The importance of registration for electrical inspection and testing

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  Posted by: electime      4th October 2022

Governments across the United Kingdom have been increasing their efforts in recent years to improve electrical safety standards in dwellings. The significance of inspecting and testing electrical installations in homes is clear, given that taking England alone, there were 12,851 accidental electrical fires in 2021/22.

Regulations have been introduced UK wide, with Scotland introducing legislation for mandatory electrical safety checks in the Private Rented Sector in 2015, England following suit in 2020, and Welsh Regulations coming into force from 1st December 2022 for all private and social rented properties to do the same.

Despite the nuances between each of the country’s legislation, the 5-year maximum period between inspection and tests and the requirement to use a qualified and competent person to conduct an electrical inspection and test remain unchanged. Using an electrical contractor who is registered with a UKAS accredited, Government authorised electrical Competent Person Scheme (CPS) is one approach to demonstrating compliance with the Regulations. Although this is not a legal requirement, it is recommended throughout Government Guidance.

The owner of a dwelling is ultimately responsible for complying with regulations and is liable in the event of an accident. Using the English private rented sector as an example, it equates to 19 per cent of the housing stock, or 4.4 million homes, highlighting the scale of awareness required. Whilst reports that recent regulations have led to a ‘race to the bottom’ on pricing and quality of electrical inspection and testing in some areas, support from the electrical industry for landlords, tenants, and homeowners to help understand the legalities of electrical safety requirements is widespread. Additionally, through the existence of consumer-friendly websites such as Registered Competent Person Electrical, the industry has simplified the task of finding and using a registered, competent electrical inspector and tester.

Encouraging landlords to use electrical inspectors and testers registered with an UKAS accredited Government authorised electrical CPS is crucial to maintaining standards in the sector. Registration with an electrical CPS holds electrical contractors to account through regular on-site technical assessments, minimum qualification, competence and insurance requirements and confirms the acceptance of scheme rules. This allows CPSs to act against those registered organisations that are not maintaining the high standards set. Reviewing statistics from NAPIT, an electrical CPS with over 16,500 registered businesses, in the past year, over 450 sanctions have been taken to support compliance, ranging from additional inspection, formal improvement actions, suspensions and included 92 certification withdrawals.

Whilst the sanctions taken illustrate the ability and commitment of electrical CPSs to act, they highlight that in 97 per cent of cases registration is maintained without action. In addition, the fact that 99.8 per cent of installations are completed without complaint shows that the vast majority of registered organisations are compliant and are acting in accordance with the rules and requirements of the scheme. This level of compliance is exemplary and should provide customers with the confidence to use registered electrical contractors.

NAPIT is committed to sharing knowledge by providing landlords, local governments, and electrical contractors with free guidance documents and webinars. These have been watched, downloaded and interacted with over 130,000 times across the past 24 months. Alongside awareness campaigning, NAPIT provides technical assistance to its registered organisations, which include numerous local authorities and has published dedicated publications to raise the profile of electrical inspection and testing best practice, whilst actively contributing to further enhancing electrical safety standards through participation at various technical, industry and Government committee meetings.

Furthermore, the formation of the NAPIT Electrical Inspector Scheme (EIS), comprising of 9500 companies, provides customers with additional confidence that the organisation they use to undertake electrical inspecting and testing meets the requirements set out in the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification. The Electrotechnical Assessment Specification is the official document which outlines the minimum requirements needed by an enterprise in order to be recognised by a certification body as competent to undertake electrotechnical work.

NAPIT’s EIS has been growing at a rate of 29 per cent per year, demonstrating the increasing capacity for carrying out electrical inspection and testing. Members of NAPIT’s EIS can be found using NAPIT’s online search tool, which also provides information about the competence of registered operatives (individuals) within organisations along with photographs to provide additional verification for customers.

With more regulation expected over the next few years to improve electrical safety standards in dwellings across the UK, through the Private Tenancies Bill in Northern Ireland, the consultation on enhancing electrical safety standards within the social rented sector in England and the call for evidence for safety standards in holiday and short-term lets in England, the demand for appropriately qualified and competent electrical inspectors and testers is set to rise. In addition, with increasing numbers of electric vehicle chargepoints, solar PV and heat pumps all of which require dwellings to have their electrical installations inspected and tested prior to installation to ensure the suitability of supply and safety of the installation will additionally impact demand.

To support the necessary growth in the electrical inspection and testing sector, and maintain confidence, the electrical industry must continue to work collaboratively to support the awareness and promotion of using appropriately registered, competent and qualified electrical contractors. This will in turn allow for the effective delivery of electrical inspection and testing needed to realise the Government’s regulatory ambitions and further enhance electrical safety standards across dwellings within the UK.

View NAPIT’s online search tool here: NAPIT – Member Search

To view NAPIT publications, click here: NAPIT Direct

To view NAPIT’s Guidance on The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022, click here: LINK