Fixed electrical wiring
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UK electrical wiring regulations

What do the 2018 changes mean for property owners and commercial landlords?

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    Technical bulletin

    During 2017/18, there were 38,321 accidental property fires in England over a 12-month period according to UK Government statistics, with half of those fires caused by electrical faults/misuse(1). Property owners and commercial landlords are directly   esponsible, and legally accountable, for the prevention of electrical safety issues.

    In July 2018, the 18th edition of the UK  Wiring Regulations were released.  Changes to the Regulations   are often  made to ensure electrical work and  installations remain compliant, safe,  and reflect the latest   developments in  electrical technology. The Institution  of Engineering and Technology (IET)  co-publishes the electrical Wiring  Regulations alongside the British  Standards Institute (BSI), and is the  authority on electrical installation.

    BS 7671 of the IET Wiring Regulations  sets the standards which apply to the  design, erection and   verification of  electrical installations, as well as  additions and alterations to existing  installations, in the UK and many  other countries.

    It is important that property owners and  commercial landlords have an adequate  level of understanding and awareness  of the changes to these electrical  regulations in order to remain compliant.

    By following the guidance and regulations of BS 7671, property owners and commercial landlords can ensure that wiring systems meet the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

    Following the release of the 18th edition  of BS 7671, there is a transition period in  which property   owners and commercial  landlords can get up to speed before the  new electrical Regulations come into  effect. BS 7671 is not retrospective, so  the changes are aimed at new  installations designed after 1 January  2019 which must comply with the  requirements.

    Key regulatory changes relevant to property owners and commercial landlords

    There are a number of key changes within the 18th edition which are relevant to owners/commercial landlords/facilities managers  including the following:
    • Protection against overvoltage: property owners/commercial landlords should consider installing surge protection devices on their installations to protect against transient overvoltages from lightning strikes or switching surges. The new regulations make clear that transient overvoltage protection must be provided where the overvoltage could result in serious injury or loss  of life, interruption to public services  or industrial and commercial activities, damage to cultural heritage, or a large number of individuals at the same location being affected.
    • RCD protection: RCDs can no longer be excluded by risk assessment and are now required on lighting circuits (domestic), on all socket outlets with ratings up to and including 32A, and must be manually tested every six months.
    • Arc fault detection devices: these are devices that automatically trip a circuit when they detect dangerous electric arcs. Installation of these devices are advised to mitigate the risk of fire.
    • Euroclass cable ratings: all cables used in buildings must have a Euroclass rating. This is to prevent heat, smoke, flame spread, etc. Simply put, use the right class of cable type  in the right location.
    • Wiring support: all wiring systems must be supported (e.g. steel tray, trunking, etc.) to protect systems against premature collapse during  fire. Previously, this only applied to escape routes.
    • Embedded electric heating (e.g. surface heating in car parks, floors, ceilings and drainpipes): these systems must have protection against overheating and an earthed protective shield (e.g. metal mesh grid) in areas susceptible to damage.

    Third party inspections can play an essential role in reducing fire risks to electrical systems.

    The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) state they regard installations that conform to the standards set out in BS 7671:2018 as likely to achieve conformity with the relevant parts of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

    Part 6 of BS 7671 is fully dedicated to the routine inspection and testing of the  installation by a 'Competent Person'.

    The UK Health & Safety Executive defines a 'Competent Person' as "someone who has the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health and safety".

    Depending on the particular legislation, the Competent Person can be either an individual or the body which employs the individual to provide inspection services.

    The 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act defines a 'Competent Person' "where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size or hazards (or both of them) of the undertaking or establishment in which he or she undertakes work, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken".

    Inspection Services

    Our network of competent, multi-skilled Engineer Surveyors can help customers to mitigate wiring risks and achieve regulatory compliance via our fixed wiring electrical inspection services.

    As well as assisting property owners, commercial landlords and facilities managers, our engineering inspection services extend to include quarry wiring inspections, public area licences, HV wiring (visual inspection only), and petroleum wiring inspections.

    The Home Office: Fire statistics data tables, as at 12 September 2018 (