Quality trumps cost when it comes to electrical compliance, says Ian Carnall
Electrical compliance is a legal duty, as specified within the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EaWR). But many dutyholders try to deal with it as quickly and cheaply as possible, leading to a box-ticking, corner-cutting attitude to compliance.
It is reprehensible that cost-saving is prioritised over quality and safety in a bid to find the cheapest way to achieve electrical compliance. This has led to a decline in reporting standards.
There is a dearth of data regarding what constitutes a safe place of work, how to manage electrical reports and how to evidence the continuous monitoring and maintenance of electrical installations. This information is vital to provide a dutyholder with a defence in law should there be a breach of the EaWR.
“There are gaping holes in basic legislative knowledge”
Indeed Regulation 4 (1) & (2) of EaWR 1989 states: “As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems, shall at all times be of such construction, so as not to give rise to danger:
- All systems – from a battery to a power station;
- All times – no days off, no respite; and
- Construction – designed, installed, maintained and operated.
The regulation is difficult to comply with, however, paragraph 69 of EaWR 1989 advises dutyholders to keep maintenance records, including test results for the life of an electrical system to ensure compliance. The IET Wiring Regulations BS7671: 2018 Reg 652.2 also demands record-keeping.
EaWR 1989 calls for an effective monitoring policy that proves maintenance – not just a series of arbitrary tests at the mercy of a contractor who knows how to ‘complete’ electrical reports.
The EaWR memorandum of guidance and the current edition of BS7671 provide a basis for formulating a methodology to meet compliance. But there are gaping holes in basic legislative knowledge and quality of test records, leaving dutyholders exposed should there be an incident leading to a breach of EaWR 1989.
Ian Carnall is managing director at Guardian Electrical Compliance Ltd