Setting a standard of excellence within the highway electrical sector

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Going for gold: HERS and HEA membership standards

HERS | Insights

Published:  June 10, 2024

As one of the largest and most influential bodies within the highway electrical sector, the HEA is responsible for administering the Highway Electrical Registration Scheme (HERS), which sets standards for the competency of individuals and organisations working on highway electrical systems, such as street lighting, traffic signals, communications and other related infrastructure.

But what does HERS involve, and what’s the difference between HERS and HERS Gold? And why should organisations aspire to HEA membership standards?

Let’s take a closer look…

What’s HERS all about?

The highway electrical sector has embraced the need to address health and safety standards. As a result, the National Highways Sector Scheme 8 (NHSS8) was established with the involvement of National Highways.

The NHSS8 scheme requires all employees working within a highway electrical organisation to be assessed against strict standards, proving their competence and allowing them to be certificated as an authorised person.

HERS is the industry standard for proving the competence of employees and ensuring all organisations operating within the highway electrical sector are fully compliant with NHSS8.

HERS has four main objectives:

  • To carry out an assessment of competence of employees working within the highway electrical sector
  • To provide a system of approved training organisations to deliver training courses, ensuring the underpinning knowledge of employees.
  • To provide a system whereby the competence of employees can be maintained and managed over time.
  • To recognise competence through the issuing of ECS HERS cards by the JIB under the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS), which also provides affiliation to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).

Following successful assessments, all authorised persons are placed on a register and issued with a registration card — giving peace of mind to clients and overseeing organisations that they are meeting their responsibilities under the CDM (construction, design and management) regulations.

What’s so special about HERS Gold?

HERS Gold represents a higher registration level for organisations and highway electrical professionals, with more stringent requirements and greater recognition in the industry — potentially leading to more opportunities and trust from clients.

The key differences between HERS and HERS Gold are:

HERS

  1. Competency and safety standards. HERS ensures individuals meet specific competency and safety standards required for their roles. This includes proper training, qualifications and adherence to industry standards.
  2. Continual professional development (CPD). Registrants are required to engage in ongoing professional development to maintain their skills and knowledge.
  3. Assessment and audit. Individuals and their employers are subject to periodic assessments and audits to ensure compliance with the scheme’s standards.
  4. The standard HERS logo is available to all compliant HERS-registered organisations.

HERS Gold

  1. Higher standards of excellence. Achieving HERS Gold status indicates that an organisation not only meets the HERS standards but exceeds them in terms of management and operational excellence.
  2. The registered organisation shall have at least 80% of its registrable employees registered to the HERS and in possession of HERS cards at any one time.
  3. The registered organisation shall not be in default of any outstanding technical audit action plans (e.g. any audit actions have been completed within the agreed timescales and the escalation process has not been invoked).

Whilst HERS Gold is comparatively ‘easy’ for micro businesses to achieve and maintain, it becomes exponentially more difficult the larger the contracting organisation (i.e. the more employees they have). For any contracting organisation to achieve this level with a significant number of employees and multi-site operations is an achievement indeed. 

What about the HEA membership standards?

The HEA membership standards are the quality standards that all contracting organisations should aspire to (HEMSA for manufacturers, suppliers and designers).

Not only is there a requirement for relevant employees to be registered to HERS, but the HEA member code of conduct places additional requirements over and above those of HERS and NHSS8 — providing a higher level of assurance still to clients, suppliers and buyers.

The HEA membership standards cover various aspects, such as technical competence, safety management, quality assurance and continuous professional development…

Technical competence

  • Members must demonstrate competence in relevant aspects of design, equipment supply, installation, maintenance and operation of highway electrical systems, including street lighting, traffic signals, communications and other related infrastructure.
  • Compliance with relevant industry standards and regulations, such as the IET Wiring Regulations (BS 7671), is required.

Safety management

  • Implementation of robust health and safety policies and procedures to protect employees, clients and the public.
  • Adherence to safety guidelines specific to the highway electrical industry.
  • Registered as appropriate to an electrical installation certification scheme, such as the ECA Certification Scheme, the HEA EIS (Electrical Inspection Service), NAPIT, NICEIC or equivalent.

Quality assurance

  • Establishment of quality management systems to ensure the delivery of consistent services and products.
  • Regular audits and inspections to maintain and improve quality standards.
  • Commitment to achieving and maintaining relevant certifications, such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management).
  • Commitment to customer focus.

Training and development

  • Continuous professional development for all staff to keep up to date with the latest technologies, regulations and best practices to maintain their competence.
  • Access to and completion of training programmes provided by the Highway Electrical Skills Academy (HESA).
  • Encouragement of staff to attain relevant qualifications and certifications in the highway electrical sector.

Environmental responsibility

  • Adoption of sustainable practices and technologies to minimise environmental impact.
  • Implementation of policies to reduce waste, energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Ethical standards

  • Adherence to ethical business practices and codes of conduct.
  • Commitment to fairness, honesty and integrity in all business dealings.

Compliance and accountability

  • Ensuring compliance with all relevant laws, regulations and industry standards.
  • Participation in regular assessments and audits conducted by the HEA or third-party auditors to verify compliance with standards.

HEA members have agreed these membership standards as part of the HEA bylaws. This ensure  members maintain good levels of professionalism, competency and safety in the highway electrical sector. In turn, these standards ensure HEA members are recognised for their excellence and reliability across the industry.

For more information about these standards and to find out why you should become a member of the HEA, visit our membership benefits page. 

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