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Navigating electrical compliance

Navigating Electrical Compliance: Understanding the UK’s Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

As a business owner, I’m sure you understand the importance of providing safe premises for staff and visitors alike. One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to workplace safety is your electrical systems.

When these systems don’t function correctly or meet the UK standards, there is a high risk of danger and that’s not something you want on your head as a commercial property manager.

That’s why the UK Government requires all commercial premises to hold a commercial EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report). In this guide, I’ll explain what this certificate means and why it’s crucial for your business.

The UK’s Electricity At Work Regulations 1989 Explained

Let’s be honest, government legislation is never an interesting read. But it’s an important one nonetheless. As a responsible commercial property manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the safe operation of your building and the health and safety of your staff and any visitors.

While there are lots of laws to consider in relation to these points, the Electricity At Work Regulations are among some of the most critical.

This act, passed in 1989, relates to the use of electricity within a workplace. What’s interesting is that the responsibility of safety not only falls on the business owner but also on any employees they may hire.

However, employees cannot be expected to understand the legislation without training so, as part of the regulations, this is required for all employees. Where staff will be using electrical equipment, it is your responsibility to ensure that they have the correct knowledge, training, and experience before doing so.

Furthermore, the regulations talk about how your electrical systems should be installed and maintained. In a nutshell, you’re required to ensure that all electrical systems are installed correctly so that they do not pose a danger and that they are regularly checked and maintained (that’s where your EICR comes in but more on that later.)

In addition to this, if any of your electrical equipment is to be used in areas where a greater risk is posed, it should be manufactured and installed to withstand this. This may refer to equipment used in extreme temperatures or where it may be exposed to the elements.

What’s An EICR?

I’ve mentioned EICRs a couple of times now but what exactly are they?

In the simplest terms, an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is a series of checks that determine the health, quality, and safe operation of your electrical equipment. This report must be performed by a qualified electrician who can reliably spot any damage, faults, or other problems with your equipment.

While there is no set-in-stone period of time between EICRs, it is generally accepted that they should be conducted every five years. This helps you to keep in line with the safe operation of your electrical equipment as detailed in the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989.

Is An EICR A Legal Requirement?

Considering how serious electrical safety at work is, you might imagine that an EICR is required by law for commercial properties.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. While there are laws in place stating that landlords should have an up-to-date EICR, there’s no such law that affects commercial premises.

That said, without an EICR, it would be very difficult to stay on top of the health of your equipment and address any maintenance issues in a timely manner. For this reason, it is always recommended to ensure that you have an up-to-date EICR.

Why It’s So Important That Your Commercial Premises Has An Up To Date EICR

I can’t imagine that there is a business owner or manager on the planet who would want to face the ramifications of faulty electrical equipment. If for no other reason, a commercial EICR covers your back.

In the event of an accident, an up-to-date EICR shows that you have taken the necessary steps to ensure a safe workplace. After your EICR has been carried out, you can feel confident that your equipment is operating safely and this can prevent incidents such as fires, injuries, or, in the worst case, death.

A safe workplace is typically the most common reason for having an up-to-date EICR but it’s certainly not the only thing that motivates business owners.

Additionally, having a regular commercial EICR allows you to stay one step ahead when it comes to maintenance. Issues that are picked up early are much easier and more affordable to remedy. Not to mention that an unexpected electrical problem can result in a significant amount of downtime for your business.

While a commercial EICR is not a legal requirement, it does help you to comply with the Electricity At Work Regulations 1989. In order to ensure your business is operating within the confines of the law, an EICR is imperative. Not only this but in the event of an incident caused by faulty or substandard electrical equipment, the lack of an EICR means that you could be faced with legal issues.

Moreover, there are many insurance companies that expect businesses to have an up-to-date EICR otherwise your policy may be voided.

Final Thoughts

There are lots of things to consider when managing a commercial property but safety is up there with the most important. Taking the time every five years to arrange a commercial EICR will ensure that your business complies with UK regulations and that the safety of your staff and visitors will not be compromised.

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