In this blog post, Richard Parry, operations manager for compliance, takes us through everything you need to know about the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for commercial installations and looks at the process needed in order to achieve compliance.
What is an EICR?
The EICR is a full and detailed report of the condition of the electrical wiring installations in a building. It is carried out in order to evaluate and maintain a building’s safety.
Formerly known as a periodic inspection or fixed wire test, the EICR provides the building owner/occupier with details on where installations may have been damaged or deteriorated over time.
In the report, faults and non-compliance issues are coded depending on their severity. C1 represents immediate danger, C2 highlights a potentially dangerous condition and C3 is where safety improvements are recommended in order to meet current regulations. In addition, the code F1 can be attributed when the inspection reveals an apparent deficiency that could not – due to the limitations or extent of the inspection – be fully identified.
If an installation is deemed ‘unsatisfactory,’ i.e. when C1, C2 and F1 issues are present, then remedial action needs to be taken to prevent the risk of fire or injury.
Why do I need to have one?
As an employer, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that all electrical systems are in a safe condition and comply with current regulations. These have changed twice in the last five years, so it’s important to keep up to date.
As most electrical installations suffer from deterioration or damage throughout their operational life, a regular programme of electrical maintenance will help prevent defects and accidents, which may lead to a loss of productivity further down the line.
In order to prove you are not negligent in this area, some insurance companies will insist you provide them with compliance certification. The certification report is issued once an installation is deemed ‘satisfactory’, i.e. when all C1, C2 and F1 issues are resolved.
How often does it need to be carried out?
The period between inspections depends on the type of premises and specific risk assessments – for example, it’s advisable to carry out inspections before and after major building or equipment alterations, where changes to the electrical systems are made, or when a business takes over a building from previous tenants.
Sounds like a huge undertaking?
For facilities or property managers looking after multi-site businesses, electrical compliance can take up a great deal of time. However, working with a single contractor experienced in planning and implementing a nationwide programme of electrical maintenance can simplify the process. Dealing with one point of contact will make the communication process much easier.
Where do I start?
Firstly, take a look at when your properties were last inspected. Locate all of the previous certification reports and make a list, prioritising the properties most in need of attention. Then, work with a qualified* contractor to survey your sites, building up a picture of the financial commitment needed in order to achieve compliance.
Once a budget and timescale is agreed, the contractor will schedule a programme of testing that minimises disruption and electrical ‘down time’. It’s a good idea at this point to let employees know what is happening and when.
*Only contractors accredited by the NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) are authorised to issue the certification, so make sure you ask for evidence of their accreditation.
What happens during the testing process?
Fully qualified engineers will perform a series of tests for each property. A visual inspection first identifies any obviously broken devices or ones installed in the wrong locations. With the use of test meters, the engineer will then perform a series of tests with the electrical system live and offline.
For defects not visible to the naked eye and where the electrical system cannot be fully powered down, the engineer will also use a thermal imaging camera to help identify problems in the circuitry.
When do I get my certification?
Once testing is complete, a comprehensive report is issued. If the engineer has used a laptop to prepare the report, it can be issued immediately after the testing is completed. The report will detail the extent and results of the inspection, and list any urgent repairs or remedial action necessary in order to achieve compliance. Ask your contractor to keep copies of all the test reports completed, so that you have a secure and central archive for all your sites.
What about remedial work?
Ask your contractor to quote for the remedial work identified on the report. Make sure the engineer is qualified to carry out the repairs. For safety reasons, faults in the C1 category will need to be corrected as soon as possible. Depending on the condition of the installation, the engineer should be able to carry out minor repairs the same day as the test.
If you look after a multi-site business and need help with electrical compliance, let us manage your programme of electrical testing. For details, call 0800 9175 721 or visit our website.
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