Maintaining a safe and healthy work environment is a top priority for employers, and electrical safety plays a crucial role in that.
Although the risk of electric shock is well known, other potential hazards, such as skin burns and fire risks, are often overlooked.
To prevent these hazards, it is essential to conduct Fixed Wire Testing as part of your planned preventive maintenance strategy.
This type of testing is also known by other names, such as:
- Electrical Testing
- Periodic Inspection & Testing
- EICR Testing
- EICR Report
- Electrical Installation Condition Reporting
- Hardwire Testing
This testing aims to thoroughly examine all electrical system parts to detect potential or current faults.
What Is Fixed Wire Testing?
Fixed Wire Testing, also known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) or Periodic Inspection, is a crucial part of your planned maintenance program.
The Fixed Wire Test is a total evaluation of an existing electrical installation, and its purpose is to ensure the safety and proper functioning of the electrical system. Moreover, it is a mandatory process designed to guarantee that all electrical installations in buildings are safe to use.
The regulations for fixed wire testing are outlined in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, which state that electrical systems and equipment must be maintained appropriately, and a competent individual must perform the maintenance.
It is important to note that Fixed Wire Testing and the Electrical Installation Condition Report are two distinct elements. The former is the procedure, and the latter is the result of the procedure.
The Fixed Wire Testing thoroughly examines your electrical installation, including the wiring and circuit systems, to detect any potential hazards. It aims to identify any electrical defects that could pose a risk to individuals using the building and to prevent accidents, such as fires, from occurring.
A qualified electrician typically carries out the testing, which includes various checks such as earth continuity tests, insulation resistance tests, and polarity tests.
These tests examine the condition of the electrical wiring and components within a building, including lighting, power, and control circuits.
Any electrical faults or defects discovered during the testing process must be promptly repaired to ensure the electrical installation is safe.
It is important to distinguish Fixed Wire Testing from Portable Appliance Testing (PAT).
While Fixed Wire Testing examines the overall electrical installation, PAT Testing focuses on maintaining electrical appliances and equipment plugged into the installation.
In simpler terms, Fixed Wire Testing assesses the circuit and wiring integrity, while PAT Testing assesses the integrity of the devices powered by the electrical installation.
Fixed Wire Testing Procedure
The Fixed Wire Test is a comprehensive evaluation of an existing electrical installation, carried out for the purpose of ensuring the safety and proper functioning of the electrical system.
During the test, the inspection focuses on examining various components of the electrical circuits in the building, including hardwiring, distribution boards, switchboards, fuses, circuit breakers, RCDs, air conditioning, lighting socket outlets, and more.
The objective of the test is to identify potential safety risks, damages, or defects and to determine if the electrical circuits or equipment have been overloaded. The test helps in ensuring that the electrical system is functioning properly and meets all safety requirements, thereby providing a safe and secure environment.
Identify Risks and Resolve Issues
The testing process begins with a visual inspection of the equipment to see if anything is clearly in need of repair or replacement. The qualified electrician will isolate and lock off the electrical circuit or equipment from the mains power supply and perform a series of inspections and electrical tests, such as dead testing and live electrical testing.
The live electrical testing is especially important as it checks if the components are in good working condition and can disconnect within the required time limit in case of a fault. The test should be carried out by a competent specialist who is equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge and who can issue a certificate/report as evidence of the maintenance.
In the event of any issues being identified, the specialist will also be able to assist in rectifying them. Overall, the Fixed Wire Test is essential to maintaining the electrical safety and proper functioning of your building.
Who Can Carry Out A Fixed Wire Test?
A competent and qualified electrician must carry out a fixed wire test. This individual must have the necessary training and experience to understand the correct procedures and be able to identify any potential dangers.
In the UK, various organisations offer certification and training for electricians, such as the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA).
To be deemed competent and qualified, an electrician must hold a recognised certification from one of these organisations such as –
- City & Guilds 2360 Parts 1 & 2
- City & Guilds 2391/2394 and 2395 combined
- British Standard 7671 18th edition
Verifying the registration of the electrician conducting the Fixed Wire Test with a reputable organization is critical in ensuring the accuracy and high standard execution of the EICR. This gives you peace of mind that the electrical installation in your building underwent a thorough inspection and that any potential hazards have been recognized and addressed.
Is Fixed Wire Testing A Legal Requirement?
