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Don’t start the new year with a bang…

Lee Johnson, Managing Director of Advanced Electrical Services explains...

 

This January marks the 15-year anniversary of part P, which for those of you who don’t know is the part of the building regulations that apply to electrical installations in domestic properties.

For me it’s a memorable time: the introduction of part P meant that electrical works on homes needed to be registered with building control and, as such, all the works legally needed to be tested and certified accordingly, as part of this process.

Now the testing and inspection part was nothing new as the wiring regulations have stated for a long, long time that electrical works need to be tested prior to being put into service. What was new was that electrical contractors and electricians were legally required to do it.

This brings me to my point: I can remember reading articles in trade magazines 10 years ago from so-called electricians claiming to have been in the industry for tens of years yet never having tested their work, let alone certifying it. They even continued to say that no one had ever been hurt (as far as they knew!), so what was the point of testing and certification? Their claim was that it was a waste of time and just more needless paperwork to put on poor electricians, who have better things to do.

Claiming that testing and certifying electrical work is a waste of time is complete rubbish – and dangerous. The best electrical installation in the world, installed by the finest electrical engineer, using the very best products, might still not be safe.

An installation can only be safely put into service once it has been inspected and tested as per the requirements of the wiring regulations. It should then be certified to record the inspection and test results, which then need to be reviewed by a competent person.

Now the main point of certification for business owners and managers is to ensure that your electrical installations are safe for your employees to use. You have a responsibility under the Electricity at Work Regulations to do so and your insurance company is likely to request condition reports for your electrical installation – this is basically like an MOT for your fixed-wiring installation.

It is vital that any electrical work carried out on your behalf is electrically tested and certified. The information then needs to be stored and filed away (in previous editions of Wired we have included articles on this – see the News section of our website for the archive). This not only applies to work carried out by third-party contractors but also by your in-house electricians.

It surprises me how many of our customers’ electricians don’t test their own work because they feel they don’t need to. They absolutely do – and this doesn’t just include installation work, it also includes repairs such as replacing light fittings etc. You can’t prove that an electrical circuit is safe to use unless it has been tested and this applies to everybody.

Over the years, we’ve been to quite a few factories that haven’t been earthed, which can lead to a fire breaking out or a staff member receiving a nasty or even fatal electric shock. At one local site, the earth connection was corroded and had to be made good; a different contractor had carried out some work at this site the month before but hadn’t picked up on this potentially dangerous situation.

We also regularly come across circuits with an unsatisfactory earth loop impedance when we’re testing electrical equipment. This means that the circuit protection won’t operate quickly enough when needed and this can be one of the main causes of electrical fires. This is something that really should have been picked up by another contractor, prior to the circuit being put into service.

If you currently don’t have any electrical records it is important to start working on them as soon as you can. As always, we’re here to help in any way you need us to.

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