operating part - no matter how small it is (e.g. electrician assigned to the maintenance workshop). If it is answered in the affirmative that electrotechnical work is required and that one must therefore employ 3 or 4 qualified electricians according to DGUV regulation, then such an electrotechnical operating part is present. If work is now shared - that is, through the interaction of several employees - you need an organization with structures and rules. The electrician needs a boss who can tell you where to go.

 

Of course, the qualified electrician can also take on this function in personal union with appropriate training [11]. However, one will not want to employ and pay the engineer for less complex electrical engineering work. It must therefore be assessed which work is required and which qualifications are required. In order to instruct the qualified electricians and to be responsible for the management, a person is required who can do this professionally. The entrepreneur himself is the so-called “born” responsible person. By virtue of his position, he is responsible for the organizational and regulatory competence. If the entrepreneur himself is technically capable, he simply leads the electrotechnical part of the operation. He does not even have to be aware that he owns such a part of the business. If the entrepreneur lacks the professional qualification for the electrical sector, he is still responsible for it. Here, however, he must recognize the technical deficits and is obliged to act (keyword: organizational fault).

 

A person with the necessary technical qualifications must take over the responsible management of electrical engineering in his place: the responsible electrician. This is selected and ordered in writing. As a so-called “designated” person in charge, she performs the tasks of the entrepreneur for the electrotechnical part of the company. [12] In particular, the responsible electrician is responsible for the organization, selection and control in the electrotechnical part of the operation. Since there is not infrequently a conflict between economic efficiency and safety requirements, the responsible electrician in the field of electrical engineering is released from instructions, that is A disciplinary superior who is a layperson in electrical engineering cannot and may not give any (responsible) electrical specialist any instructions in the field of electrical engineering.

 

The form in which the electrical department is organized is irrelevant for the execution of its tasks: “Depending on the requirements and size of the company, all variants can be found, from very simple structures to very complex organizational forms. It is of particular importance for all variants that the responsibilities are not only transferred "on paper", but are also "lived" and implemented in daily practice and that the technically responsible persons are equipped with the skills necessary to complete the task. "

When is an employee considered a qualified electrician?

The preceding explanations have made it clear that you do not automatically qualify as an electrician by completing an apprenticeship or a course of study. As a rule, you first have to gain practical experience and knowledge of the regulations in the assigned area of ​​responsibility in order to then qualify as a qualified electrician. Incidentally, the same applies to new employees in a company: They can only be regarded as qualified electricians after they have been successfully trained in the new area of ​​responsibility.

 

In practice, the duration of the induction phase depends largely on the complexity of the area of ​​responsibility as well as on the skills and motivation of the employee to be trained, along with other boundary conditions. In practice, companies often mention periods of time that vary between six and 24 months. In individual cases, very well-trained and motivated employees (in the sense of a graduated release) can be deployed earlier as electrical specialists for certain activities for which the practical training has already been completed. In this context, it is also good operational practice to appoint new employees in the electrotechnical part of the company in writing to be qualified electricians for their specific area of ​​work after completing the documented induction phase.

 

In summary, it should be noted that the employee is considered a qualified electrician from the moment that the employer / entrepreneur certifies it based on the three criteria ("triad"). No one relieves the employer of the responsibility for the appointment and the correct time for the appointment - or, if the delegation is appropriate, the technical supervisor; there is also no ready-made “recipe”. Checklists can also only be used to a limited extent and must not replace the common sense of the person placing the order. Explicitly be warned against "paper electricians"whose order document is not worth the paper because behind the "facade of the formal act" of the written order - similar to a Potemkin village that consists only of erected house facades - there is no knowledge, no experience or no knowledge of standards.

When is an employee no longer considered a qualified electrician?

Both the state of the art and standardization are advancing inexorably. This requires ongoing training for the people involved - be it on innovations or just to refresh knowledge that has already been acquired.

 

Once a qualified electrician has been acquired, it can understandably be lost again due to inadequate further training or due to the exercise of non-specialist activities over a certain period of time. [13] In view of the fast pace of technology, this means that the qualified electrician status begins to “crumble” after just one year without further training.

