Fixed Electrical Testing (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is fixed electrical testing?
Fixed electrical testing is used to ensure the safety and compliance of electrical installations in accordance with UK health and safety law. It involves the testing and inspection of all electrical wiring and systems between the incoming electrical supply and final circuits within a building.
Also referred to as periodic inspection and testing, testing of electrical installations should be carried out on a sufficiently frequent basis to manage the risk of deterioration and resulting dangers. Electrical installations inevitability deteriorate, through use, damage, wear and tear and environmental influences. Fixed electrical testing will help to identify potential and existing defects for correction.
In addition to compliance with the legislation, fixed electrical testing can also be used as an opportunity to identify ways to improve efficiency and cost savings in energy usage.
Is fixed electrical testing a legal requirement?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty on all employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare at work of all their employees.
Fixed electrical testing is used to meet health and safety duties under law imposed on employers, landlords and other duty holders.
The Electricity at Work regulations 1989 for example impose duties on “employers” and “duty holders” in respect to electrical systems, electrical equipment and conductors. They must comply with the provisions of the regulations by ensuring all systems are maintained to prevent, so far as reasonably practicable, danger in the workplace.
Further guidance notes and requirements are detailed for fixed electrical testing are found in:
- British Standard BS7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations, IET Wiring Regulations
- IET Inspection & Testing Guidance Note 3
- HSE Electricity at Work – Safe working Practices
- HSE memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Effective fixed electrical testing on a sufficiently regular basis by a competent electrical engineer can ensure compliance with the legal duties.
How often should fixed electrical wiring be tested?
Understanding when electrical testing needs to be carried out is critical to ensuring compliance with the legal duties.
The frequency of fixed electrical testing is determined by the type of premises in question. Offices for example are required to have testing every 3 years as a minimum, whereas swimming pools must retest sooner by working to annual testing.
Current recommendations, working on the basis of the maximum time between periodic inspections, are as follows:
- Construction site/temporary installations – every 3 months
- Launderettes – 1 year
- Swimming pools – 1 year
- Leisure complexes – 3 years
- Industrial premises – 3 years
- Places of public entertainment and theatres – 3 years
- Commercial premises – 5 years
- Hotels – 5 years
- Public Houses – 5 years
- Shops – 5 years
- Offices – 5 years
- Community centres/village halls – 5 years
- Churches – 5 years
- Educational premises – 5 years
- Residential – 5 years or at change of occupancy
- Domestic – 10 years or at change of occupancy
What certification should you get after fixed testing?
On completion of a fixed electrical test, you will be issued with an Electrical Condition Report (EICR).
The EICR is a record of the inspection and testing results, to confirm the electrical installation is safe to be used.
This will identify any damage, wear and tear or defective electrical work or potential electric shock risks and fire hazards; if any electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded; or any lack of earthing or bonding. In such instances, the installation will be deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ and remedial work required without delay.
Are PAT testing and fixed wire testing different?
PAT testing and fixed wire testing are completely different. They involve different processes, equipment and skills.
PAT Testing (Portable Appliance Testing) relates to individual, movable electrical appliances. These could include the office printer, hotel hairdryers or electric tools in a car repair centre.The frequency of testing will depend on a number of factors, and should see a combination of visual and equipment testing to receive a pass or fail.
Fixed wire testing however relates to the testing and inspection of electrical wiring and systems between the incoming electrical supply and final circuits within a building.
By law, fixed wire testing must be carried out by a suitably qualified engineer. PAT testing is to be conducted by suitably qualified or competent person.
Do you need help with PAT testing?
Emelec are highly experienced in conducting fixed electrical testing and inspections in environments as varied as large-scale industrial, hotel chains, schools, retail outlets and leisure and entertainment centres and residential properties.
We can help with your fixed wire testing needs, carrying out the full testing and inspection requirement and advising on your maintenance programme to ensure compliance with the law.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute direct advice.