Every electrical installation deteriorates with use and time. Therefore, if the safety of the users is not to be put at risk, it is important that every installation is periodically inspected and tested by a competent person.

 

Indeed, it is recommended in BS 7671: 2008 as amended (Regulation 135.1) that every electrical installation is subjected to periodic inspection and testing.

 

The primary legislation relating to EICRs is derived from -

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • HSE safety standards HSG85: Electricity at Work: Safe Working Practices
  • The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
  • Part P of the Building Regulations (England & Wales) 2005)
  • The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671 2006) - 17th edition enacted July 2015
  • The Electrical Safety Council Guidance Notes
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

 

 

The inspection and testing should be carried out at appropriate intervals in order to determine what, if anything, needs to be done to maintain the installation in a safe and serviceable condition. The results of the inspection and testing need to be clearly detailed in a report. Any observed damage, deterioration, defects, dangerous conditions and non-compliances with the requirements of the current edition of BS 7671 that may give rise to danger should be recorded and appropriately classified for remedial action.

 

It is important for RPs to note that, as stated in the introduction to BS 7671, existing installations that have been constructed in accordance with earlier editions of the Standard may not comply with the current edition in every respect, but this does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe for continued use or require upgrading. An electrical installation condition report is, as its title indicates, a report and not a certificate. It provides an assessment of the in-service condition of an electrical installation against the requirements of the edition of BS 7671 current at the time of the inspection, irrespective of the age of the installation.

 

 

The report is primarily for the benefit of the person ordering the work and of persons subsequently involved in additional or remedial work, or further inspections. The report may be required for one or more of a variety of reasons, each of which may impose particular requirements or limitations on the inspection and testing.

 

The report is required to include details of the extent of the installation and of any limitations of the inspection and testing, including the reasons for any such limitations and the name of the person with whom those limitations were agreed. It should be noted that the greater the limitations applying, the lesser is the scope of the inspection and testing carried out, and hence the value of the report is correspondingly diminished. The report is also required to include a record of the inspection and the results of testing.

 

The report provides a formal declaration that, within the agreed and stated limitations, the details recorded, including the observations and recommendations, and the completed schedules of inspection and test results, give an accurate assessment of the condition of the electrical installation at the time it was inspected.

 

The main purpose of periodic inspection and testing is to detect so far as is reasonably practicable, and to report on, any factors impairing or likely to impair the safety of an electrical installation. The aspects to be covered include all of the following:

  • Safety of persons against the effects of electric shock and burns
  • Protection against damage to property by fire and heat arising from an installation defect
  • Confirmation that the installation is not damaged or deteriorated so as to impair safety
  • Identification of non-compliances with the current  (17th) edition of BS 7671, or installation defects, which may give rise to danger.

 

 

The EICR inspection

 

All persons carrying out the inspection and testing of electrical installations must be competent to do so. To be competent to undertake the periodic inspection and testing of an existing electrical installation, persons must as a minimum:

Have sufficient knowledge and experience of electrical installation matters to avoid injury to themselves and others

Be familiar with, and understand, the requirements of the current (17th) edition of BS 7671 including those relating to inspection, testing and reporting

Be skilled in the safe application of the appropriate test instruments and procedures

Have a sound knowledge of the particular type of installation to be inspected and tested

Have sufficient information about the function and construction of the installation

 

If the inspector is competent and takes all the necessary safety precautions including following the correct procedures, the process of inspecting and testing should not create danger to persons, or cause damage to property. Past events indicate that persons undertaking electrical installation condition reporting need to have extensive knowledge and experience of electrical installation matters to enable them to safely and accurately assess the condition of an existing electrical installation. This is especially so when they do not have access to the design or maintenance information relating to that installation.

