Fixed wiring in-service electrical inspections

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Fixed Wiring
Electrical Inspection

Fixed wiring in-service electrical inspections, why they are necessary and how they can
benefit your business.

Helping you to understand your responsibilities
Electrical Test Midlands – sharing technical expertise
It’s a near certainty that your business uses electrical power in
some way. Therefore, in order to manage risks and comply with
the law, your fixed wiring needs to be inspected regularly. Meeting
this requirement effectively, and ensuring that the benefits
outweigh the costs, requires you to be familiar with the concept of
fixed wiring inspection, and to know what approach to take.
Bear in mind, according to the HSE’s website (www.hse.gov.uk/
electricity), about 1,000 people per year have an electrical
accident and about 25 of those are fatal.
Definitions
The independent safety inspection industry tends to categories
electrical equipment and systems as follows:
• PAT – Portable Appliance Testing – for items like kettles.
• Plant – for items such as motors, welding equipment, fans and
air conditioning units
• Fixed wiring – all the equipment required to distribute electrical
power safely from the origin to all the plant, equipment and
appliances at the relevant site. Fixed wiring includes conductors
(e.g. cables and cords), connections (e.g. distribution boards),
switching devices, protective devices (e.g. fuses, circuit breakers
and residual current devices – RCDs), enclosures and, where
applicable, fire barriers.
Fixed wiring’s broad definition means that its inspection can
encompass little or much. At its simplest, the inspection is a
non-intrusive visual check of accessible components such as
distribution boards, sockets, cables, cords and light fittings.
At its most thorough, it could comprise the following:
? An appraisal of the job, featuring:
• Job-specific risk assessment
• Survey and testing of the installation’s earthing,
continuity, insulation, polarity, layout and
accessibility arrangements
• Enquiries to determine the degree to which parts
of the system can be isolated
• Review of available documentation
? Visual check of all accessible components
? Labelling, i.e. unique identification of circuits
? Functional tests to check whether all the relevant
components do what they are supposed to do
? Thermographic testing to quickly detect hidden defects as
‘hot-spots’ in the system
? Clear reporting – publishing circuit diagrams, all test
results and a summary of any defects with actions
recommended to make safe.

• Your electrical plant, appliances and fixed wiring should be
inspected routinely
• The law is goal-setting and requires the inspection (and
maintenance) regime to be suitable and sufficient: i.e. risk-based
• Use of risk-based inspection (RBI) techniques is recommended
to determine the scope and frequency of inspection and the
optimisation of costs.

Electrical Test Midlands sharing technical expertise

A balance always has to be struck between inspection and
maintenance. Too little inspection/repair, and the risk will be too
great; too much inspection/repair and the cost will be too great.
Of course, the more preventative your maintenance, the lower
the reliance on in-service inspection and repair to control risks
in the first place. You will need to strike a balance between
inspection and maintenance (repair) activities that you are
comfortable with.
Another important consideration is whether you use the same
inspectors for maintenance or perform maintenance independently.
You will also need to choose whether to subcontract or go
in-house, the depth and frequency of the inspection (and
maintenance); and the degree of detail in the inspection reports.
You may simply wish to add electrical inspection to whatever
in-service inspection arrangements you have for other items,
such as your lifting equipment.
Deciding on the depth and frequency of inspection, and the
detail of reports, may be more difficult. The decision needs to be
based on a potentially complex interaction between inspection
activities, maintenance activities, production requirements, and
stakeholder expectations.
In our view: if you are not already doing so, you should make use
of risk-based inspection (RBI) techniques to determine the approach
that you take for the in-service inspection and maintenance of your
fixed wiring.
You should not be too daunted by the thought of applying RBI. The
rigour applied to the RBI assessment should be commensurate with
the scale of the electrical risk at your premises and it might not take
too much effort to complete.
Generally, the benefits of RBI outweigh the cost. RBI delivers a
specification for an inspection and maintenance regime that is
suitable and sufficient and optimises the risk-control-per-unit cost.
A suite of test methods and required outcomes are specified in
detail in the British Standard BS 7671: 2008, often referred to as
the IEE Wiring Regulations. In fact, the requirements of this
standard are not regulations in the legal sense.
The frequency and scope of your in-service fixed wiring
inspections should always be determined by an assessment
of the risks.
BS 7671: 2008 does provide guidance on both frequency and scope
of inspection for low voltage installations (less than 1,000V a.c.
or 1,500V d.c.), based on criteria like the type of premises:
e.g. ‘Three-yearly for a factory and five-yearly for offices.’
Note: this British Standard does not cover the public electricity
supply, electricity on vehicles, nor fixed wiring in quarries, mines
and other hazardous areas (where there is an explosion risk).