 

Both decisions, both the point in time from which an employee is to be regarded as a qualified electrician and the point from when the employee no longer has the qualification, lies solely with the entrepreneur or employer or the person commissioned by him in the technical area. In order to prevent arbitrariness, binding regulations - in the form of an individual company standard - should be drawn up. Otherwise, in difficult times, there is a risk that security will take second place to profitability.

 

Of course, it is much easier for an "ex-qualified electrician" to regain their status, and in a much shorter time, than a non-qualified electrician can do on the way there. In general, it can be added that a completed training in another, i.e. non-electrotechnical area suggests that the person concerned is generally able to absorb and understand learning content, practical aspects or safety-oriented behavior than a completely unskilled employee.

Conclusion

The preceding statements make it clear that the employer should also give a lot of thought to "qualified electricians" about their "qualified electrician status". This is part of good organization and a policy of the “right employee in the right place”. The most important finding here is that the concept of qualified electrician must be decoupled from vocational training and viewed as a professional status.

 

However, from the point of view of the author, in addition to the cited regulations and standards, which always necessarily offer blurring [14] and room for interpretation, in any case common sense must be used, then a majority of the questions will be answered almost by itself. If one assumes a (hopefully high) level of protection that is to be striven for, every responsible manager, regardless of whether it is an employer or entrepreneur or the responsible electrician, can derive the individually necessary action.

 

Literature and sources:

  • [1] The term is also defined several times in the employers' liability insurance association. In addition to its appearance in DGUV regulation 3 / DGUV regulation 4 "Electrical systems and equipment" in Section 2 (3), it is also included in DGUV regulation 103-011 "Live work on electrical systems and equipment" in Section 2 Number 6 defined.
  • [2] The earlier BG and today's DGUV regulations find their authorization bases in § 15 SGB VII.
  • [3] The German regulations largely use the same definition of qualified electricians. The formulations in the international works are different, but are very closely related.
  • [4] Here, the term “relevant provisions” does not only mean the narrow concept of DIN standards or DIN-VDE standards, but also regulations and provisions of other regulators.
  • [5] See the explanations in the implementation instructions for Section 2 (3) of DGUV regulation 3.
  • [6] See the examples in Chapter 3 of the book "Electrical engineering system operator and responsible qualified electrician - basic features and practical aspects of setting up a legally secure organizational structure in the field of electrical engineering according to DIN VDE 0105-100 and DIN VDE 1000-10" (Ensmann, Euler, Eber; VDE Verlag 2016, series 135, ISBN 978-3-8007-4162-5), page 157 ff.
  • [7] Same content as DIN VDE 0105-100 chap. 3.2.3.
  • [8] See the sample interview guidelines for checking qualifications as well as the orders in Chapter 6 of the book "Electrical system operator and responsible electrical specialist - Basic features and practical aspects of setting up a legally secure organizational structure in the field of electrical engineering according to DIN VDE 0105-100 and DIN VDE 1000– 10 “(Ensmann, Euler, Eber; VDE Verlag 2016, series 135, ISBN 978–3–8007–4162–5).
  • [9] The authors have drawn up a separate document on the subject of the written order.
  • [10] See also Däubler, Wolfgang - BGB compact, dtv 2008 - p. 980.
  • [11] As in DIN VDE 1000-10 chap. 5.3 i. V. with chap. 5.2.
  • [12] see also chapter 3.7.6 of the book “Responsibility and Liability in Electrical Engineering” (Markus Klar, Hüthig-Verlag 2016 ISBN 978-3-8101-0376-5) page 93 f
  • [13] See DIN VDE 1000-10: 2009–01 Appendix A (explanation on 5.2).
  • [14] This should not be understood as inaccuracies. Rather, a regulation or standard should cover a large number of life issues and bring them “under one roof”. A higher degree of abstraction must therefore be used as a basis here.

Authors

Ralf Ensmann, Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. BDSH-certified expert for the organization of the electrotechnical part of the company. Email: [email protected]

Markus Sure, Master of Laws LL.M., Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. (FH) State-certified electrical engineer and work system organizer according to REFA E ‑ Mail: [email protected]

Safety engineer 08 | 2011

TagsArarbeitsschutzArarbeitsschutzgesetzDGUV regulation 3DGUV regulation 4DGUV rule 103-011DIN VDE 1000-10 electrical systemsElectriciansEN 50110-1 / DIN VDE 0105-100IEC 61140 / VDE 0140-1QualificationResponsible electricians

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