Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.
Roger Sharp has had a varied career in the electrical industry and has had over 40 years of close involvement with the ‘Wiring Rules’ - from working as an insider as an Engineer/Secretary to the committee, to becoming its Chair. Today he is the Chair of EL-001-09 Wiring rules drafting subcommittee and sits on over 10 electrical related Standards Australia committees.
How did you become involved in standards development?
In April 1980 I was successful in applying for the position with Standards Association of Australia (SAA) - as Standards Australia was then known - as Engineer/Secretary to the Wiring Rules Committee. This involved the day-to-day management of the standard with drafting work leading to the publication of the 1981 edition and beginning over 40 years of close involvement with the ‘Wiring Rules’ and its range of associated electrical installation standards.
While I moved on from SAA employment in 1983 it was into a NSW regulatory role position that involved management of electrical installation and equipment safety regulations that were dependent on Australian Standards. With the role came membership of the Wiring Rules Committee and its subcommittees, taking up the Chair role in 1990 through to 2011 – including a period of which as an independent role and lastly as NECA representative – reflecting the last (but still current) stage of working in the electrical contracting industry.
What role have standards played in your career?
Apart from my employment record, described above, working on standards has introduced me to people from around Australia that have possessed great knowledge, experience and understanding of electrical safety principles and practices.
In the early stage, at least, many members were nearing the end of their careers and were enabled through the committee to share their experience. This attitude has contributed greatly to my own experience in understanding why certain provisions have been made and that many of the ‘new safety initiatives’ arising today have often been ‘done before’ or ‘don’t need to be done’.
What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver?
Bringing together the publication of AS/NZS3000: 2000.
In the nine years it took to develop the standard we were able to incorporate the international fundamental safety principles as expressed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), take on board New Zealand participation, and introduce a major change in structure as requested by regulators at the time. The final product was not without its critics and subsequent changes in direction have been made by new committees in the two revisions since.
Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career?
My career has spanned a period in which tremendous changes have taken place in electrical installations and work practices due mainly to the benefits of advances in equipment.
As a simple marker, electrical fatalities in the 1970s were often 100+/year compared to current rates of around 10 per year for a population that is twice as large– many of which can be attributed to better products and practices delivered by standards.
What do you think the future of standardisation looks like?
it’s hard to say – certainly not the same ‘studied/researched approach’ as when I started. Within the electrical sector it seems clear that Australia will continue to follow/adopt a global approach rather than to have to set parochial or unique conditions.
Within the Wiring Rules future – regulatory interest is waning, but I would see the standard maintaining a strong educational footing with the needs of users and the way they obtain timely information being the critical challenge.
Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year?
I am sure that the majority of staff and contributors to standards would agree that while there has been nothing ‘standard’ about working with ‘standards’.