 

The procedures for periodic inspection and testing differ in some respects from those for the initial verification of new installation work. This is because the subject of an electrical installation condition report is usually an installation which has been energised and in use for some time. Particular attention therefore needs to be given during the inspection process to assessing the condition of the installation in respect of:

 

  • Safety
  • Wear and tear
  • Corrosion
  • Damage and deterioration
  • Excessive loading
  • Age
  • External influences
  • Suitability (taking account of any changes)

 

 

Also, for reasons beyond the inspector’s control, the inspector may be unable to gain access to parts of the existing installation. For example, it is usually impracticable to inspect cables that have been concealed within the fabric of the building. Such restrictions are likely to result in the inspection and testing of those parts of the installation being limited, or being omitted entirely from the process.

 

Where, during the course of inspection or testing, a real and immediate danger is found to be present in an installation (from an accessible exposed live part, for example), immediate action will be necessary to make it safe before continuing.

 

However, the discovery of the dangerous condition should still be recorded in the report and classified accordingly.

Inspectors should note that, even in domestic premises, Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 effectively require them to endeavour to make safe, before leaving site and with the agreement of the user or owner, any dangerous conditions found in an installation. For example, where there are accessible live parts due to blanks missing from a consumer unit, suitable temporary barriers should be provided to protect persons from direct contact with those live parts.

 

As persons using the installation are at risk, it is not sufficient simply to draw attention to the danger when submitting the electrical installation condition report. At the very least, the inspector must ensure that the client is made aware, at the time of discovery, of the danger that exists. An agreement should be made with the client as to the appropriate action to be taken to remove the source of danger (for example, by switching off and isolating the affected part of the installation until remedied), before continuing with the inspection or testing.

 

The periodic inspection and testing procedures should identify any damage, deterioration, defects and conditions within the installation that give rise, or potentially give rise, to danger. The procedures should also identify any deficiencies for which remedial action would contribute to a significant improvement in the safety of the electrical installation.

 

 

Observations

 

After due consideration, each such observed safety issue should be recorded at the appropriate point in the inspection or test results schedule, and further detailed in the ‘observations’ section of the report. The observations should be based on the requirements of the edition of BS 7671 current at the time of the inspection, (currently 17th edition) not on the requirements of an earlier edition current at the time the installation was constructed.

 

Each observation should be written in a clear, accurate and concise manner that is likely to be understood by the person ordering the work. Technical terms should be avoided or explained unless it is known that the recipient is an electrical engineer or electrician, for example.

 

An electrical installation condition report is intended to be a factual report on the condition of an installation, not a proposal for remedial work. Therefore, each recorded observation should describe a specific defect, omission or item for which improvement is recommended.

 

The observation should detail what the situation is, and not what is considered necessary to put it right. For example, ‘excessive damage to the consumer unit enclosure’ would be appropriate, whereas only observations that can be supported by one or more regulations in the edition of BS 7671 current at the time of the periodic inspection should be recorded.

 

The particular regulation number(s) need not be entered in the report (unless specifically required by the client), but should serve to remind the inspector that it is only compliance with BS 7671 that is to be considered.

 

Observations based solely on personal preference or ‘custom and practice’ should not be included.

 

Classification codes

 

Each observation relating to a concern about the safety of the installation should be attributed an appropriate Classification Code selected from the standard codes C1, C2 and C3. Each code has a particular meaning:

Code C1 ‘Danger present’. Risk of injury. Immediate remedial action required.

Code C2 ‘Potentially dangerous’. Urgent remedial action required

Code C3 ‘Improvement recommended’.

 

Only one of the standard Classification Codes should be attributed to each observation. If more than one

Classification Code could be attributed to an observation, only the most serious one should be used (Code C1 being the most serious).

 

Where the inspection and testing procedures identify an item which is dangerous or potentially dangerous, it should be identified in the inspection or test results schedule of the report by attributing to it a Classification Code C1 or C2, as appropriate, in the ‘outcome’ column of the inspection schedule or, where provided, the ‘remarks’ column of the test schedule.

 

Where the inspection and testing procedures identify an item which is not dangerous or potentially dangerous, but for which improvement is recommended, it should be identified in the inspection or test results schedule of the report by attributing to it a Classification Code C3 in the ‘outcome’ column of the inspection schedule or, where provided, the ‘remarks’ column of the test schedule.

