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Here's how to distinguish a good locksmith from all the others!

Here's how to distinguish a good locksmith from all the others!
Italy is one of the few countries in which there is a standard that allows the classification of the skill levels of locksmiths. This standard, UNI 11577: 2014, which defines unregulated professional activities, is titled "professional locksmiths and safes technicians," and has been written by all the main actors involved. 

A particular strong point of this standard lies in the fact that it has been developed according to the now well-known European qualification framework (EQF), which applies to unregulated professions and defines the requirements for training, skills and competence, which must satisfy a physical subject in order to be declared compliant with the standard. 

Europe's effort to develop the regulatory framework of non-regulated activities as much as possible is the result of the fact that, thanks to this initiative, it is possible to have a uniform basis of evaluation, across Europe, of the value of a technician working in an industry or profession not already controlled by other bodies, such as medical doctors, engineers, notaries and so on. 

Articulation of the standard

The standard defines the requirements related to the professional activity of a locksmith and a safe technician both acting as professionals; that means subjects who, with specific expertise, operate in activities that are related to locks, safes and strong rooms. 

Therefore, the citizen who remains blocked outside his home should not resort to promotions and advertising that appear on the yellow pages. Such an offer may promote related services, rendered without any guarantee of specific competence and monitoring of the activity. There is enough cause to ask for a person who had declared that he is compliant with the professional profile, as defined in the standard. 

Now the standard has been fully implemented, and there are numerous technicians certified by certification bodies and accredited by the Italian accreditation body, ACCREDIA, which can offer a reliable guarantee of the service performed, to the citizen or the company, which needs the services of these subjects. 

The various levels provided by the standard 

As mentioned previously, the standard is divided into two large parts, applicable respectively to locksmith technicians and safe technicians. 

Let's start examining the locksmith technicians. 

I am pleased to remark that the standards committee has agreed to a suggestion presented by this author at the beginning of the regulatory work, which is to refer to the various documents that, over the centuries, have governed the activity of blacksmiths and locksmiths. 

In particular, the three levels agreed on are as follows: 

  • At the first level is the junior locksmith, which is able to operate with relative autonomy and competence in a commercial operation. This person can duplicate keys; can choose the appropriate key and lock among a wide range of professional catalogs; knows how to give suggestions and advice to the customer about opportunities to replace a lock, rather than make a key duplicate. He is also able to carry out simple repairs and maintenance on locks, supplied by the customer.
  • At the second level is the senior locksmith, who is able to operate in the field and therefore must have acquired a high of training and professionalism, because he may need to enter into a relationship with a client, who could also be in a state of particular discomfort, for example because he was locked out of his home. The standard, however, does not allow for full autonomy in the field; therefore, such a subject may operate in the field in support of a locksmith, who is classified at the third level. 
  • At the third level is the master locksmith, using a reference name, frequently used in the statutes of the corporations and brotherhoods of late medieval epoch; such a subject has full competence and ability to work in the field, to design and develop master locking systems, to carry out even the most difficult operation in full autonomy. 
For each of these levels the standard defines the specific training, skills and competence requirements, which must be documented by appropriate supporting documentation and validated by specific assessment procedures, which will be defined by the certification bodies, in compliance with the indications of the standard. 

Let's talk about the interventions for safes 

Anybody who works in this sector, is familiar with the rough classification of the safes available on the market, depending on whether they comply with a simplified standard, which refer to safe containers, mostly used in the interiors of the apartments, or real safes, which are classified according to a much more stringent standard. Such safes can be found in professional studios, jewelers, notaries, etc., have resistance characteristics far greater than those of the "safe containers" of the previous standard and therefore require very high skills for intervention. 

Let us not forget that often this family of safes is equipped with relocking devices, which block the door of the safe in an almost irreversible way, in case of attack ; such relockers can be neutralized only by locksmiths with specific and long experience. 

At this point, a customer, both a private citizen and a bank security manager, when he must identify a technician that is able to perform an intervention on safes, must first classify the intervention, depending on whether it refers to safe containers, safes or armored doors or other locking devices. 

Subsequently he/she must choose, in the list available at institutes specialized for certified locksmiths, or at trade associations, the technicians owning a declaration of conformity to the profile, depending on the complexity of the requested intervention. 

The near future 

Nowadays in Italy there are many locksmiths certified according to this standard and the complete list is available at the accredited certification body – ICIM. Since the standard has been implemented according to an European scheme, the profile of these technicians can also be recognized and accepted in other countries and this is why the Italian standard body - UNI is working to make available an English translation of the standard, which could facilitate its application in other countries. 

In the meantime, users, both private citizens and companies, already have available a list of reliable subjects, not because of a large advertising box on the yellow pages, but because they are objectively competent! 

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