Last Updated on 15 October 2020.
Whether you’re new to building management or just brushing up on some health and safety essentials for your commercial premises, this article will tell you everything you need to know about Fixed Wire Testing.
Key Topics Covered In This Article
What Is Fixed Wire Testing?
Fixed Wire Testing – otherwise known as ‘Hard Wired Testing’, ‘EICR’ (which stands for Electrical Installation Condition Report) or a ‘Periodic Inspection’ – is an essential part of your Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM), and essentially inspects your building’s electrical installation.
Fixed Wire Testing is not to be confused with Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing). PAT Testing is where your electrical appliances and equipment is maintained, as opposed to your electrical installation. Think of it as one tests the overall circuit and wiring integrity, the other tests the integrity of what you’re powering and plugging into that.
Why Would I Need Fixed Wire Testing?
There are three key reasons you need to have Fixed Wire Testing:
- To protect your people
- To comply with the law
- To meet insurance requirements
People don’t usually think of electricity as being dangerous. That kind of thinking’s usually associated with horror films like Frankenstein with a mad scientist harnessing the power of a lightning bolt, not in our everyday working lives.
But the truth is, it can be incredibly dangerous, and even fatal, if undetected faults, damage or wear-and-tear are left to fester. Because of this, it’s a legal requirement to maintain your electrical installation.
Fixed Wire Testing is the procedure you have carried out to maintain your electrical installation, so it’s not a legal requirement itself but if you don’t do it you’re not maintaining your electrical installation and are therefore not legally compliant. It’s a little confusing, but the long and short of it is: you need to do it.
What Are The Regulations And What Does HSE Recommend?
As an employer and/or building manager, you’re legally obliged to comply with a number of regulations designed to protect your building’s occupants from electrical-related injuries. (That’s employees, customers and visitors.)
These regulations are enforced by the HSE – that’s the Government’s Health & Safety Executive. The ones which talk about maintaining your electrical installation are:
This piece of legislation outlines your responsibilities and duties as an employer and employee to reduce health and safety risks.
Refer to this one for how best to assess and manage risks within the working environment.
This one’s pretty bleak but incredibly important because its primary aim is to help prevent death or injury from electrical causes, where maintenance is touched upon to help do this.
Last but not least, this regulation focuses quite heavily on the importance of maintaining systems and equipment saying they must be “in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair”.
In addition to the above, the British Standard BS 7671 (also known as the IET Wiring Regulations) specifies the acceptable standards of electrical installations for the design and installation. This is not something you ought to worry about too much as this is the responsibility of your trusted, accredited electrical contractor to make sure they stick to when they’re carrying out your electrical installation. Just look out for companies with the NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) logo (like us!) to make sure you’ve got electrical technicians who know what they’re doing to keep you safe and legally compliant.
What Happens During Fixed Wire Testing?
The main aims of your Fixed Wire Testing visit include:
- Confirming the integrity of your electrical installation
- Preserving the safety of individuals from electric shock or further harm such as smoke inhalation and burns caused by an electrical fire
- Protecting your premises from damage due to an electrical fire
- And identifying defects or inconsistencies with regulations and standards
Here, we’re looking at the electrical circuits which make up the fabric of the building, including socket outlets and lighting circuits.
Your periodic visit will uncover any safety risks which need addressing, establish if there’s been any damage or wear-and-tear, and reveal if any electrical circuits or equipment have been overloaded (which results in overheating). This is done using a mixture of visual inspections and electrical testing.
As this visit can be pretty invasive and can involve powering down your electricity, it’s best to have this visit done out-of-hours, during a holiday season or at a time when the building is at minimum capacity.
This should be carried out by a competent specialist who knows what they’re doing, what to look out for, carries the specialist equipment used for carrying out the tests, and can issue you with a certificate/report as evidence of your maintenance and due diligence. Your specialist (i.e. us!) will also be able to help you rectify any issues raised as a result of the visit.
(Sometimes, people have Thermal Testing done along with their Fixed Wire Testing. This is more advantageous for premature fault finding (whilst also being able to detect current problems) as it uses Infra-Red technology to identify heat patches which demonstrate overheating or overloading.)
Do You Get A Certificate For Fixed Wire Testing?
