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What is Fixed Wire Testing?
You may hear Fixed Testing referred to as the following:
- Electrical Installation Condition Reporting
- Periodic Inspection and Testing
- Fixed Wire Testing
- Hard Wire Testing
- Test & Inspection
- Fixed Testing
- Periodic Testing
- Electrical Testing
What is Fixed Wire Inspection & Testing?
Fixed Testing involves testing the electrical installations and systems that conduct electricity around the building. It covers all of the electrical wiring in a building and includes main panels, distribution boards, lighting, socket outlets, air conditioning and other fixed plant. Once the electrical installation has been tested and verified as safe, an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is issued.
What is involved in testing a Fixed Electrical Installation?
Specialist fixed wire testing engineers employed to complete the fixed wire testing should initially aim to correctly identify all circuits in an installation by looking at a combination of circuit labelling and previous test information and by carrying out circuit tracing where necessary, prior to commencing testing.
The engineer will then conduct a visual and physical assessment of the electrical installation using specially designed testing equipment. In order to complete fixed wire testing safely and effectively, electrical circuits will need to be disconnected briefly during testing.
Guidance Note 3 of the IEE Wiring Regulations states:
"Where diagrams, charts or tables are not available, a degree of exploratory work may be necessary so that inspection and testing can be carried out safely and effectively. A survey may be necessary to identify switchgear, controlgear, and the circuits they control."
Minimising workplace disruption
Fixed Electrical Testing inevitably causes some disruption on the site due to the requirements for disconnecting electrical circuits at various times during the testing. For this reason, careful planning and time management is essential in order to identify potential challenges and ways to minimise these. In practice, fixed wire testing is often best performed outside of normal working hours.
Guidance Note 3 states:
"Periodic tests should be made in such a way as to minimise disturbance of the installation and inconvenience to the user. Where it is necessary to disconnect part or whole of the installation in order to carry out a test, the disconnection should be made at a time agreed with the user and for the minimum period needed to carry out the test. Where more than one test necessitates a disconnection where possible they should be made during one disconnection period.
A careful check should be made of the type of equipment on site so that the necessary precautions can be taken, where conditions require, to disconnect or short-out electronic and other equipment which may be damaged by testing."
The results and extent of fixed testing should be recorded on an Electrical Installation Condition Report and provided to the person who ordered the inspection, usually the Duty Holder. The report must include the extent of the work, limitations, details of defects and dangerous conditions, and schedules of inspections and test results.
Immediately dangerous conditions should be rectified or reported without delay to the relevant duty holder. Other recommendations and observations should be reported using standard observation codes to indicate the severity of each observation.
EICR and observation reports can be provided and stored in any format (printed or digital) and many contractors now offer online document access as part of the service, providing easy access to the client.
The frequency of periodic inspection and testing must be determined taking into account:
- the type of installation
- its use and operation
- the frequency and quality of maintenance
- the external influences to which it is subjected
The table below provides guidance on the frequency of formal inspections of electrical installations as well as routine checks. (Table extracted from BS7671 IET Wiring Regulations 18th Edition: 2018).
|Type of Installation||Routine check||Maximum period between|
inspections and testing
|Domestic accommodation -|
Domestic accommodation -
rented houses and flats
|change of occupancy/10 years|
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 -|
Hospitals and medical clinics -
Buildings open to the public
|Cinemas||1 year||1-3 years|
|Church installations||1 year||5 years|
(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|
|Village halls/Community centres||1 year||5 years|
Special and specific installations
|Agricultural and horticultural||1 year||3 years|
|Swimming pools||4 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|
Fixed Wire Testing - Legal Requirements
Fixed wire testing involves testing the electrical installations within a building to ensure they are safe. Employers are legally required to comply with a number of workplace safety regulations which are designed to protect the health and safety of employees and visitors.
These laws, detailed below, are enforced by the Heath & Safety Executive (HSE).
- Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is a government department which aims to prevent electrical injuries by enforcing health and safety law and by promoting good practice in the design, use and maintenance of electrical systems.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health & Safety at Work Act puts the duty of care upon both the employer and the employee "to ensure the health, safety and wellfare of all persons at work and in protecting persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work". This includes the self employed.
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999: Risk Assessment
"(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:
(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking."
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989: Regulation systems, work activities and protective equipment
"(1) All systems shall at all times be of such construction as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, danger.
(2) As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger.
(3) Every work activity, including operation, use and maintenance of a system and work near a system, shall be carried out in such a manner as not to give rise, so far as is reasonably practicable, to danger.
(4) Any equipment provided under these Regulations for the purpose of protecting persons at work on or near electrical equipment shall be suitable for the use for which it is provided, be maintained in a condition suitable for that use, and be properly used."
The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations) 1992
The Workplace Regulations are broad and Regulation 5 also places an emphasis on maintenance of systems and equipment
"5 (1) The workplace and the equipment, devices and systems to which this regulation applies shall be maintained (including cleaned as appropriate) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
(2) Where appropriate, the equipment, devices and systems to which this regulation applies shall be subject to a suitable system of maintenance."
Scope of the legislation
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 apply to all electrical equipment used in, or associated with, places of work. The scope extends from distribution systems down to the smallest piece of electrical equipment.
It is clear that there is a requirement to inspect and test all types of electrical equipment in all work situations in order to keep the employer and employee safe.
In addition to the above legislative requirements some or all of the following types of organisations may also require that an electrical inspection and test programme is implemented:
- Insurance Companies
- Mortgage Lenders
- Licensing Authorities
- Public Bodies
Inspection Reports (EICR)
Following the completion of any periodic electrical inspection and test programme the client should be provided with a full and detailed Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for the works carried out.
The report should include details of the following aspects on the inspection and test:
- Details of the client and installation
- Extent and limitations of the inspection
- Supply characteristics and particulars of the installation
- Schedule of items inspected and tested
- Schedules of circuit details and test results
- Summary of the inspection and test
- Observations and recommendations for actions to be taken
- Signed declaration by the contractor
In practice reports are usually provided using official numbered NICEIC certificates or in a similar format using one of the bespoke software packages available. The NICEIC format is the most widely recognised and may be a requirement for certain insurance companies or legislative organisations.
Electrical Installation Condition Reports should be retained for the lifetime of the installation and should be made available by the client to any contractor who carries out the inspection and test in the future.
Learn more about Fixed Wire Test Reports and understanding observation codes.