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Topic Title: Colour blindness
Topic Summary: is this still classed as a problem
Created On: 16 April 2005 12:39 AM
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 16 April 2005 12:39 AM
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leepeth

Posts: 136
Joined: 30 March 2005

Would anybody be able to tell me whether colour blindness is still classed as a big no in electrical work. I ask as I've worked as both an electronic engineer for two years without much of a problem, and also as an electrical inspector for two years.
All I have ever got from people is - "you can't do that, you're colour blind" when most people don't actually understand that the most common type of colour blindness is a red/green deficiency. Seeing as single colour green is not allowed by the wiring regs (I think) then this obviously cannot be a problem. Sometimes I do find that red and brown are difficult to distinguish in certain lights, depending on the shades, but as both of these are for the live phase, there isn't much of a problem.
I just would like to know whether the people who set the rules of "normal colour vision only" would actually like to look into it a bit deeper and realise that unless you have quite acute colour deficiency then there is not a problem at all. If this is good enough for the police to accept in their requirements, then I do not understand why this industry should be the same without any thought about the different levels of deficency.
Thanks for listening, and hopefully some replies!
 16 April 2005 08:36 PM
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gkenyon

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I think the level of colour-blindness must now be taken into account as a legal requirement. In fact, these days, to be realistic, I understand it's a legal requirement (DDA Regs???) for an employer has to make all reasonable provisions to enable a person with a "disability" to do any job.

Since most safety and functional issues within electronic and electrical engineering and technical work, that could be construed to result from colour-blindness, can be worked around in some way or another, I don't really see it as a big issue.

I think you'll still find exceptions in places where the risks of mistake increase (nuclear and aerospace industries, and military, for example).

-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH

Edited: 16 April 2005 at 08:39 PM by gkenyon
 16 April 2005 09:11 PM
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leepeth

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Thank you very much for this reply, it is nice to finally have someone who agrees with me about this matter, especially someone with qualification to make this point. I completely agree with the you highlighting that in certain dangerous industries that I wouldn't get through the door, but to me a simple sparky or electrical engineer, there is no need for perfect colour vision.
Thanks again!
 02 May 2005 03:49 PM
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ebee

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I think the problem may be more theoritcal than most realise. After all I have never met anyone so colour blind as to havemonochromic vision. Like you say green/yellow for earth is two distinct shades for anyone and irrespective of colour coding all conductors should be checked before working on (how many blacks (now blue) in switches are actually nuetral polarity and how many sparks have difficulty distinguishing the new "killer colours" we have adopted from Europe?)

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 02 May 2005 04:23 PM
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pdcelec

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I agree that colour coding should not present too much of a problem but I am a sparky and do not consider myself as simple. The reason I do my job is because I enjoy it (2 X ONC, 2 x HNC, 3 x c&g, various other quals).
 02 May 2005 06:20 PM
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leepeth

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Sorry for my wording, I should have said humble, not simple! I too have got 2xOND's, 1xHNC and a couple of C&G's but I'm also working as a humble sparky because I enjoy it...
I hope you don't take offence at humble either.

Edited: 02 May 2005 at 06:26 PM by leepeth
 03 May 2005 09:49 AM
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Samuel Chan

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My case. I'm color blindness. Therefore I've faced many difficulties and avoid facing questions on color. I've quitted a job because I can't distinguish the cables color!
In general, law, ..., I'm okay but I can't change the people mind on this. But everything is okay, I'm used to live in a color blindness world.
 03 May 2005 09:06 PM
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leepeth

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Are you an actual monochromat then? I'm not too bad as I only have a problem really distinguishing red, green and brown. I can't even imagine what it must be like to see in black and white, but at the same time I don't know what normal colour vision looks like...
 05 May 2005 01:53 AM
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Samuel Chan

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I have problem in red & green related color. B/W is okay.
 09 May 2005 07:01 PM
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leepeth

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I'm the same as you green/red/brown. I'm terrible at snooker especially, always potting fantastic browns and then being told they're not red...
I've never had any problems with electrical cable colours though, apart from the new and old single phase colours, but that's not really a problem.
Wiring up scart sockets and datacoms is a bit beyond me though, but not something I class as being really bothered about.
 12 May 2005 04:54 PM
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PADAVIES

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You may be interested in the IEE's information sheet on colour vision defects (http://www.iee.org/Policy/Area...olourvisiondefects.pdf. "Colour blindness" is a subject that raises many issues within the profession, particularly when you consider that approx. 8% of the male population of the UK suffers from defective colour vision (not colour blindness please!). The number of restricted occupations appears to be dwindling, perhaps in part due to an interpretation of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Because the disability range of colour vision defects is very wide, many companies are taking a "horses for courses" view, assessing the risks by job and individual rather than imposing a blanket ban.