 

Where during inspection and testing a real and immediate danger is observed that puts the safety of those using the installation at risk, Classification Code C1 (danger present) must be given.

 

In general terms, the Classification Codes should be used as follows -

2.33 Where a Classification Code C1 is considered appropriate, the client is to be advised immediately, and also in writing, that immediate remedial action is required (or has been taken) to remove the danger. As previously indicated, this action is necessary to satisfy the duties imposed on the inspector and other duty holders by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. Wherever an item in the inspection or test results schedule has been attributed a Classification Code C1, C2 or C3, there should be a corresponding observation in the ‘observations’ section of the report.

 

Code C1 (Danger present). This code should be used to indicate that danger exists, requiring immediate remedial action. The persons using the installation are at immediate risk. The person ordering the report should be advised to take action without delay to remedy the observed deficiency in the installation, or to take other appropriate action (such as switching off and isolating the affected parts of the installation) to remove the danger. The inspector should not wait for the full report to be issued before giving this advice.

 

C2 (Potentially dangerous). This code should be used to indicate that, whilst an observed deficiency is not considered to be dangerous at the time of the periodic inspection, it would become a real and immediate danger if a fault or other foreseeable event was to occur in the installation or connected equipment. The person ordering the report should be advised that, whilst the safety of those using the installation may not be at immediate risk, remedial action should be taken as a matter of urgency to remove the source of potential danger.

 

Code C3 (Improvement recommended). This code should be used to indicate that, whilst an observed deficiency is not considered to be a source of immediate or potential danger, improvement would contribute to a significant enhancement of the safety of the electrical installation.

 

If an observation cannot be attributed a Classification Code due to reasonable doubt as to whether danger or potential danger exists; the outcome of the assessment must be reported to be unsatisfactory. The person ordering the report should be advised that the inspection and/or testing has revealed a potential safety issue which could not, due to the agreed extent or limitations of the inspection, be fully determined, and that the issue should be investigated as soon as possible.

 

Summary of the condition of the installation

 

The summary should adequately describe the general condition of the installation in terms of electrical safety, taking into account the specific observations made. It is essential to provide a clear summary of the condition of the installation having considered, for example:

 

The adequacy of the earthing and bonding arrangements

The suitability of the consumer unit and other control equipment

The type(s) of wiring system, and its condition

The serviceability of equipment, including accessories

The presence of adequate identification and notices

The extent of any wear and tear, damage or other deterioration

Changes in use of the premises that have led to, or might lead to, deficiencies in the installation.

 

Minimal descriptions such as ‘poor’, and superficial statements such as ‘recommend a rewire’, are considered unacceptable, as they do not indicate the true condition of an installation. It will often be necessary or appropriate to explain the implications of an electrical installation condition report in a covering letter, for the benefit of recipients who require additional advice and guidance about their installation.

 

For example, where an installation has deteriorated or been damaged to such an extent that its safe serviceable life can reasonably be considered to be at an end, a recommendation for renewal should be made in a covering letter, giving adequate supporting reasons. Reference to the covering letter should be made in the report.

 

On the model electrical installation condition report given in BS 7671, a box is provided for the overall assessment of the condition of the installation to be given. After due consideration, the overall condition of the installation should be given as either ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.

 

If any observation in the report has been given a Code C1 or Code C2 classification as categorised in this Guide, or if any observations require further investigation to determine whether danger or potential danger exists, the overall assessment of the condition of the installation must be reported to be ‘unsatisfactory’.

 

If there are no observations in the report classified as C1 or C2, or that require further investigation, it would not be reasonable to report the overall condition of the installation as unsatisfactory.

 

The recommended interval until the next inspection should be made conditional upon all observations that have been given a Classification Code C1 (danger present) being remedied immediately and all observations that have been given a Code C2 (potentially dangerous) or that require further investigation being remedied or investigated respectively as a matter of urgency.

 

Where the space provided for the description of the general condition of the installation is inadequate for the purpose and it is necessary to continue the description on an additional page(s), the page number(s) of the additional page(s) should be recorded.

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