What does this mean in practice?
Every electrical installation deteriorates both with use and over time, so it is important that every installation is periodically inspected and tested by a competent person to ensure that the safety of persons using the installation is not put at risk. The results of the test and inspection are clearly detailed in a report together with a list of “observations” which are items noted during the test that identify any damage, defects, deterioration or dangerous conditions within the installation.
For ease of understanding, these observations are currently coded with a number from 1 to 4. With the forthcoming EICR, this numbering system is to replaced by codes C1 to C3. These codes relate to a set of clear guidance notes given to the recipient of the report allowing them to accurately assess the condition of their electrical installation and to make a decision about any remedial works required.
Whilst there is no direct or specific law requiring testing and inspection of electrical installations to be carried out, there are various duties imposed upon employers, landlords and persons responsible for premises which require them to provide a safe place of work.
Insurance providers are also increasingly requesting evidence of electrical test and inspections as a condition of providing cover and often this requirement is hidden among the small print on the policy schedule. Unfortunately, it is only when a claim is made that this requirement comes to light and the claimant discovers, to their dismay, that they are not covered under the terms of their policy.
In April 1990, the Electricity at fire alarm regulations Work Regulations 1989 (EAW) came into force, their purpose being to require precautions to be taken against the risk of death or personal injury from electricity in work activities. One of the most important parts of this legislation (outlined under Regulation 4) relates to the requirement to select, construct, operate and maintain electrical systems in a manner so as prevent danger.
A test and inspection regime in accordance with BS7671:2008 (as amended) is recognised by the Health & Safety Executive as an effective way of conforming with the requirements of the EAW Regulations in regard to maintaining electrical systems and is especially useful in as much that it provides a written record of the condition of an installation at the time of the test. Similarly, if someone is considering alterations or additions to their electrical installations, carrying out a test & inspection beforehand, especially if no previous records exist, can ultimately save time and money.
Just as the vast majority of people wouldn’t consider driving a car without an MOT, why should they consider the state of their building’s electrical installation as any less important? Think of the Electrical Installation Condition Report as an MOT for your buildings electrical system and make sure it is done every 5 years.
Similarly, if someone is considering alterations or additions to their electrical installations, carrying out a test & inspection beforehand, especially if no previous records exist, can ultimately save time and money.