Regards,
Paul Davies
Policy Dept.
IEE


-------------------------
Paul Davies
Manager, Policy Dept.
Institution of Engineering and Technology.
 31 May 2005 11:53 PM
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numouse

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Whilst I'm not a heavy-current engineer (my qualifications and work are in electronics and broadcast television respectively), I found the points you raised very interesting and the difficulty in 'distinguishing red from brown depending on shade' reminds me of situations I have been in, in poorly-lit conditions. It is common practice to use resistor colour-coded sleeves to number signal cabling in equipment bay frames, the majority of which are often densely-populated and of very thin gauge. This is sometimes extended to multiple-channel audio areas by using coloured boots on XLR plugs. In more than one case it has been very difficult to identify the colours, behind both supposedly well-lit studio apparatus rooms, and in outside broadcast trucks in the winter, particularly when one's eyes have to adjust from an hour spent in a darkened gallery ! The remedy of course is to remember a fundamental of good workmanship - my torch.
These environments were a powerful proof (to me in particular, being a vision engineer) of a piece of theory behind my discipline (implementation/operation of broadcast systems incorporating light, optics and visual processing and digital signalling). Though my colour vision is 'completely normal', I was having trouble differentiating between most of the colours. It reminded me I was at this point relying more on scotopic, rather than photopic vision. The former is the mode in which the eye operates (using the rods rather than the cones) where ambient light is very low. The result is near black-and-white eyesight. A further pheonomenon, the Purkinje Shift, also comes in to play in such light levels, and desensitises the eye to the red end of the spectrum, and sensitises it more to the blue end. Both phenomena are not 'brick walls', they are a sort of gradual slide. Despite working with 'brightly' (ie saturated) regulation-coloured cable sleeves, unless I remember to light the work area well, I may be on the threshold of one of these laws of physics/chemistry/biology, and see very little colour when trying to locate and plug such signal cables 'against the clock'. Fortunately for me, I am only working with AC at a volt, the penalty being disruption to a recording or transmission, rather than to life and limb.
 02 June 2005 03:34 AM
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lkchild

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Personally I have one of the worst cases of colour blindness my optician had ever seen, and yet Ive never had a problem wiring a plug, even with the old (old old) colour schemes. Reading resistor codes is hellish difficult, but when it comes to the mains and high voltage wiring that everyone expects colourblind people to be terrible at, Ive never ever had a problem.

I seem to remember seeing a study that showed colourblind electricians were safer than normal sighted ones, as we test our installations more. It really comes down to knowing your limitations, and if youve lived with a limitation all your life, you get to know it pretty well

The only thing that regularly causes me to gripe is the orange and green pairs in Cat 5 network cabling, but with proper study I can work out the difference by comparing each colour with the surrounding colours. If the cables aren't being made to the EIA specified colour schemes I often put those two pairs together to aid in the comparison.

I should point out here that I dont actually work as an electrician - I work with communications networks. It would be interesting to know whether I would be allowed to though.

-------------------------
Lauren Child MIET MIEE
 04 June 2005 08:47 PM
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leepeth

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As I've said before, I work as an electrician and I've yet to have a problem colour wise. If I could get through 2 1/2 years doing electronics work, and then 2 years doing electrical work without a single problem, I don't think it's anybody's place to tell me what I can and can't do!
The moment most people hear 'colour blind' the immediate reaction is ALWAYS "what colour is that then?", you tell them the correct colour and so they don't think that have got a problem. Most people do not seem to realise that it's more of a tonal problem than a total, say red/green problem. I've never had difficulty differentiating between traffic light colours, not because of the position, but because the green is such a light grey green to me it is totally dissimilar, the same goes for the green on a snooker table compared to the reds. The snooker tables brown compared to the reds though, well that's a different matter all together!
I also recently took a colour vision test for a police medical, which I managed to get 7 out of 10 correct, which I was well impressed with, and I don't see why if the police can have a certain colour vision standard (which is no monochromats only) instead of just a blanket ban on colour vision defects, I don't see why other industries cannot be the same...
 04 January 2006 03:16 AM
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deleted_musicbymail

