Timing is not everything when carrying out an EICR | NICEIC

Timing is not everything when carrying out an EICR | NICEIC

John O’Neill, Director of Technical Excellence at NICEIC, looks at why timing is not everything when electrical professionals are carrying out an EICR.

Propelled into the spotlight in recent years, EICRs have become a significant topic of conversation as electrical safety legislation in the PRS has been rolled out at a varying pace across the UK, starting in Scotland (2015), followed by England (2020) and, more recently, Wales (2022). At the core of the new legal requirements, the EICR is the chosen control mechanism. Used to confirm the suitability of the installation for continued use, noting where that is not the case, the risk presented to the installation user; the EICR also identifies where remedial works may be needed to comply with legislation.

It’s essential then that those completing EICRs do so correctly and thoroughly, a task which should only ever be undertaken by a competent person that is skilled in such work.

New pressures and challenges

While the recent legislation introductions are both welcomed and needed, new requirements always bring new pressures. We believe the vast amount of landlords and contractors are doing the right thing, complying with the law responsibly and ethically. However, there will be a small minority who will be looking for ways to cut corners when it comes to compliance. To this group, we would simply say: ‘don’t’! The risks are grave, and as has been seen in recent cases, you’ll be prosecuted if you’re found to be breaking the rules.

There are a couple of common questions in relation to EICRs in the PRS, which I’ll answer in two parts:

1. How long should a typical EICR take?

The answer here falls in the realms of the old saying: ‘how long is a piece of string?’ We cannot tell you how long a ‘typical’ EICR should take as, quite frankly, there is no such thing. Every installation is potentially unique and should be viewed as such.

What we can say with absolute certainty is the extent of the inspection should be decided as part of a process that initially sees the inspector familiarise themselves with the installation. Using that knowledge, the inspector can then estimate the time needed, including any specific requirements the person ordering the work may have. In this way, all parties should agree on the extent and scope of the inspection before work begins. With so much riding on EICRs, technical precision is an absolute must, as is employing the right contractors and allowing them the time they need to complete the job correctly.

When completed correctly and thoroughly, EICRs should identify safety issues, where present, that could result in disastrous outcomes if left unchecked. On the other hand, if the work is rushed or misreported, then the report potentially isn’t worth the paper it is written on. In this scenario, there could be multiple risks at play. First and foremost, the risk of harm, injury or even loss of life. Furthermore, the associated risks include loss or damage to buildings, damage to reputations, loss of livelihood and the threat of prosecution. With the stakes so high, landlords must think carefully about the contractors they employ to undertake EICRs. Considerations must also be given to the pressures surrounding timing expectations for completing projects. Landlords should ask: ‘is it wise to impose unreasonable deadlines, or should I allow my chosen contractor to use their expertise to the best of their ability to protect my tenants and my investment?’

Contractors also need to be mindful. Do you take the job knowing you will not be able to complete it correctly in the timeframe specified by the client? Is it worth risking your reputation, putting others at risk, and the possibility of prosecution should something go wrong?

2. Who can undertake EICRs?

The PRS rules state the EICRs must be completed by a competent person. To help source a suitable contractor in England, the government has signposted the Competent Persons Register of contractors – a list that many reading this publication will appear on.

The rules do also state that a landlord can use a contractor NOT shown on this list. However, it is then the sole responsibility of that landlord to check and verify competence by following online government guidance.

Home office statistics show that in In England, 53% of all accidental dwelling fires are caused by an electrical source of ignition, with many resulting from domestic installation faults. Accidents do happen, but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate risk. Competent, qualified electricians should always feel confident of reminding landlords of this fact when discussing EICRs.

Find out more about NICEIC here

Related posts