Electrical test midlands – sharing technical expertise
Repairs and conflict of interest
Regarding repairs, the in-service inspection contractor may be
prohibited from undertaking repairs. For example, Etm is a electrical compliance company.

The risks and benefits

A few mA of electrical current can be fatal and the
mains voltage (230V a.c.) should always be considered
potentially fatal.
The principal hazard associated with fixed wiring is electric shock.
However, other hazards should be considered, including burns,
arcing (which can damage the eyes) and ignition – setting fires or
creating explosions if flammable/explosive materials are present.
What is at stake, of course, is the health and safety of people and
significant financial and business losses. So the benefits are clear:
control the risk to control the cost.

The law

The law says that all employers must safeguard the health and
safety of all people affected by their undertaking and, in the UK,
it is a criminal offence to fail in this duty of care.
Fundamentally, employers are required to assess the risks associated
with their business and manage those risks at a tolerably low level.
More specifically, employers are required to comply with applicable
regulations; often a large number of them.
For fixed wiring, the specific regulations are the Electricity at Work
Regulations, 1989 (EAW). The HSE has issued a very useful
document, which is freely available to download from their
website, entitled ‘Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity
at Work Regulations, 1989.’
You will note that this guidance is non-prescriptive,
in keeping with the goal-setting format of the
regulations, which means that maintenance is a
statutory requirement, but the scope and frequency
of maintenance and inspection should be risk-based:
i.e. suitable and sufficient.
In spelling-out the requirements of the EAW regulations, the
HSE guidance makes it clear that fixed wiring shall be maintained
so as to prevent danger (so far as is reasonably practicable) and
that regular in-service inspection is an ‘essential’ part of
preventative maintenance.
For prescription, you can turn to the British Standard mentioned
above (BS 7671: 2008). Remember: This British Standard is
comprised of non-statutory regulations.

Electrical test midlands – sharing technical expertise
Repairs and conflict of interest
Regarding repairs, the in-service inspection contractor may be
prohibited from undertaking repairs. For example, Etm is a electrical compliance company.
The risks and benefits
A few mA of electrical current can be fatal and the
mains voltage (230V a.c.) should always be considered
potentially fatal.
The principal hazard associated with fixed wiring is electric shock.
However, other hazards should be considered, including burns,
arcing (which can damage the eyes) and ignition – setting fires or
creating explosions if flammable/explosive materials are present.
What is at stake, of course, is the health and safety of people and
significant financial and business losses. So the benefits are clear:
control the risk to control the cost.
The law
The law says that all employers must safeguard the health and
safety of all people affected by their undertaking and, in the UK,
it is a criminal offence to fail in this duty of care.
Fundamentally, employers are required to assess the risks associated
with their business and manage those risks at a tolerably low level.
More specifically, employers are required to comply with applicable
regulations; often a large number of them.
For fixed wiring, the specific regulations are the Electricity at Work
Regulations, 1989 (EAW). The HSE has issued a very useful
document, which is freely available to download from their
website, entitled ‘Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity
at Work Regulations, 1989.’
You will note that this guidance is non-prescriptive,
in keeping with the goal-setting format of the
regulations, which means that maintenance is a
statutory requirement, but the scope and frequency
of maintenance and inspection should be risk-based:
i.e. suitable and sufficient.
In spelling-out the requirements of the EAW regulations, the
HSE guidance makes it clear that fixed wiring shall be maintained
so as to prevent danger (so far as is reasonably practicable) and
that regular in-service inspection is an ‘essential’ part of
preventative maintenance.
For prescription, you can turn to the British Standard mentioned
above (BS 7671: 2008). Remember: This British Standard is
comprised of non-statutory regulations.

