The key types of electrical testing to ensure your installations are compliant
Compliance – not everyone’s favourite topic, but an important one, nonetheless.
There’s a lot of complicated legislation, regulations and standards that your electrical system needs to adhere to, most of which you don’t need to know the ins and outs of.
In this article, we break down what you need to know about electrical compliance – what it is and why it’s so important for your organisation.
WHAT IS ELECTRICAL COMPLIANCE?
Electrical testing and inspection compliance is the process by which a qualified engineer conducts a thorough check of your electrical systems to confirm that all installations inside a building meet legislative standards. This covers circuits, appliances and all the other good stuff.
According to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, all electrical installations and equipment (including portable equipment), need to be maintained.
It’s important that organisations ensure that both new and old electrical installations are certified as safe and compliant with BS 7671:2018. Our team at Whitestar put the utmost care into each and every system we work on, keeping the safety of our clients at the forefront of our minds at all times.
What are my organisation’s responsibilities?
Employers are required to ensure that any wiring and electrical equipment is checked regularly by a qualified commercial electrical engineer.
This is best achieved through regular visual testing (to identify any obvious flaws in the system), and more detailed tests (these can be done slightly less regularly).
Electrical compliance can be complicated, so if you’re ever unsure whether you’re compliant or not, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our electrical experts who can advise further – don’t leave it to chance; failure to comply can result in hefty fines.
WHAT IS EICR?
An electrical installation condition report (EICR) is a type of electrical testing and inspection that closely examines a building’s electrical systems and wiring. This is done in order to ensure that everyone is safe while using the building.
Our qualified electricians carry out EICR testing in several stages:
- First, there is a visual assessment, where the electrician determines if there’s issues in obvious need of repair (these might be breaks, cracks or other evident signs of damage)
- Following this, the electrician will disconnect the electrical installations from the power supply in order to conduct ‘dead testing’ to determine which wires aren’t properly connected. They’ll also test the quality of the earthing and bonding and check failsafes to make sure that systems will disconnect within the time limit should a fault be detected
- Finally, your electrician will issue your EICR, which is proof of your electrical compliance
How often should you renew your EICR?
Depending on the property style, you need to carry out an EICR test roughly once every 5 years in order to retain compliance.
This doesn’t mean that you should neglect your electrical installations between reports!
We recommend consistent electrical checks to ensure the ongoing health of your electrical system. Small, regular checks and fixes are significantly more cost-effective than a one-off comprehensive check every five years (that will often turn up significant issues, trust us - it’s best to keep it regular!).
EMERGENCY LIGHT TESTING
Emergency lights are usually at the back of our minds…until there’s an emergency!
Current UK law demands that all occupied buildings need to be fitted with functional escape lighting for use in case of emergency (any situation where the main power supply is cut).
How often should I check my emergency lighting?
When looking to test your emergency lighting, it should always be done at a suitable time of day (usually in the evenings, or when the building is empty).
A monthly test should be held to ensure that everything’s working as expected (this can be a quick on/off job to make sure your lighting still functions).
Once a year you should hold a full rated duration test. Emergency lighting should provide at least 3 hours of illumination. Any less than that and they’re not meeting legislation. This means that mains power should be disconnected for at least three hours, and emergency lighting left on to ensure that it’s functioning properly.
We find that many businesses neglect to check their emergency lighting – we get it, it’s easy to forget! If you need any advice on emergency lighting best practices, have a chat with our team here at Whitestar. We work with organisations big and small to keep their people safe in the event of an emergency.
PORTABLE APPLIANCE TESTING (PAT)
PAT testing is one of the most common (and important) electrical tests, and is an essential part of any organisation’s health & safety measures.
Thorough PAT testing is key when ensuring that staff aren’t harmed by any electrical equipment in the building.
What is PAT testing?
Portable appliance testing is the process of checking portable electrical equipment (anything from laptops and phones, to hair dryers and microwaves) to ensure that they’re safe to be used at work or home.
It’s an employer’s duty to ensure that equipment required for work poses no threat to employees. While this isn’t a legal requirement, if it’s proved that you hadn’t been maintaining your electrical equipment after an accident, you could be held liable, so PAT testing is an important insurance step.
What equipment does PAT testing cover?
If we listed every single piece of equipment that PAT testing covered, then we’d be here all day, but in the average office environment, you might test:
- Desktop computers
- Vending machines
And much more.
A thorough PAT test will cover the plug, cable, appliance, mains sockets and other environmental surfaces (trip hazards, surface cracks, etc.)
Generally speaking, a defective item will be easily identified. Should the defect be a little more nuanced (faulty wiring, for example), then it can be harder to identify, which is why it’s important to partner with experts that you can trust.
PROFESSIONAL ELECTRICAL TESTING AND INSPECTION WITH WHITESTAR SOLUTIONS
The experienced electricians at Whitestar Solutions have nearly three decades of electrical experience. Our clients rely on us for a whole host of electrical services, be that bespoke testing or new installations, there’s nothing we can’t handle.
Whether you’re looking to implement upgrades to your existing electrical system, carry out tailored electrical testing and inspection, ensure your electrical compliance or carry out general maintenance, we can help.
Get in touch today to speak to one of our friendly specialists. We’re on hand to answer any questions you might have.