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16 Dec 2022

EICR & the Law:

EICR & the Law:

As a business owner or site manager, it goes without saying that you want to stay on the right side of the law. EICR is one of the ways you can do that. But what exactly is the link between an electrical installation condition report (EICR) and the law? Read on as we take a closer look…

What is the law for EICR?

From employment and consumer laws to intellectual property and taxation, there are several laws that businesses have to abide by directly. However, EICR itself is not a law – nor is it covered by any specific law explicitly for businesses.

It is a legal requirement for landlords, who must obtain a report and carry out the necessary work on rented properties, at least every five years. But the case isn't as clear for businesses. Below, we'll review the situation for both, to put things into context from a business perspective.

Landlords – EICR law

All tenancies in England require a valid EICR. That's been the case since April 2021, according to The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. Local authorities can fine landlords up to £30,000 for an EICR breach.

Landlords must obtain an EICR report, supply a copy at the beginning of all tenancies and ensure it's kept valid with an inspection every five years – although shorter frequencies may be recommended by an electrician.

Why does this matter for businesses? For one, you may have heard that EICR law has changed due to the new rules for landlords. You might also assume that every five years is the recommended timeframe for businesses, much like domestic properties. We'll clear that up below…

Businesses – EICR law

Unlike the law for landlords, EICR is not an explicit legal obligation for businesses. In other words, landlords can be fined for not having a valid EICR. Businesses can't, but they can be fined for the negligence that demonstrates.

That's because it relates to two highly important laws – the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and Electricity at Work Regulations (1989).

These regulations outline your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for employees, including the proper maintenance of your electrical installation. For example, the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989) state:

“As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, such danger.”

Similarly, the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) states:

“so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer's control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health.”

Differences in EICR law for landlords and businesses

To avoid any confusion for businesses, it's important to note the following key differences from the law for landlords (which you might see a lot more online):

  • Five years is not the ‘standard' recommended frequency of inspections. It varies depending on the type of installation, frequency of usage and its surrounding environment. For instance, a place that's open to the public will typically require more frequent EICR testing.
  • Fines can be much bigger than £30,000 for businesses. Don't assume that the penalty is minor because you've read that it's up to £30,000. Your company could be fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for non-compliance with the legislation mentioned above.

Is EICR negligence against the law?

While EICR itself isn't explicitly required by law, it's a cornerstone of the proper electrical maintenance that is. As such, failing to keep up with the EICR recommendations from a qualified professional could demonstrate negligence on your part.

This kind of negligence can see you heavily fined, should any incidents occur on your site. As an example, a company in Leeds were fined £285,000 because of an employee fatality in 2014. They were found to have breached the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) by failing to identify a clear risk, which made them liable for the eventual crushing between two machines.

‘Negligence' can include failure to arrange an EICR within the timeframe recommended by a contractor. However, it may also include failing to take remedial action based on issues highlighted in an EICR report. These issues will be broken down into C1, C2, C3 and FI based on their urgency.

Immediate action is required for a C1 error, for example, so there could be an EICR law dispute if you allow staff to continue working before that action is taken. The same is true for C2, given that it deems your EICR unsatisfactory.

FI may also result in an unsatisfactory report until further investigation is arranged with your contractor. However, C3 issues are simply recommended – though it's in your best interest to get them sorted as they won't simply disappear.

How to stay on the right side of the law

If you want to avoid any complications with the law, the best course of action is to keep up to date with your EICR inspections and arrange the recommended remedial work promptly – remember:

  • C1 – Immediate remedial action required
  • C2 – Urgent remedial action required
  • C3 – Action recommended to improve safety
  • FI – Further investigation is required without delay (your EICR may still be unsatisfactory until that takes place)

As part of the process, a qualified, competent electrical contractor will recommend the right frequency between inspections based on the type of installation, its usage and the surrounding environment.

Equipped with this knowledge, you'll know exactly how to keep your electrical installation well-maintained – and keep your company compliant.

Arrange an EICR today

Arranging an EICR is the first step towards compliance, in line with the two laws discussed above. If your business is based in Leeds or the surrounding areas, Volta Compliance is on hand to help. Our electrical experts can perform a full inspection of your electrical installation, highlight any issues, and even provide the necessary repairs.

Sound good? Give us a call on 0113 397 1361 or email info@voltacompliance.com.

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