Fixed Wire Testing Observations

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Fixed Wire Testing Observations
Observations could be things which are wrong with your installation that need rectifying and they are coded.

Fixed Wire Testing is a legal requirement and it is governed by the IET Wiring Regulations Seventeenth Edition also referred to as BS 7671. Electrical Test Midlands (ETM) will supply you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report on completion of testing. This test will indicate any problems or observations, these are coded, but what do they mean?

Got a question about Fixed Wire Testing?

Speak to our friendly team on 01922 710014

Observations could be things which are wrong with your installation that need rectifying and they are coded. A list of these can be found on page two of your Fixed Wiring Report otherwise known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The observations or defects are coded according to their danger level, the codes are C1, C2, C3 and FI.
A Code 1 (C1) observation means ‘Danger present. Risk of injury. Immediate remedial action required.’ It is an immediate threat and should be rectified or made safe as soon as possible. An example of a C1 defect would be accessible live conductors due to damage, poorly modified enclosures or removed maintenance panels. Incorrect polarity would also attract a code C1 as it may allow conductive parts, not normally expected to be live, to become live.
The presence of a code C1 warrants immediate action to be taken which would be to inform the duty holder or responsible person for the installation immediately, both verbally and in writing, of the risk of injury that exists.
A Code 2 (C2) is a potentially dangerous defect, these might be things that don’t pose an immediate threat but are likely to become a danger in the future. A C2 is described as ‘Potentially dangerous – urgent remedial action required.’
The phrase “potentially dangerous”, in the C2 code is designed to point towards a risk of injury from contact with live parts after a sequence of events. A sequence of events could mean that an individual may gain access to live parts through a day to day task that would not be expected to give access to live parts.
An observation code FI is described as ‘Further investigation required without delay.’ This means that your electrical contractor has observed something whilst carrying out the testing for instance emergency lights seem very dim. This might not have been covered in the report so they have noted it separately as code FI.
Codes C1 and C2 attract unsatisfactory report findings and you’ll have to have these defects rectified in order to prove compliance. A report could also be classed as unsatisfactory if the only fault codes are FI. An example would be when there are lots of circuits that are not verified at the time of testing, this is because the inspector would not be able to categorically say that these circuits are safe or not.

Code 3 is described as ‘Improvement recommended.’ This means it does not comply with the regulations but isn’t actually dangerous. A code C3 should imply that the installation is not necessarily dangerous but it may not comply with the current version of the regulations or for example, may have damaged fittings that do not have exposed live parts. A code C3, in itself, should not warrant an overall unsatisfactory report.
You will need to address C1, C2 and FI faults on your report in order to achieve compliance. However it’s always good practice and usually well worthwhile considering rectifying all faults on site. Remember you aren’t obliged to use the same electrical contractor to test and to carry out repairs. For greater piece of mind you can also use someone else to fix the defects, also bear in mind that you don’t need to have the whole installation re tested after the repairs have been completed. Once faults have been rectified and your electrician has issued you with the relevant paperwork, Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) or Minor Works Certificate (MW) these should be kept together with the EICR to prove all faults have been rectified in accordance with BS7671.
Electrical Test Midlands will issue you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). If the unthinkable happens and someone receives a shock from part of your installation or if there is an electrical fire in your building then a court, inquest or insurance company will want to refer to the Fixed Wire Testing report which makes this document very important.
Electrical Test Midlands specialize in providing tailored electrical testing solutions in PAT Testing, Fixed Wire Testing and Thermal Imaging.

