If not properly installed and maintained, a fixed electrical installation, including the distribution board (where mains electricity comes into the building) and associated wiring for power and lighting can become a fire and/or health and safety hazard.

If you’re an employer, or a landlord or property owner, or you have control over a premises or part of one, you’re required by law to make sure that the property, including the electrical installation, is safe for people- whether employees, tenants, contractors, visitors or the general public.

Key actions to maintain safe electrical installations

  • Understand what is required for compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations then make sure your risk assessments, employee training, and ‘safe systems of work’ documents and processes all include risks from electrical installations.
  • Get a competent person (i.e. someone with relevant qualifications, knowledge and experience for the type of installation) to carry out any maintenance or repair work, inspections or tests on the electrical installations.
  • Make sure electrical installations are inspected and tested to comply with BS 7671 ‘Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations’.
  • Confirm timeframes with your competent person after each inspection and test when the next one should be. This will normally vary between 12 months and 5 years.
  • If defects are found or remedial work needed, make sure these have been prioritised (by the competent person undertaking the inspection / test), the repairs are  done as soon as possible (in priority order), and with the urgency recommended.
    • Keep a record of the work, as well as any inspection or test reports, and make sure a completion certificate is issued for any new work.
  • A recorded system based on a risk assessment should be considered for maintaining fixed, portable and transportable electrical equipment, including extension cables, leads and plugs.
  • With guidance from your competent person, make sure that the electrical installation, equipment, fittings and appliances are suitable for the “zone”, as categorised under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR). Don’t let work take place on the electrical installation within such “zoned” areas, or on high voltage equipment, unless those involved are fully trained, experienced and competent to do so.
  • Don’t store in electrical equipment cupboards, or on top of or within two metres of electrical distribution boards. Provide suitable guard rails or floor markings to stop this and put down insulating rubber mats in front of electrical distribution equipment.
  • If you have high intensity lighting (HID), consider taking the following actions:
    • Check HID lamps are installed following the manufacturer’s instructions, in clear, dry areas, like aisles, and a good distance from combustible goods and materials.
    • Make sure they’re in protective housings that will safely contain any parts of the bulb, if it were to shatter during use; If possible, use housings made of fire-resistant materials.
  • Use specialist infrared cameras to look at selected parts of electrical systems under load to identify hot spots and plan for preventative maintenance and repairs to machinery, plant and equipment.
    • Do thermal imaging surveys in addition to a conventional electrical installation inspection and testing programme, based on BS 7671.
    • Allianz Engineering provides electrical testing and inspection services, including thermal imaging surveys, at special rates for Allianz Commercial policyholders – visit our suppliers section for more information.
  • Review our guidance regarding electrical and electronic equipment to further develop your knowledge.

Templates for maintaining electrical installations

Fire risk assessment

Assessment form

Fire risk checklist

Guards and safety devices

Inspection form

Additional resources

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about preventing and controlling fires and related issues.