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I am wanting to do an apprenticeship in electrical installation (i.e. to become an electrician) but the JIB seems to state NO colour vision defects are acceptable. I have done full house rewires in the past (before the beloved part p) without any difficulty and dont see why i cant be a qualified electrician one day. And as the new core colours are now in place i see even less of a reason for this level of discrimination. I just want to know where i stand and if i will ever be able to do my dream job. I understand that the Disability Descrimination Act seems to have sent some ripples through the industry but i still cant seem to find out how legal the JIB's policys are. If anyone could enlighten me or possibly give me some usefull and healpfull advice then please do. My colour vision defect is so slight that i never notice it on a day to day basis although i do fail a colour vision test. Ok occasionally i will call a purple a blue for example, but put the two next to each other and i can distinguish one is different from the other.
 08 January 2006 11:40 PM
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gbwilliams

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I am colour blind to the extent that when working away from home, my wife sews a code number on each tie and writes those tie numbers which co-ordinate on the tails of each shirt!
I have found over the years that colour perception is related to the physical area of each colour. Cable sheaths which bear a single colour are usually (for me anyway) not too much of a problem, particularly when dealing with, say, domestic mains. The area of colour is adequately large. I can safely wire a plug. Cat 5 cables become far more difficult because the colour strand against the white body colour is a much smaller area and the problem of differentiation becomes more difficult. Resistor colour codes - not a chance! Far too small bands of colour. Same with those neons which glow either red or green
This also manifests itself in other ways. Blue and orange flashing lights are indestinguishable at a distance (but no problem close up) and all cars are the same colour at 800 metres (bland!). I always felt this was something to do with how many rods and cones in the eye were exposed to the area of colour, but then I'm and engineer not a biologist!
 10 January 2006 03:53 PM
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jcatt

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Can I try to clear this one up. I have a deficiency in red, green colour perception (note-not blindness!!). Of course I am not colour blind and have been carrying out electrical work for many years without a problem. I can identify many multicore colours when bunched together. When I failed the perception test I asked for an alternative one and was given practical tasks to complete which proved I was suitable to work in the electrical industry.
 14 March 2006 04:46 PM
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barsbyd

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Pleasantly amused to see people writing about colour blindness (sorry poor colour perception) and describing perfectly how I find my red/brown, green/orange, blue/purple world.

I too have played with wiring houses and comms equipment although I don't work as sparks.

Although I can't offer any sound advice except to look at Paul Davies's information sheet which is very good I can offer an anecdote of only last week: When re-wiring the telephone system in our house I came across a junction box with the new blue/white, orange/white cables in one side and some solid, red? brown? green? orange? wires on the other side. Simple solution was to ask my 3 year old daughter! Imagine her concerned expression as I asked such daft questions as "what colour is this?" - Now she's successfully wired her first telephone system perhaps I should get her a membership...

-------------------------
Darren Barsby MIET
 15 March 2006 10:56 AM
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ahouston

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quote:

Originally posted by: barsbyd
Pleasantly amused to see people writing about colour blindness (sorry poor colour perception) and describing perfectly how I find my red/brown, green/orange, blue/purple world.

I too have played with wiring houses and comms equipment although I don't work as sparks.

Although I can't offer any sound advice except to look at Paul Davies's information sheet which is very good I can offer an anecdote of only last week: When re-wiring the telephone system in our house I came across a junction box with the new blue/white, orange/white cables in one side and some solid, red? brown? green? orange? wires on the other side. Simple solution was to ask my 3 year old daughter! Imagine her concerned expression as I asked such daft questions as "what colour is this?" - Now she's successfully wired her first telephone system perhaps I should get her a membership...


I don't, as far as I know, suffer from any defects in my colour vision but the other day - when refitting a telephone socket - I had trouble telling the difference between the white with green trace and the white with blue trace wires. My wife tells me that one "must use a daylight bulb when doing embroidery, since an 'ordinary bulb' can 'change' the colours". I think she's correct.

Now let me see, it's Green/White, Blue/White, Orange/White, White/Orange, White/Blue, White/Green 1 to 6 ?? Send in the three year old please !

Eur Ing Andrew Houston CEng, MIEE



-------------------------
Andy
EurIng Andrew Houston CEng FIET
PRA, PRI and Volunteer Career Manager Advisor
 06 April 2006 01:51 AM
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spinlondon

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I thought, that one of the reasons the new harmonised colours were brought in, was because of colour blindness?
IET » Other and general engineering discussions » Colour blindness

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