As an employer or building manager, you are legally required to meet specific regulations to prevent electrical-related injuries to occupants such as employees, customers, and visitors.
These regulations are monitored by the government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
Key regulations include:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 outlines the responsibilities and duties of employers and employees to minimise health and safety risks, which involves ensuring that all electrical equipment and installations are safe to use.
- The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 outlines the best practices for assessing and managing risks in the workplace.
- The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 has the primary goal of preventing death or injury caused by electricity, and maintenance is touched upon to achieve this goal.
- The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 emphasises the importance of maintaining systems and equipment, stating they must be “in good repair, efficient and in working order.”
Additionally, the British Standard BS 7671 (also known as the IET Wiring Regulations) specifies the standards of electrical installations for design and installation, which is the responsibility of an accredited electrical contractor to adhere to.
To ensure you have qualified electrical technicians and comply with these regulations, look for companies with the NICEIC logo.
Who Is Responsible For Fixed Wire Testing?
As a business owner or landlord, you have a legal obligation to ensure your employees’ and tenants’ safety and well-being.
This includes ensuring all electrical installations in the building are safe to use and free from potential hazards.
To fulfil this responsibility, you must have an EICR conducted by a qualified engineer.
Before letting a property, landlords are required by law to have an EICR carried out to ensure that it is safe for future tenants.
Once a registered engineer has performed the EICR, it is their responsibility to identify any hazards and report them to you.
If any issues are found, it is your responsibility as the owner or landlord to arrange for necessary repairs to be made on time.
In conclusion, as a business owner or landlord, it is important to understand your legal obligation to maintain a safe electrical environment for your employees and tenants.
By arranging for an EICR to be conducted by a qualified engineer, you can fulfil your legal duty of care and ensure that your building is a safe place to work or live.
How Often Should Fixed Wire Be Tested?
There’s yet to be a final answer here, as it all depends on the type of building, the environment and the type of electrical installation.
For example, Offices, Schools And Care Homes would need less frequent testing – once every five years. However, a higher risk environment would be every three years, as an industrial unit with heavy machinery.
Above all, regular fixed wire testing could prevent future problems by significantly reducing the risk of harm if an incident happens.
Fixed Wire Testing Frequency Table
The table below is from the BS 7671 IET Wiring Regulations 18th Edition (2018). It represents how often you should have Fixed Wire Testing according to your building type.
|Type of Installation
|Domestic Accommodation – General
|Change Of Occupancy Or 10 Years
|Domestic Accommodation –
Rented Houses And Flats
|Change Of Occupancy Or 5 Years
|Residential Accommodation (Houses of
Multiple Occupation) – Halls Of Residence,
Nurses’ accommodation, etc.
|Change Of Occupancy Or 5 Years
|Change Of Occupancy Or 5 Years
Hospitals And Clinics
|Type of Installation
|Hospitals And Medical Clinics –
|Hospitals And Medical Clinics –
Buildings Open To The Public
|Type of Installation
(Excluding Swimming Pools)
|Places Of Public Entertainment
|Restaurants And Hotels
|Village Halls/Community Centres
Special And Specific Installations
|Type of Installation
|Agricultural & Horticultural
|Highway Power Supplies
|Construction Site Installations
Do You Get A Certificate For Fixed Wire Testing?
Upon completion of the Fixed Wire Testing, you will receive an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) certificate from your electrical contractor. This certificate will outline any issues or observations that have been identified during the testing process and will be coded based on the level of risk they pose.
It is important to keep this report in a secure and accessible place as your insurance provider may request it.
Failure to produce this evidence, even if the maintenance was carried out, can lead to prosecution if an electrical-related injury occurs.
What Does An EICR Report Show?
Upon completing the testing, your electrical contractor will present you with an EICR that lists any issues or observations that they have coded according to the level of risk they pose. The report provides an assessment of the installation’s safety and compliance with current regulations, including the IET Wiring Regulations.
The EICR report typically includes the following information:
- Identification of the electrical installation and the building or premises it is in.
- Details of the electrical testing process that was carried out, including the date, equipment used, and the qualifications of the person who conducted the test.
- A description of any defects, issues, or areas of non-compliance found during the testing.
- A categorization of the issues found, with a code assigned to each issue based on its level of risk.
- Recommendations for any necessary repairs or improvements that need to be made to the electrical installation.
- A conclusion and overall assessment of the condition of the electrical installation and its compliance with current regulations.
