Electrical testing under the spotlight

Faulty electrical installations and equipment are the second most common cause of fires in commercial and industrial buildings, so it is essential for any business to properly assess the risks they face and put the necessary controls in place to prevent accidents, fires and loss of life. Here are some of the key requirements to consider:

Legal requirements
The 1989 Electricity at Work (EAW) Regulations state that an electrical system shall at all times be constructed and maintained “so far as reasonably practical, to prevent danger.” This includes fixed electrical installations such as wiring and switchgear installed in a building and permanently fixed equipment including motors, compressors, heaters and lighting.

IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671:2008
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Wiring Regulations BS7671 and the supporting IETpublication Guidance Note 3: Inspection and Testing specify how frequently electrical equipment should be maintained and what records should be kept.

Periodic inspection and testing
Periodic inspection and testing is designed to provide an “engineering view” on whether an installation is in a satisfactory condition and can be used safely. This involves a detailed visual examination together with appropriate testing.

Based on IET recommendations, inspection intervals will normally range between one and five years, depending on the type of installation and occupancy, but can be required more frequently if an installation has suffered from neglect, or has been adversely affected by usage or environmental conditions.

Electrical Installation Condition Report
Following a periodic inspection and test, an Electrical Installation Condition Report is required. The report states whether an installation is suitable for continued use and assessment is deemed either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”.

If as installation is found to be “unsatisfactory”, remedial measures will be required, from immediate action and repairs if there is an immediate danger and risk of injury through to recommendations for non-urgent improvements.

Other electrical and testing protocols
The IET also recommend inspection and testing to assess compliance with BS 7671, on a change of occupancy or use of the premises, after alterations or additions to the original installation, if there has been any significant change in the electrical loading of the installation or if there is reason to believe that damage has been caused to the installation.

Routine checks
As well as formal periodic inspection and testing, the IET advocates that documented routine checks of the installation are carried out between inspections, often annually. These routine checks should be undertaken by someone who is able to safely use the installation and recognise defects. Thermographic testing – also known as thermal imaging – is a useful additional option to help identify electrical faults at an early stage.

Choosing an electrical contractor
It is important to choose an electrical contractor who is a member of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), the ECA of Scotland (SELECT) or other appropriate UKAS accredited organisations. Some insurers can also arrange electrical inspection and testing as part of their engineering inspection services.

How can C&M Insurance help?
Many insurers apply specific inspection and testing conditions as part of the insurance cover they offer businesses and it’s vital that you comply with these conditions in full to ensure your business is properly protected if something goes wrong.

The insurance professionals at C&M Insurance can help to check the small print of your policy to ensure you have the correct level of cover in place – or arrange appropriate cover on your behalf. This will help to ensure you are fully complying with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

Our independent advisors can also assist with any other commercial insurance requirements, including reviewing your cover at least annually to advise on any changes you may need.

To find out more about how we can help, call C&M on 01708 764 000