There is a lot of legislation, plus regulations and standards that surround safety in electricity.
Ensuring that you are operating in a safe environment and maintaining electrical compliance with safety legislation is vital.
Regular testing and inspection of both fixed electrical installations and portable appliances, completed by qualified electricians, is the most effective way to ensure compliance with health and safety law.
Testing should consist of both scheduled visual inspections and tests. Electrical inspection and testing procedures are determined by the type of installation:
- Initial Verification Inspection and Testing: For new build or alterations to fixed electrical installations
- Periodic Inspection and Testing: Fixed wire tests of existing electrical installations
- Portable Appliance (PAT) Testing: Portable electrical appliances
In addition, basic, visual inspections of electrical equipment (both fixed installations and portable appliances) carried out on a regular basis can identify faults and defects before they develop into a serious hazard.
New electrical installations
Fixed installations must be certified as safe and compliant with BS 7671:2018 where they are either:
- newly-installed or
- alterations involving new circuits have been made to an existing installation.
Periodic fixed testing
A programme of regular testing and inspection of a building’s electrical installations and systems can ensure continued compliance and maintenance.
Any potential or existing defects that need to be rectified should be highlighted by the electrical engineer, and a new report issued after the corrective works have been carried out.
Fixed Wire Testing
(Sometimes called Fixed Installation Testing or Fixed Electrical Testing)
Fixed Wire Testing involves testing the electrical circuits and systems that distribute electricity around a building. It covers all the hard wiring in a building, whether that building is commercial, industrial or residential.
Included in this are the circuits supplying lighting and power circuits, along with any distribution boards and consumer units. The testing identifies any potential hazards within an electrical installation. It will highlight a lack of earthing or bonding and reveal if circuits are potentially overloaded or have been installed incorrectly.
Once fixed wire testing has been carried out, you will be issued with an EICR certificate.
EICR stands for 'Electrical Installation Condition Report'.
Fixed Wire testing is a legal requirement. Employers are legally obliged to ensure that all electrical equipment and wiring is regularly maintained, in order to comply with the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
In addition, routine fixed wire testing is often contractually required by insurance companies, licensing authorities and landlords. Failure to arrange regular fixed wire testing can be regarded as a breach of contract.
The frequency of testing required for compliance varies between environments, determined by a number of factors such as the use, operation and other external influences affecting the installation.
An example of the legislation surrounding electrical compliance is Part P.
Since 2005, all electrical work in dwellings in England and Wales, whether carried out professionally or as DIY, must meet the requirements of Part P of the Building Regulations.
Part P is in place to keep people as safe as possible from electrical hazards, and applies to new domestic properties, as well as any alterations or additions to electrical installations in existing properties, including full or partial rewires.
Part P states that anyone carrying out electrical work in a dwelling must ensure that reasonable provision has been made in the design and installation of the electrical installations in order to protect any persons who might use, maintain or alter the electrical installation of that dwelling from fire and injury, including electric shock.
By law, the homeowner or landlord must be able to prove that all electrical installation work on their property meets the requirements of Part P, or they will be committing a criminal offence.
Local authorities have the power to make homeowners or landlords remove or alter any work that does not meet the requirements of the Building Regulations.