Electrical Safety

Electricity, we all know how much we depend on it in modern life now and especially within the workplace. Without it we wouldn’t have lighting, heating, security systems, power for equipment, computers and processes and for making those all important transactions when a sale is made.

How often then do you consider how electrically safe your business is? When was the last time your electrical circuit was tested under a Periodic Electrical Inspection? When was the last time your portable tools and equipment underwent a Portable Appliance Test (PAT)? When did you last visually inspect your cables and plug sockets before pressing the “on” switch? Do you frequently use extension leads?

Electricity can and does kill especially if electrical items are faulty or are misused. Therefore it is important that as a business you ensure that your electrical equipment undergoes statutory inspections by a competent person and that these are recorded.

An electrical installation condition report or Periodic Inspection is an inspection on the condition of an existing electrical installation, to identify (in order of priority) any deficiencies against the national safety standard for electrical installations. Every electrical installation deteriorates with use and age and it is critical to maintain these installations to ensure that the safety of users is not put at risk and that installations remain in a safe and serviceable condition.

So how often do you have to undertake a Periodic Inspection? This depends on the premise type. It is recommended that electrical installation condition reports or Periodic Inspection and testing is carried out at least every –

  • 5 years for commercial properties. This can either consist of a 100% inspection every 5 years or broken down to a rolling programme of 20% inspections every year. Using the latter method ensures that the installation is checked once a year for faults.

  • 10 years for domestic properties

A competent, experienced and trained Electrician will check the electrical installation against the requirements of BS 7671 – Requirements for Electrical Installations ( IEE Wiring Regulations ) – as amended, which is the national safety standard for electrical installations and will produce an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which records the findings of the periodic inspection.

The purpose of a EICR is to report on the safety condition of an existing installation. It should describe the overall condition as either ‘satisfactory’, in which case no immediate remedial work is required, or ‘unsatisfactory’ which means remedial work is required to make the installation safe to use.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

There are no legal or statutory frequencies for how often portable electrical appliances have to undergo a PAT. However, it is generally good safety practice to undertake PAT of your applicable items on an annual basis (or 3 monthly on construction sites) and this can be undertaken by a competent person with the relevant training and experience.

With businesses that we work with we recommend that all their employees are given information, instruction and training on the safe use of electrical equipment and to ensure that they carry out a visual inspection of all electrical equipment prior to use to ensure that all cables, leads and plugs are intact with no torn casings or exposed wires.


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