What is Fixed Wire Testing and how does it affect my business?

What is Fixed Wire Testing?

When managing a business, servicing your fixed electrics might not be at the top of your to-do list, but that doesn’t mean your electrical safety responsibilities can take a backseat. In fact, being without a certificate proving your fixed wire electrics meet safety standards could mean your business insurance is invalid and you might be forced to close your doors.

Is Fixed Wire Testing a legal requirement?

The Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) is clear that your fixed wiring must be properly maintained to protect employees and others from the risk of shocks, burns, and threats to life.

You also have a responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) to ‘ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety, and welfare at work of all employees.’ So, it’s important your fixed wire testing meets the safety requirements otherwise you jeopardise your employees’ safety and could face legal action, costly fines, or even closure as a result.

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What does Fixed Wire Testing involve?

A fixed wire test is designed to assess the condition of the electric wires that are fixed in your building, identify any deficiencies or hazards, and rectify them as soon as possible. Some examples of the electrical installations that would be checked during your fixed wire test include:

  • Hardwiring and connections
  • Distribution boards and switchboards
  • Fuses, circuit breakers and Residual Current Devices (RCDs)
  • Lighting
  • Socket outlets
  • Air conditioning
  • Fixed plant

A qualified engineer should check that your installations meet Fixed Wire Testing regulations and that your employees who operate electrically powered equipment or machinery are protected.

To keep your business in a strong position with its electrical safety, some of the key hazards that an engineer should look for include (but are not limited to):

  • Overloaded electrical circuits or equipment
  • Electric shock and fire hazards from installation faults
  • Defective DIY electrical work
  • Lack of earthing or bonding
  • Poor or defective wiring
  • Exposed live electrical parts

All of which could lead to potential fires, life-threatening injuries, and costly damage to your business if they’re not identified and managed properly.

How often should my Fixed Wire Testing be carried out?

As a fire and electrical safety compliance company, we receive this question quite often and the answer simply depends on your type of company, its electrical installations, what they’re used for, and the frequency of their maintenance. For example, a manufacturing business that uses heavy-duty machinery every day will need more frequent fixed wire tests compared to a high-street retail store.

The frequency and scheduling of your Fixed Wire Test should be managed by the ‘duty holder’ within your organisation but it’s important to remember that under Fixed Wire Testing law, you’ll be held accountable if it’s not carried out.

For the recommended frequency of your business’ Fixed Wire Test, refer to the table below.

Type of installationRoutine checkMaximum period between inspections and testing
General installation
Domestic accommodation - general-Change of occupancy/10 years
Domestic accommodation - rented houses and flats1 yearChange of occupancy/5 years
Residential accommodation - halls of residence1 yearChange of occupancy/5 years
Commercial1 yearChange of occupancy/5 years
Educational establishments6 months5 years
Industrial1 year3 years
Offices1 year5 years
Shops1 year5 years
Laboratories1 year5 years
Hospitals and medical clinics
General areas1 year5 years
Medical locations6 months1 year
Buildings open to the public
Cinemas1 year1-3 years
Church installations1 year5 years
Leisure complexes1 year3 years
Places of public entertainment1 year3 years
Restaurants and hotels1 year5 years
Theatres1 year3 years
Public houses1 year5 years
Village halls/community centre1 year5 years
Special and specific installations
Agricultural and horticultural1 year3 years
Caravans 1 year3 years
Caravan parks6 months1 year
Highway power suppliesas convenient6-8 years
Marinas4 months1 year
Fish farms4 months1 year
Swimming pools4 months1 year
Emergency lightingdaily/monthly3 years
Fire alarmsdaily/weekly1 year
Launderettesmonthly1 year
Petrol filling stations1 year1 year
Construction site installations3 months3 months

Source: EDIS.

Who can carry out Fixed Wire Testing?

This series of inspections can’t be conducted by just anybody. It requires a level of skill, extensive training, and key experience to get the job done properly and meet the required electrical safety standards.

Although you’re unable to carry out your own Fixed Wire Testing, you or the appointed person who is responsible for the maintenance and overall standard of your electrical work (also called ‘duty holder’) still holds the responsibility of sourcing a qualified and experienced engineer.

Looking for the right accredited engineer to work with your business is key to safeguarding your employees, troubleshooting any immediate issues, and it puts your mind at ease that your business is in safe hands.

If you want more information on what to look for when you’re searching for the perfect engineer partner, our fire and electrical safety professionals have outlined some of the most recognised, standout accreditations here.

Will Fixed Wire Tests cause any disruption to my business?

To prevent major disruption to your day-to-day business operations, you or the ‘duty holder’ should speak to the engineer beforehand to discuss what time and date works best for you so they can work around your schedule. To guarantee little to no disruption to your business, our multi-skilled engineers can be on-hand to carry out your Fixed Wire Testing and any other electrical services during their visit, so you don’t have to worry about:

  • Booking a separate team of engineers to carry out your PAT Testing or Electrical Vehicle Charging Point (EVCP) Servicing for example.
  • An increased risk of COVID transmission because you’ll be working with just one of our engineers.
  • Overheads as hiring one of our multi-skilled engineers can often be a more cost-effective solution than working with a team of different specialist engineers.
  • Disruption to your business because everything can be covered in one go.

How long does the Fixed Wire Test take?

As a basic process, Fixed Wire Testing can be a relatively quick visual check of your electrical installations, from source to outlet. However, the test’s scope can be broadened to cover additional measures that will protect your business and workforce in the long run. Along with your Fixed Wire Tests, your engineer might want to:

  • View your appraisals and risk assessments
  • Survey and conduct a system test (earthing, polarity and layout)
  • Review your documentation
  • Visually check accessible components
  • Look at labelling and circuit identification
  • Run a functions test of components
  • Thermographic test for defects or hot spots
  • Assess reporting, test results and action summary

Should equipment be labelled to show it has been tested?

As part of a well-managed maintenance programme, fixed wire components should be labelled, clearly identifying unique circuits. Evidence of faults or problems, together with remedial actions need to be reported. This process will help your organisation to maintain high standards of electrical safety with respect to all its Fixed Wire Testing requirements.

How Citation Fire & Electrical can help?

To support you through your Fixed Wire Testing, our multi-skilled engineers will carry out the testing for you and provide you with a digital Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) so you can continue to work safely and compliantly.

All of our engineers are fully qualified and regularly audited so you can rest assured you’ll receive a high-standard service every time.

For more information about how our highly qualified, multi-skilled engineers can support you with your business’ electrical safety testing needs, simply give us call a call on 0800 055 6559. Alternatively, you can fill out your details in the form above and we’ll be in touch.

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