Aerial installer legal issues

Various pieces of legislation may apply to your aerial services business, particularly in the areas of health and safety and possibly employment law.

The following is an outline of some of the areas which may well be relevant to your business.

What licences does an aerial installer need?

Aerial and satellite installers don't have to be licensed or registered by law. So if you're just going to fit and repair television aerials, satellite dishes and similar equipment then you may not have to do anything further.

However, you may need to be aware of the following:

  • before erecting a scaffold on or over a public highway, you are obliged by law to obtain a permit from your local highway authority. Some local authorities also require you to obtain a scaffolding permit before putting up a scaffold in a public place. If you use a specialist scaffolder, they will often take responsibility for arranging any scaffolding permits needed. For more information, contact your local authority planning department or environmental health department
  • if you offer credit facilities to consumers (for example for the purchase of expensive television equipment) then you'll need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • if you keep computerised records of individuals' personal details - perhaps for the purposes of credit finance - you may be required to register as a data user with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) unless you are covered by an exemption
  • if you offer an insurance backed warranty - even if you make no extra charge for this - then you will be covered by general insurance legislation regulated by the FCA (this also applies to other general insurance products if you sell or advise on them)

Electrical work

You might decide to do some types of work - for example installing certain types of CCTV system - that involve mains electrical wiring.

Electricians who work on domestic premises must where necessary carry out the work to the standards of Part P of the Building Regulations. To avoid having to get each job approved and inspected by Building Control, it's possible to register as an approved 'competent person' who can self-certify their own work. More information about the Building Regulations and approved competent person schemes is available on the Gov.uk website. You can find out more about Building Regulations in Northern Ireland on the Department of Finance website.

Television dealers

Television dealers were previously required to register with TV Licensing and pass on to them details of each relevant sale. However, this requirement was removed in 2013. Dealers do not require a television licence to display, demonstrate, repair and test television equipment at their premises. They do need a licence though if they use television for other purposes - for example for staff to watch in a staff room. Television dealers can contact TV Licensing to register as exempt from the normal television licensing requirement.

Waste carrier registration

You will need to register as a lower tier waste carrier (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or a professional collector or transporter of waste (Scotland) if you carry away waste that you have generated in the course of an installation. Registration is free of charge and lasts indefinitely. Note that the lower tier registration does not cover building waste - if you carry this in the course of your work then you will need to pay for upper tier registration (or the equivalent in Scotland).

Waste carrier registration is carried out by:

  • the Environment Agency in England
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • the Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Voluntary certification

Many would-be customers, particularly contractors like other aerial installers or builders, will want to satisfy themselves that your business does good quality work. One way of demonstrating this is to get your skills certified. The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) certifies anyone working in the electrical industry. The scheme includes a section for aerial and satellite installers. You can find out more about the ECS card for aerial installers on the ECS website.

The Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) requires applicants for membership to undergo an assessment process to check that they comply with CAI standards before being accepted into membership. Members must demonstrate that they work to standards outlined in the CAI Codes of Practice and British Standards.

The Registered Digital Institute (RDI) focuses on enabling trained, qualified and experienced installers to become affiliated to an industry-recognised authority. All RDI members must qualify to be accepted into the Institute and must meet the requirements set out in a code of conduct. There is more information on the RDI website.

Estimates and quotes

You'll often be asked by potential customers for information about what you'd charge to do a particular job. It's important that you make it completely clear about whether you're giving them a quotation - a legally binding agreement to do the work at a specific price - or an estimate, which isn't binding and is just an approximate idea of what you might charge.

If you're in any doubt about your obligations under contract law, you should get some professional legal advice.

General consumer protection legislation

Special regulations exist to protect consumers from dishonest traders, 'cowboys' and others who rip off the general public - for example by claiming to belong to a trade association or hold a particular qualification when they don't. There is detailed information on many different aspects of consumer protection legislation on the Trading Standards Business Companion website.

Voluntary codes of practice

Although not legally binding, voluntary codes of practice are designed to encourage minimum standards of quality and service among traders who sign up to them. The CAI has several codes of practice for installers, and requires its members to stick to their terms.

Sources of further Information

Most trade associations can advise their members about regulatory issues that affect them. The CAI, for example, publishes a guide to health and safety in the aerial installation industry. More information about this and other useful publications is available on the CAI website.

Health & safety, fire

Installing and repairing aerial equipment at height is potentially a very hazardous activity, so it's very important that you keep up to date with health and safety regulations.

The Health and Safety at Work Act and many regulations made under it cover all aspects of workplace health and safety. Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety at work of all their employees. Those with five or more employees must prepare a written health and safety policy statement. Some key areas where health and safety regulations affect your business, particularly if you employ staff, include:

  • working at height
  • lifting heavy items
  • working on and near to electrical systems and equipment
  • use of electrical equipment (power tools and so on)
  • use of drilling and cutting equipment
  • access to first aid equipment
  • adequate provision and use of protective clothing and equipment
  • reporting of any accidents and injuries at work

The Work at Height Regulations cover all work done at height where there is a risk of falling that could cause personal injury. The Regulations place very specific duties on both employers and self-employed workers to make sure that all necessary safety precautions are taken when people are working at or above a certain height. Duties include:

  • assessing all risks
  • planning and organising all work at height properly
  • making sure all people involved are competent, and all equipment used is safe and appropriate

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include:

Recruitment and employment contracts

Pay and pensions

Working time: hours, leave, flexible working

Employment policies

Sickness and sick pay

Maternity, paternity and adoption

Discrimination

Managing home workers, remote workers, lone workers

Discipline and grievance

Dismissals and redundancies

Employment tribunals

Insurance for an aerial installer

When you start up in business you'll need insurance cover. Contact an insurer and explain exactly how the business will operate - they'll then be able to recommend what cover you should have. This should include:

  • public liability
  • employer's liability (if you have any employees)
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles), possibly with cover for goods and equipment carried in your vehicles

It might also include:

  • professional and contract indemnity
  • product liability
  • legal expenses cover
  • tools, equipment and plant
  • personal cover - including accident and injury, loss of earnings and so on
  • business interruption
  • premises and premises contents (if you have any premises)

When you're taking out personal and employer's liability cover it's particularly important to give precise details of the types of activity that you and any staff you employ will be engaging in. Be prepared to answer questions about the type of work you'll be doing, the height at which you'll be working, where you'll be working, the type of tools and equipment you'll be using, your health and safety policy and so on.

Business insurance policies for businesses like aerial installers whose activities involve working at height can be costly, so it would be a good idea to get some quotes at an early stage in your planning. Shop around to get the best cover at the most affordable price.

The Confederation of Aerial Industries (CAI) offers access to bespoke business insurance for its members that is specially tailored to meet the needs of the aerial industry. The CAI requires its members to have a certain level of public liability and, if applicable, employer's liability insurance. You can find out more on the CAI website.

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