If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment then call 01922 710014 or email admin@electricaltestmidlands.com

Electrical safety

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electrical testing

The laws which relate to electrical safety
are detailed in the Electricity at Work
Regulations 1989 and Electrical
Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
which require assessment of risks related
to electricity.

YOUR LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Systems that are installed in buildings
must be safe and regularly maintained.
Electrical installations and repairs to
electrical equipment must be performed
by a qualified electrician.
People working with electrical systems
and equipment should be competent for
the task, meaning that they have
suitable training and knowledge to
ensure that injuries to themselves and
others are prevented.
You should ensure regular testing of all
electrical equipment to prevent the risk
of electrocution or fire.
You should ensure that adaptors do not
overload socket outlets.
People working in the space that you are
managing must be educated about the
proper use of electrical appliances and
be made aware of the dangers and risks
of unsafe operation of appliances.
Documented procedures are vital to
promote safer working conditions and
more responsible use of electrical
equipment.
You should regularly check all electrical
equipment for signs of wear and tear,
damage and faults.

HOW TO DECREASE ELECTRICAL
SAFETY RISKS
You should perform and record tests of
electrical installation, distribution, cables
and circuits every 5 years.
You should perform risk assessments of
High Voltage Power Equipment on an
annual basis.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should
be conducted every 1-3 years.
PAT AND FIXED WIRE TESTING
Under the Electricity at Work Regulations
1989, electrical fixed installations must be
tested and inspected regularly. PAT
stands for Portable Appliance Testing
and is designed to test the safety of
electrical equipment using a special
device. However, PAT includes visual
inspection to flag up any issues that
might not be detected by the PAT
device.
The frequency of tests should be
determined by the frequency of use and
the environment for use. There is no legal
requirement to do so, but recording the
PAT times and dates as well as labelling
items that have passed is best practice.
Fixed Wire testing involves checking the
electrical systems that are designed to
conduct electricity around a building,
which includes hard wiring, main panels,
distribution boards, lighting, air
conditioning, fixed plant and socket
outlets. This is required by the Electricity at
Work Act 1989. Tests should be
conducted at least every 5 years.

Electrical Installation Condition Report

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What work is completed during an Electrical Installation Condition Report?

An Electrical Installation Condition Report is an in-depth inspection and test of the existing electrical installation and is reported on a form that complies with the current wiring regulations, BS7671:2008 as amended in 2011.

The first part of the inspection is to visually inspect all the accessible electrical accessories like socket outlets, switches, etc. 10% of these items will be inspected internally by opening them up to expose the wiring and terminals to establish if there is anything to suggest poor installation or quality of wiring.
All electrical equipment is then inspected for the presence of bonding conductors, the correct type and location of switchgear and that the installation is being used correctly.
Once the inspection phase has been completed, a detailed test of each circuit is carried out to determine that the safety measures that have been put in place will operate correctly if an electrical fault ever occurs. This includes determining that the earth fault path is effective enough to result in automatic disconnection of the electric supply in the event of a fault, that the wiring is in good condition and that the residual current device (RCD) operates quickly enough to avoid any danger to colleagues, customers and members of the public.
Unlike others, we then use a thermal imaging camera for the areas we can and can’t see to capture hot spots on distribution boards or switch gear, to identify any areas which are overloaded and weak points which could cause breakdown or even fire in some cases.

Electrical Installation Condition Report from Electrical Test Midlands is the answer!
Once we’ve completed the inspection and testing of all the above, you’ll get a Electrical Installation Condition Report. Our report will identify any deficiencies in your electrical set-up against the national safety standard for electrical installations. This report can then be used to confirm you have complied with all regulations and it can be kept for any Health and Safety audits.