Requirements for Fixed Electrical Test & Inspections
Fixed Installation Testing or Periodic Inspection and Testing, as it is often referred to, is a report on the electrical wiring of a property, outlining any defects it may have that can prove to be a safety hazard. The Owner of a building or the ‘Duty Holder’ has a duty of care to the users of that building. The wiring within buildings is an area that is often taken for granted, yet it can be a major cause of fire, injury and even death through electric shocks.
In order to help ensure that a building is safe it is the responsibility of the Duty Holder to comply with the ‘Electricity at Work Regulations 1989’.
The ‘Electricity at Work Regulations 1989’ say
Regulation 4(1) and 4(2) states that:
“All systems shall at all times, be of such construction as to prevent, as far as is reasonably practicable, danger.”
“Construction means: designed, installed, maintained and operated.”
Paragraph 69 of Regulation 4 of the Memorandum of Guidance Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 goes on to state that:
“Records of maintenance, including test results must be kept; otherwise a ‘Duty Holder’ cannot be certain that the requirement for maintenance has been complied with.”
Why carry out Periodic fixed installation test & Inspections?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that to comply with the regulations, an inspection and testing programme should be undertaken at all places of work.
Periodic inspection and testing is necessary because all electrical installations deteriorate due to a number of factors such as damage, wear, tear, corrosion, excessive electrical loading, ageing and environmental influences.
The requirements for fixed installation testing are contained within the Institution of Electrical Engineers 18th Edition, Wiring Regulations (BS 7671). Depending upon the type of establishment, the frequency of inspection and testing will vary. However, all electrical installations require testing to meet the requirements of the IET Wiring Regulations.
How can the Duty Holder decide on the level of testing?
Implement a risk assessment approach, considering the ABSOLUTE requirements of the ‘Electricity at Work Regulations 1989’ and your ‘defendable’ position as a Duty Holder.
Your Risk Assessment should take the following into consideration:
Do you have previous records?
i.e. A previous Electrical Installation Condition Report including full circuit test records / Have all previously found Category 1 and/or 2 defects been rectified / Is there clear evidence that the installation is in a well maintained condition / Details of the electrical distribution system such as Schematic Drawings.
a) If not: - a complete inspection and testing programme should be undertaken. Without complete records, the duty holder(s) cannot be certain that their legal responsibility for maintenance has been complied with.
On request Regspec can also provide you with Full Schematic Drawings, detailing and mapping out the Electrical Distribution System within your building. We can also provide you with detailed Distribution Board Circuit Charts.
b) If you do have the appropriate records: - then it will be possible to carry out sample testing.
Sample testing has the benefit of being carried out with very little disruption to the everyday operations within your every day activities and the cost to your business will be greatly reduced.
It is mentioned within Guidance Note 3 of the Wiring Regulations where it passes responsibility for determining the scope and extent of the inspection and testing to the inspector (contractor). The guidance note states however that the decision should be based not only on the inspector’s experience but also his knowledge of the installation and by consulting any available records.
What if we are unable shut all systems down?
Many companies, organisations such as Hospitals, Food Production, Finance, and Computer Data Storage Facilities etc. can find it extremely difficult to organise a full shutdown of the electrical supplies. In such a case, Regspec can offer a testing programme that will comply with BS7671 2008 (the relevant guidance for the application of the ‘Electricity at Work Act 1989’).
This will involve:
A thorough visual inspection of all accessible parts of the electrical distribution system.
All Distribution Boards will be opened where practical to do so and a sample of circuits will be fully tested where possible.
All Distribution Boards and Main Switchgear will be monitored using a Thermographic Imaging Camera.
The use of a Thermographic Imaging Camera will identify defects such as:
Excessive heat abnormalities to components / containment systems.
2. Overheated cables and terminations, which could indicate loose
connections and excessive cable loading.
3. Inefficiencies within your electrical system that can significantly increase
the risk of electrical system breakdowns, fire and injury.
Our flow chart, shown below, illustrates how you can meet your requirements for compliancy.