Yes, following your visit you’ll get a report (your EICR – Electrical Installation Condition Report), which is essentially the same as a certificate as it is your evidence to demonstrate you’ve had your Fixed Wire Testing, and therefore the maintenance of your electrical installation carried out.
The word ‘evidence’ is extremely important here because you need to keep your report in a safe place where you can easily access it should your insurance ask for proof you’ve had your electrical maintenance carried out. Without this evidence (even if you have had it done), and if someone experiences an electrical-related injury, you could find yourself open to prosecution.
Your report/certificate will also tell you if there’s anything you need to remedy, which, of course, we can help you with!
How Often Should Fixed Wire Testing Be Carried Out?
There’s no definitive answer here, as the nature of your building, the environment and the type of electrical installation you have will all determine this.
You’ll find, for instance, the maximum period between Fixed Wire Tests in an industrial environment is 3 years but regular retail shops only need to do it every 5 years. Consider each premises’ electrical use is going to be different; a cinema is likely to have a lot of heavy electrical needs to power up those huge screens but a small office with a few computers won’t draw as much.
But don’t think that just because your building is small and doesn’t pull that much electricity through, it’s safe. The wiring integrity of old buildings is often questionable, so if you can’t find any reports relating to your Fixed Wire Test, then you can’t prove it’s safe and it’s likely time you ought to get it inspected.
The table below is the BS 7671 IET Wiring Regulations 18th Edition (2018) which shows how often you ought to have Fixed Wire Testing according to the building type you have.
|Type of installation||Routine Check||Maximum period between inspections and testing as necessary|
|Domestic accommodation – general||–||Change of occupancy / 10 years|
|Domestic accomodation – rented houses and flats||1 year||Change of occupancy / 5 years|
|Residential accommodation (Houses of Multiple Occupation) – halls of residence, nurses accommodation, etc||1 year||Change of occupancy / 5 years|
|Educational establishments||6 months||5 years|
|Industrial||1 year||3 years|
|Commercial||1 year||Change of occupancy / 5 years|
|Offices||1 year||5 years|
|Shops||1 year||5 years|
|Laboratories||1 year||5 years|
|HOSPITALS AND CLINICS|
|Hospitals and medical clinics – general areas||1 year||5 years|
|Hospitals and medical clinics – medical locations||6 months||1 year|
|BUILDINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC|
|Cinemas||1 year||1-3 years|
|Church installations||1 year||5 years|
|Leisure complexes (excluding swimming pools)||1 year||3 years|
|Places of public entertainment||1 year||3 years|
|Restaurants and hotels||1 year||5 years|
|Theatres||1 year||3 years|
|Public houses||1 year||5 years|
|Villiage halls / Community centres||1 year||5 years|
|SPECIAL AND SPECIFIC INSTALLATIONS (FOR MEDICAL LOCATIONS SEE ABOVE)|
|Agricultural and horticultural||1 year||3 years|
|Swimming pools||4 months||1 year|
|Caravans||1 year||3 years|
|Caravan parks||6 months||1 year|
|Highway power supplies||as convenient||6-8 years|
|Marinas||4 months||1 year|
|Fish farms||4 months||1 year|
|Emergency lighting||daily / monthly||3 years|
|Fire alarms||daily / weekly||1 year|
|Petrol filling stations||1 year||1 year|
|Construction site installations||3 months||3 months|
Is Fixed Wire Testing A Legal Requirement For Commercial Landlords?
This is an interesting one! So, the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 stipulates that electrical equipment should be safe at the start of every tenancy, and maintained so it stays this way throughout the tenancy, but that doesn’t necessarily place the onus on the landlord to get Fixed Wire Testing and periodic inspections done.
To know who’s responsible in a commercial property, you’ve got to look at the lease or tenancy agreement, which should state what areas are looked after by the landlord and also by the tenant. More often than not, the landlord will take responsibility for communal areas, but this is usually covered in the agreement. Therefore, in the event that it’s the tenant it falls upon to carry out Fixed Wire Testing, then it’ll likely be your premises’ ‘Responsible Person’ (the person who looks after your health and safety) who would look organise your testing to be carried out by a competent third-party (i.e. us!).
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