The EICR report serves as a record of the electrical installation’s condition and provides valuable information for building owners, landlords, and electrical contractors.
What Do The EICR Observation Codes Mean?
Any queries about the electrical installation will be listed as ‘observations’ on the report. Observation codes C1, C2, C3 and FI are given to items based on the risk levels.
However, what exactly do these codes signify?
A Code 1 observation signifies a dangerous situation that poses a risk of harm and requires immediate attention. This code highlights a current threat to the safety of people on the premises, and it must be addressed without delay. An instance of a Code 1 defect is exposed live wires resulting from damage, enclosures that have been poorly modified, or missing panels for maintenance. In addition, incorrect polarity that can cause parts not meant to be live to become so will also be considered a Code 1 issue.
In the event of a Code 1 observation, your electrical contractor will notify the person in charge of the installation verbally and in writing about the potential danger. They may even disconnect access to the faulty circuit or shut it down until the problem is resolved to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
A Code 2 (C2) is a warning that there is a potential risk to safety, which requires prompt attention. Although not as severe as Code 1 (C1), a C2 defect can lead to harm if left unattended. The fault is considered “potentially dangerous” and requires urgent remedial action.
Examples of C2 issues include missing equipment covers, faulty switchgear, and damaged insulation. Your electrical contractor will immediately notify the person responsible for the installation and provide written documentation of the potential hazard and suggested solutions for rectifying the problem.
Code 3 is labelled as “Suggested Improvement.” This code indicates non-hazardous non-compliance with the latest regulations. It may be due to outdated regulations or damaged fixtures that don’t have live parts exposed. A Code 3 observation, by itself, should not result in an unsatisfactory overall report.
The final code is FI, meaning “Further investigation required immediately.” This occurs when the person conducting the electrical inspection spots something that needs to be in compliance with the BS 7671 regulations, such as an unverified circuit. This code requires immediate attention and could potentially result in an unsatisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) if a significant number of circuits are unverified.
Unsatisfactory EICR Report
An EICR is considered unsatisfactory when there are Code 1 (C1) and Code 2 (C2) observations, indicating a danger to the safety and requiring immediate rectification.
Additionally, if there are many observations with “Further Investigation” (FI) codes, the report may also be considered unsatisfactory as it cannot be determined if the electrical installation is safe.
To comply with electrical safety regulations, all C1, C2, and FI faults must be addressed. While it’s always recommended to rectify all defects, it’s not necessary to use the same electrical contractor for testing and repairs.
Once repairs have been made, a certificate should be obtained for the changed elements, but it is not necessary to have the entire installation re-tested.
Who Regulates The Fixed Wire Test Procedure?
The IET Wiring Regulations oversee the Fixed Wire Testing process, with the latest edition, BS 7671 18th Edition, becoming effective on January 1, 2019.
Is EICR the same as fixed wire testing?
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), also referred to as fixed wire testing or an electrical inspection, entails the examination and testing of electrical components such as light fittings, fuse boxes, and plug sockets. When it comes to distinguishing an EICR from Fixed Wire Testing, the reality is that there’s no distinction.
Is fixed wire testing a legal requirement?
Although it’s not a direct legal mandate, having an up-to-date EICR shows your adherence to the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and Electricity at Work Regulations (1989), ensuring the safety of your premises for employees, customers, and other visitors.
How long does a fixed wire test take?
The duration of a fixed wire test can vary depending on the size and complexity of the electrical installation being examined. In a typical residential setting or a small business, the testing process may take a few hours to half a day. However, for larger and more complex installations, such as industrial facilities or large commercial buildings, the testing can take several days or even longer to complete.
How often should fixed wire testing be done?
Fixed wire testing frequency varies by property type:
- Commercial/Industrial: Every 5 years
- Residential: Every 10 years (or 5 for rentals)
- Special Environments: May be more frequent
- Change of Ownership/Tenancy: Recommended
- After Alterations: Advisable Compliance with local regulations is crucial.
Electrical Services At Varlowe
Varlowe offers a comprehensive industrial electrical service across the country.
Our electricians, who have years of experience, are based in the West Midlands and provide a high-quality service.
Whether it’s maintenance to prevent issues or complete factory electrical installations, we will collaborate with you to find the best solutions to meet your needs.
To learn more, contact us at 01902 861042 or email us at email@example.com.